With so much focus on the equipment, software can sometimes get a smaller share of the limelight than its more tangible hardware counterparts. It’s important to remember that behind every great piece of equipment is great software. This article looks at the softer side of packaging production.
Workflow and Productivity
When it comes to productivity within package printing and converting, all the hardware bells and whistles in the world won’t save you from bottlenecks if your workflow is not optimized. Accurate, up-to-the-minute data from the factory floor offers comprehensive visibility, allowing printers and converters to assess issues in real time.
“You cannot manage what you can’t see,” Aleks Zlatic, EFI’s GM for packaging software, says. “If you don’t see what is actually happening in your factory, you really cannot fix it, and if you don’t have software to do that, it’s a lot harder to deploy a standard. The software is critical in getting this continuous improvement cycle going, and it starts with seeing what’s really happening on your factory floor.”
Another key productivity challenge in the printing and converting industry is underutilization of equipment, Zlatic says.
“A lot of the studies carried out by EFI show that some of the best printing presses are only 40% utilized, meaning that 60% of the time they’re not really creating value,” he says. “You would need to buy two presses to get 80% capacity in that scenario. Once you actually have good visibility on what’s happening on the shop floor, you can get to about 80% capacity utilization — a huge jump. If you’re not focused on seeing what’s happening on your factory floor, you’re only really going to be running at 50%.”
The Packaging Suite from EFI is a modular group of products offering key ERP functions and scalable Certified Workflows that helps label, folding carton, and flexible packaging businesses maximize the physical equipment on the shop floor. Users can boost productivity with data-driven insights into the areas where the most value can be added. Packaging Suite platforms such as the EFI PrintFlow scheduling engine, can ease bottlenecks by automatically adjusting schedules as conditions change. EFI Auto-Count 4D offers users real-time production visibility by automatically collecting accurate, up-to-the minute production data including counts, press status, speed, and other critical information direct from the equipment on the shop floor. The subject of workflow automation is a focus for EFI, and in 2020, the eFlow Automator module was added to the suite. The eFlow Automator can watch for events that users define as important and relevant, and the software can trigger activities as a result, automating routine and repetitive tasks even for actions outside of the EFI ecosystem.
Karis Copp is a U.K.-based journalist and communications specialist. With a background as a writer and editor in the print industry, she writes about print and technology news and trends, reports on industry events, and works with businesses to help them tell their stories and connect with their customers. Follow her on Twitter @KarisCoppMedia.