Zooming Toward Quality
Sophistication across all levels of web inspection technology make it a manageable investment for package printers.
By Susan Friedman
Why buy a Mercedes when you can reliably, stylishly get from Point A to Point B in a Honda? The infusion of sophistication across all levels of web inspection technology makes this analogy ring true for many package printers' purchasing decisions.
"The largest base for video web inspection technology will continue to be simple, inexpensive video systems for general web viewing, while new image-based technology is being developed to bring value-added features to more sophisticated web printing processes," observes Paul Burrows, product application engineer at CC1, Manchester, NH.
Package printers serving the pharmaceutical, security and other industries with stringent packaging compliances and liabilities are common investors in the "Mercedes" of web inspection equipment—those systems employing automated defect detection and 100 percent inspection. Other printers may never need this level of scrutiny. Eddie Engledow, product manager, guiding and inspection systems at Fife, Oklahoma City, says for line work applications, a features-intensive inspection system may just confuse the issue.
On the other hand, a purchase that is too far down the low-end side of the technology spectrum will also muddle inspection objectives. "With video systems, quality counts," states Mike Griese, sales manager, Eltromat Electronics, Chesapeake, VA. "Low-cost, standard web viewing systems will not be able to produce a clear image of the web. Printers will not use the system. Defects will pass undetected."
John Thome, global marketing manager, BST Pro Mark, Elmhurst, IL, estimates that about 10 percent of the market owns a semi-automatic or automatic inspection system, with automation most in demand for registration, barcoding and color monitoring. He believes everyone will go the way of automation in five years, "even narrow-web label applications."
It doesn't take an unlimited inspection budget to implement upgraded defect detection capabilities. "All video web inspection systems have benefited from advances in computer processing and display monitor technologies," says Burrows. "Improved, high-resolution, flicker-free display monitors are now standard on all but the most inexpensive systems."