A Fine-Tuned Label Printing Advantage
“Having a single supplier for the plates and the processor helps fine-tune the system and is the best way to ensure plate quality,” says Bekki Harmon of Best Label in Union City, California. An expert in color management across pre-press and production, Harmon was a leader in evaluating the Flint nyloflex® Xpress Thermal Plate Processing System Best Label acquired as the company added new technology and capabilities. The new device from Flint Group is designed to leverage the interaction of the processor, plates, and developer in a holistic system, with all the elements developed and provided by Flint.
Best Label operates three facilities. Harmon’s shop in Union City, another in Cerritos, California and one in Guadalajara, Mexico. Customers span health and beauty, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and (in Guadalajara) tequila. The Union City facility also tests and evaluates new technologies to determine how various devices might fit the other operations.
Thermal Processing Made Easy: Just Hit Start
Beginning in September 2016, Best Label was a beta test site for the new system that was also introduced at Labelexpo in Chicago. Harmon, with her strong background in creative pre-press solutions, took a lead role in evaluating the system and in training Best Label’s operators in using the new device. She and her colleagues found that the Xpress came with a short learning curve, enabling the machine to be productive not long after installation.
She especially liked the user interface, which she likens to an iPad. “The design of the Xpress interface is well thought out, very clear and straightforward. We didn’t have to scroll through multiple menus to find the functions we needed. Just touch the screen for what you want to do and hit ‘Start’.”
By comparison, Harmon notes that older plate processing systems were harder to learn and use, requiring greater familiarity with the interface and incrementally slowing production.
Part of Best Label’s evaluation of the Xpress processor showed off its speed. Harmon says it processes plates in about 11 minutes, compared to about 15 minutes for the older processor. “Four minutes doesn’t seem like much, but over the course of a day, it means you can process more plates. The Xpress also uses less power, so it is more productive while using less energy. It’s been a very positive change for us.”
The AV Advantage
Harmon notes that Flint Group and Anderson & Vreeland provided excellent support while Best Label was implementing the new machine and in the months that followed. For example, to ensure critical colors remained unchanged when plates were made on the new thermal plate processor Harmon had to shift many color profiles from the older system to the new one. While she could do that herself, assistance from Anderson & Vreeland helped ensure color management profiles were moved over and adapted to the new machine while work in the process continued on the older processor. Customers were unaware of the change to the Xpress system.
“We’re a little different than some other converters because we have a strong technical staff, but we still looked to both Flint and AV for support,” says Harmon. “They were always available, both by phone and coming on-site to help ensure a smooth transition. For a smaller shop with less internal technical support working with Anderson & Vreeland would be an even greater asset.”
“The Flint and A&V partnership works really well. It’s really the people more than the equipment. And even for us, it’s like having a group of expert employees we can call on whenever we need them.”