“We print and think outside the box,” says Glenn Correa, prepress manager at Alpha Poly in Brampton, Ontario. “We don’t turn to industry standards to dictate how we run, but consider all the options and make decisions that are best fits for our business and add value for our customers.”
That big-picture approach was one that led to the company’s acquisition of an Ovit plate washer from Anderson & Vreeland.
“The objective is to be more productive and also keep costs down,” notes Correa.
For example, after adding a new central impression cylinder press Alpha Poly found plate demounting was taking longer than expected, adding to production time. To accelerate the demounting process, they brought in a plate demounter from Anderson & Vreeland that helped ensure skilled employees could focus on running presses instead of demounting plates. The demounter added productivity but Alpha poly soon encountered another bottleneck.
“We needed to free up the helpers on the press who were spending too much time washing plates,” recounts Correa. “We wash plates as soon as we finish using them but sometimes had to slow down the press because we couldn’t change and wash plates and rolls quickly enough. We knew that having an automated washing system would streamline that process and keep our skilled workers setting up and running the press. That was the first part of calculating the ROI on the washer.”
Correa and his colleagues began by looking at the time and labor associated with plate washing and how those factors impacted productivity. For example, a press helper would typically need about 15 minutes to manually clean a plate as well as an automated plate washer would. The Ovit promised—and delivered—a clear advantage. “In the first two months we had the washer, we ran 1900 cycles (a complete washing of a plate), which includes cycles when two plates were cleaned at the same time,” says Correa.
The Ovit plate washer was fast and easy to operate, but Correa and his team also looked at the chemicals used, how often they would need replacing, and also sought out feedback from other Ovit users to get a sense of how well the machine worked in a production environment. Sean Sawa, Director of Sales for Anderson & Vreeland Canada, connected Alpha Poly with other Ovit users to provide insights on how the Ovit plate washer worked on a day-to-day basis in a busy shop.
But Alpha Poly’s analysis still wasn’t complete. The company also factored in replacement costs for plates that had been damaged or had shorter than planned lives due to the manual washing process. These costs, when combined with chemicals and labor were recast as a monthly cost, which showed the ROI on the Ovit plate washer to be less than a year.
Then, once the Ovit plate washer was on location at Alpha Poly, Martin Schofield, the local AV Canada technical product support expert, worked closely with Correa and the Alpha Poly team to ensure the new machine was correctly integrated into the company’s workflow and met its production needs. For Alpha Poly, having a local tech was an important benefit in acquiring its Ovit plate washer from AV Canada.
With many plates cleaned and new efficiencies gained, Correa says Alpha Poly employees are pleased with the operation of the Ovit washer and notes how the absence of abrasive solvents is extending plate life. “One of the hardest questions customers ask is ‘how long does a plate last?’ There’s no one answer, but the chemicals used in the Ovit make a difference and extend plate life.”
Correa notes that such considerations are not lost on customers. Customers touring the Alpha Poly plant hear about the choices of machines and appreciate that the company makes a genuine effort to extend the lives of costly plates. “A primary objective of any company is customer delight,” says Correa. “You want to make sure they feel like they are being taken care of, and seeing how we care for their plates helps set us apart from other companies.”Learn More About the Ovit Plate Washer