Label it efficient with POWERLINK
To cut production cost per unit for commodity labels without making compromises in print quality or machine uptime – this was the goal Gallus set for themselves when developing the new ECS 340 label printing press. With the help of B&R technology, they achieved this goal with flying colors. Combining the latest controller and drive technology with a granite machine core provides a stable foundation for the machine's impressive performance data and low operating costs.
Lithography is the oldest form of planographic printing, and in the 19th century this stone-based method allowed printed materials to be mass produced for the first time. The Swiss printing press manufacturer Gallus is once again utilizing stones for the production of color prints. This time, however, rather than serving as a print substrate, the stone forms the base of the Gallus ECS 340 inline label printing machine, thereby ensuring extraordinarily smooth operation. The Gallus ECS 340 was specifically developed for the production of self-adhesive commodity labels – stickers created using multi-color flexographic printing that achieve outstanding results without complex finishing methods such as foil stamping, etc. Typical examples include labels on the backs of shampoo bottles or on the fronts of products made for the foodstuffs, household goods and pharmaceuticals industries.
"These segments are generally characterized by high cost pressures, and manufacturers are forced to operate within tight margins," explains Stefan Heiniger, COO of the Labels division of the Gallus Group. "In spite of these constraints – or perhaps precisely because of them – they are not willing or able to go without the high level of print quality or system availability offered by the Gallus machines. This is the only way for them to gain a competitive edge." He continues, "We followed the motto 'Reduce to the max' when developing the Gallus ECS 340 so that we could provide a solution for these particularly cost-sensitive applications."
Radically reduced operating costs
The balancing act between high printing quality and low operating costs was mastered through the use of state-of-the-art solutions, including ACOPOS servo technology from B&R.
"Gallus was the first manufacturer of label printers to introduce a machine that makes exclusive use of individually operated axes," highlights the Gallus division manager. "The tough demands placed on label printing machines can only be met with servo technology. These demands include short setup times, quick machine startup after retooling and minimum waste – all with consistently high print quality. B&R's servo technology has delivered on all of these points."
Used together with the high-performance POWERLINK bus, single-axis technology based on servo inverters from the B&R ACOPOS series allows up to twelve inking units on the Gallus ECS to be set up quickly and adjusted dynamically – taking process deviations and speeds of up to 160 meters per minute in stride. This makes it possible to change label types and materials quickly, produce press proofs in record time and apply a wide range of colors with high precision, thus avoiding misprints and waste. "What this means for label printing companies is a strong competitive edge and environmentally friendly operation," explains Heiniger.
Full control of process costs
Due to the vital role that drives play in the overall solution, Gallus performed an extensive review of potential suppliers in 2006 before starting development of the Gallus ECS. "The design specification called for a supplier that could offer a central control platform as well as the corresponding drives," recalls the Gallus division business manager. "Maintaining high quality standards, which we based on failure rates, was also a key requirement."
The high level of quality plays a major role in the low operating costs of the Gallus ECS 340. Decision makers at Gallus were also happy to hear that B&R ACOPOS dual-axis modules are available as series products and that the drives can easily be installed and switched out during operation – a considerable advantage in a system with up to 50 axes. The drives are configured automatically when registered on the controller, and there is no need to connect an extra service computer or install software manually. The system does not even have to be rebooted after a drive is replaced. "These features reduce the process costs for the machine manufacturer as well as the machine owner," explains Heiniger.
Minimal downtime after the machine is stopped
The power regeneration capabilities of the ACOPOS drives bring the machine owner additional savings with regard to their operating costs. The width of the machine – 11 meters with eight inking units (up to twelve units are possible) – is no problem for the B&R solution because the DC bus can be extended using expansion modules. However, the ability to regenerate braking power is not the main highlight of the Gallus ECS. Much more important is the ability – in the event of a web break, power failure or emergency – to use the kinetic energy to bring the machine to a safe and defined state without requiring a separate UPS, thereby ensuring that the machine can be restarted quickly. Here the system operator benefits from the integrated safety technology provided by B&R, which enables a fast and effective logical link with the standard controller. Users also benefit from the fact that B&R ACOPOS drives use filters and choke modules to avoid drawing reactive current, which prevents energy suppliers from demanding additional power compensation units or charging extra electrical costs.
The Gallus ECS 340 features minimum waste and very short setup times with low operating costs, thereby allowing extremely cost-efficient production of high-quality commodity labels. In light of the many advantages offered by the new label printing machine, it is little wonder that Gallus has already delivered more than 70 machines equipped with high-performance B&R technology.
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