Last updateFri, 28 Feb 2020 1am

BARTHEL GROUP: With quality assurance systems of the BST Group on the way to zero-defect production I

In 2013, the BARTHEL GROUP was the first label printing company in the world to commission a TubeScan digital strobe from Nyquist Systems for web inspection at its headquarters in Essen, Germany. Nyquist Systems, manufacturer of inspection systems for narrow-web printing processes, introduced this system as an alternative to conventional stroboscope lamps. Since then, the BARTHEL GROUP, which specialises in the production of self-adhesive labels of various types for a number of industries, has followed every step of the development of TubeScan systems. In the meantime, several of their printing and packaging machines are equipped with these systems for 100% inspection. Since the beginning of 2019 Nyquist Systems is part of the BST Group. The group is responsible for the worldwide sales and service of the TubeScan portfolio.

One to twelve-colour labels, premium labels, multi-layer labels, wine labels, wrap-around labels, (re-)sealing labels and blank labels - the BARTHEL GROUP with its six companies is extremely broadly based and at home in many markets. The main focus is on the food, wine & spirits, home care, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and chemicals & automotive sectors.
Barthel GmbH has been using 100% inspection systems in finishing since 2003. The first solution was a conventional camera system. In the following years, the label printing company successively equipped its constantly modern machinery with line scan cameras for 100% inspection. With the new TubeScan digital strobe with an attractive price-performance ratio, which was introduced by Nyquist Systems, an alternative to these cameras became apparent in 2013.
"We wanted to test the quality, handling and reliability in day-to-day operation," says Mischa Barthel, managing partner of the BARTHEL GROUP, explaining why his company installed the world's first digital strobe. "The first TubeScan was more of a solution for mislabel inspection. But we recognized its potential back then. It was only a matter of time before his area scan camera would achieve a higher resolution and thus better image quality. In addition, Nyquist Systems Managing Director Dr. Stephan Krebs gave us the certainty at that time that TubeScan would be continuously developed further towards 100% inspection".
Quality and functionality continuously developed
In the years that followed, the rapidly growing BARTHEL GROUP successively had more TubeScan systems installed in its printing presses. These were increasingly higher-quality devices that were able to detect print-relevant defects. "The new TubeScan systems helped our employees to meet the growing quality requirements of the market," says Friedhelm Schmitz, head of the quality assurance department.
Over the years, the focus shifted from detecting the most important defects in the label rolls already produced to the preventive avoidance of printing errors that would lead to waste. This was made possible above all by the constantly increasing resolution of the systems' matrix cameras. With their high resolution of 4k, the latest area scan cameras have largely caught up with line scan cameras in terms of quality of 100% image reproduction. Today, comparatively inexpensive 9-megapixel area scan cameras "Made in Germany" are available for the entire TubeScan portfolio. In label printing with web widths from 330 mm to 430 mm, they achieve resolutions of 83 µm or 100 µm and in special applications even resolutions of 55 µm. But Nyquist Systems has also continuously expanded the functionality of the software, the possibilities of real-time visualization as well as the inspection and measurement process including illumination options.
Barthel: "By visualizing the printing errors in our converting department, we were able to avoid image losses that would inevitably have resulted in deliveries of defective labels. With the 100% control in print we minimize our waste. Our printers see immediately when errors occur and can take immediate countermeasures. We produce the desired quality in a more targeted manner and, thanks to the counters integrated into the TubeScan systems, we produce exactly the required number of labels". Both have increased the productivity and profitability of label production.
Double protection
Almost half of the 35 printing presses of the BARTHEL GROUP are now equipped with TubeScan systems. In addition, these systems are used in several machines for final inspection in the finishing department. In many areas of the company's production process, quality is therefore now checked in two steps. Here, the double safeguard guarantees uncompromising zero-defect production. Costly complaints are excluded.
Barthel is currently thinking about equipping all presses with 100% inspection - the next step will be to equip the nine digital presses which mainly produce shorter runs and individualized labels. Schmitz: "It is important to take the press operators along and show them the advantages of the innovative quality assurance. For example, that with the TubeScan systems they can print the required quality in a more relaxed manner". The printers should be able to control themselves and retrieve quality documentation from the systems. Time and again there are aha effects when press operators use them to uncover errors that they would not have seen without the systems.
Are the registers right? Are the texts and barcodes printed correctly? Are there stains on the labels? Are the distances between the labels correct and are they correctly centered? The TubeScan systems offer the BARTHEL GROUP a wide range of possibilities in 100% inspection. "The systems can be flexibly adjusted to the specific order. This means that within the specified parameters, they reliably detect all errors in printing and finishing that customers would not accept", explains Schmitz. At the same time, the BARTHEL GROUP can make optimum use of the performance of its machines despite the 100% inspection.
In the near future, the group of companies will be able to further simplify the work of its printers with the new PDF comparison directly in the presses and further reduce set-up times. With this new function, machine operators can ensure that their machines produce perfect quality right from the start, even before printing begins. "The manual comparison of the printed labels with the PDF files from prepress is still a bottleneck in our mostly three-shift production. PDF matching directly in the presses saves our printers from having to scan proofs and compare them with the prepress specifications. They are quicker to print," Schmitz explains the benefits. In addition, the BARTHEL GROUP will be putting a digital text control system into operation for the first time in one machine in 2019 and will possibly integrate it into other machines later. Another option is the connection of TubeScan systems in printing and finishing machines. If information from printing flows directly into the finishing process, waste can be further minimized and the quality produced can be clearly documented.
In addition to the digital stroboscopes, the BARTHEL GROUP uses further systems from BST eltromat. Barthel: "I am pleased with the level of quality assurance we have achieved today. With the future innovations we will certainly be able to improve our results even further".



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