Star Product: AVT PrintVision/Helios II inspection system

By Jenny Roper, Thursday 29 September 2011

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A label inspection system designed to work best on press

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What does it do? The AVT PrintVision/Helios II inspection system aims to provide quality assurance in label and narrow web printing. According to AVT, the system detects all printing defects such as colour misregister, colour variations, hazing, misprints, defect in the text, spots, splashes, die-cut problems, barcode problems and missing labels.

What machines is it compatible with? AVT says the device can be used with all presses and finishing systems, but is most effective when installed on a press. The optional workflow module launched in conjunction with the Helios II system ensures that, not only is the operator immediately notified via the system’s interface when a defect occurs, but that the unwinder automatically stops the roll at exactly the right point to allow an operator to remove the faulty labels. "Six years ago most inspection systems in the label market were installed on rewinders," says AVT’s marketing manager Guy Yogev. "But that’s really much too late. If you find out about the defect at the printing stage, you can dramatically cut waste, reduce costs and boost production."

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at? AVT launched the first Helios II eight years ago and aims to update it each year. This year’s version was launched in July in response to demand from the US pharmaceutical market for a system that could verify any type of barcode or set of human readable variable numbers, checking for decoding, readability, print quality, missing codes, duplications or sequence problems.

How does it work? After a short set-up process, the system’s camera takes a master image of the printed product, which the operator must approve as of acceptable quality. They can then adjust the quality threshold for the job in question, the preferences for which can be saved as profiles. The system then uses algorithms to detect defects, with particular attention to label-specific faults, such as character defect detection, die-cut miss-register, and matrix removal problems. The Helios II also performs a check against an original PDF file to ensure that the correct job is being processed. "I’ve had a lot of customers saying ‘we printed a marvelous job, thousands of good quality labels, but it was the wrong job to begin with,’" says Yogev. "It could be the wrong revision, the wrong plates, the wrong language, and is a huge waste of time and money for them."

What is its USP? The Helios II is, according to AVT, the most suitable inspection system for checking labels at the printing stage. Upgrades such as the workflow module, barcode verification and colour measurement module – which ensures colour consistency – are all designed to make fault detection at an early stage as reliable as possible. AVT says the key selling point is the simple interface and high level of automation, which make it easy to use. "Printers can’t afford to spend a long time doing the set-up so an inspection system needs to be very simple," says Yogev. "But because we’re developing more and more modules, the system is in danger of becoming more complex. So we invest 50% of our development budget into keeping the system as simple as possible. Another feature that we feel has always differentiated Helios systems is the ability to identify important defects while ignoring those that aren’t, such as very small spots or very slight colour changes."

What training and support is available? Basic training takes a couple of hours and is carried out at the factory in question, says Yogev. Engineers also return to the customer a couple of months after the installation to answer more advanced questions. AVT has engineers around the world for call-outs and offers internet-based support. Both are guaranteed for at least 12 months.

Ho much does it cost? Systems start at around €50,000 (£43,000) but can be as much as €100,000 depending on the configurations required, such as camera chosen and whether it is colour or black and white. Retrofittable upgrades start at €5,000 and go up to €30,000.

What is the sales target? AVT has installed more than 800 Helios inspection systems worldwide and has already upgraded around 20 Helios II systems since it was launched in July. It expects the new system will boost sales.

SPECIFICATIONS
Max label height Unlimited
Substrates Paper and plastic label stock, flexible, transparent & opaque films, paper, cartons, foil & reflective materials (optional)
Print process Flexo, gravure, letterpress, web offset, digital and combinationapplication labels, booklet labels, leaflets, flexible packaging, shrink sleeves, folding cartons, laminated tubes and more
Price €50,000-€100,000 (£43,000-£86,000)
Contact AVT 0121 353 1395 www.avt-inc.com

USER'S VERDICT
"The Helios II has increased output for our business and we now feel sure that each product that we send out is being 100% inspected. It has given us a lot more confidence in the labels we supply. The system is absolutely fantastic" (5/5)
Andy Brown, print manager, Chesapeake

ALTERNATIVES
BST International Shark 4000/1000 LEX
The Shark 4000 LEX and Shark 1000 LEX are designed to detect a range of faults such as hairs, color variation, haze, scumming, web crease, wrinkles, missing print and reverse type fill-in. Like the Helios II, they feature job memory, referencing via a PDF file, barcode checks and control of the rewinder.
Max label height 970mm
Substrate suitable for inspection of transparent, opaque and reflective substrates
Print process narrow web machine/rewinder
Price €25,000 for the basic grayscale system
Contact +49 5206 9990 www.bst-international.com

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