K&B: More Rapida offset presses being equipped with fully automatic plate logistics

Richard Stuart-Turner
Friday, January 20, 2023

Koenig & Bauer reported an uptake in commercial printers equipping their Rapida sheetfed offset presses with fully automatic plate logistics systems.

Koenig & Bauer: makeready times are "noticeably shorter" with fully automatic plate logistics
Koenig & Bauer: makeready times are "noticeably shorter" with fully automatic plate logistics

The manufacturer said several of its systems are already in use in daily practice and that further installations are expected to follow, particularly with web-to-print providers.

To date, both medium-format Rapida 106 X presses and large-format models of the Rapida 145 series have been integrated into fully automatic plate logistics systems.

“Depending on the particular system and location, they convey up to 1,280 printing plates to the changers on the printing units of an eight-colour press per shift,” the company stated.

“This number alone illustrates the strengths and potential of plate logistics on modern sheetfed offset presses.”

With the short and medium runs commonly seen in commercial printing, Koenig & Bauer said fully automatic plate logistics help operators to harness the full potential of their highly automated presses.

“Makeready times are noticeably shorter and the printshop personnel can concentrate on the decisive aspects of the production process and on print quality,” the company said.

“An eight-colour perfector press exhibits the accustomed efficiency with fast makeready and 4-over-4 production at maximum speed even when presented with a succession of short-run jobs requiring just 300 sheets each.

“All plates are in the corresponding printing units right when they need to be. The transfer from the plate logistics module to the simultaneous plate changing system DriveTronic SPC is so precise that manual interventions in operations become a thing of the past.”

Koenig & Bauer said that due to the modular design of its logistics systems, it can offer “practically every conceivable solution” for fully automatic plate transport to the plate changers on the press, including subsequently fully automatic plate changing.

Standard modules that can be selected to suit the existing installations and the desired level of automation include: separation of individual plates and transfer to the transport system; plate identification (data matrix); transport to the printing unit; plate changing; transport to the disposal station; and disposal of the used plates.

Additionally, there are various components that cater for special circumstances, for example for the integration of several presses into a single logistics system.

The individual modules are either installed above the press or outside the immediate press area. This means that the Rapida remains fully accessible during plate changes.

The transport systems (chain conveyors) can be tailored to the requirements of the customer. As the plates take different routes during transport to and from the printing units, Koenig & Bauer said there is no risk of interference or assignment errors.

To enable uninterrupted production at maximum speed and with short runs, the system holds the plates for the next job at the printing units. The job sequence is otherwise determined by the order in which the plates are placed on the plate trolley.

“Any necessary amendments can be realised on the trolley before the individual plates are separated and passed on to the transport system,” the company said.

“Before transfer to the chain conveyors, the plates are identified by scanning a data matrix code added to the plate image at the time of exposure. The job list communicated to the console using LogoTronic can be adapted at any time to reflect the actual order of the plates.”

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