GSE unveils a new management software for eliminating ink-related waste and assuring colour quality within the label and package printing workflow. With numerous new functionalities, more connectivity and extensive reporting functions, Ink manager adds value in numerous ways.
Maarten Hummelen, marketing director at GSE, comments: “The benefits of ink logistics – improving ink yields and meeting stricter colour targets through fast, precise ink dispensing – are commonly appreciated by packaging and label printers. But increasingly, our customers demand more functionality, like ingredient traceability for food and pharmaceutical safety standards, and advanced management reporting to plan strategically. GSE Ink manager is the response to that.”
A modular software with a modern, intuitive Windows design and including drag, drop, search, sort and export features, GSE Ink manager offers the functionality equivalent to a modern ERP system. Optionally, it comes with Wifi connection to the dispenser, as well as an app allowing remote data entry and access to real-time information. Also, it is compatible with mobile phones, allowing remote control of process steps, without needing to be at the dispenser.
Ink manager supports all the main steps in the package printing workflow, providing the potential for process improvement in 10 areas:
Making your own inks – The software and dispensing system enable instant availability of exact colours in precise quantities for the job, made from base components. This reduces ink costs by up to 30 per cent: there is no need to purchase expensive ready-mixed colours, or excess amounts in case of urgent orders. Ordering base components less frequently saves transport, warehousing and administration costs.
Reusing return inks – Reusing inks remaining in the chamber after the production run can be more complex because of application-specific inks and varnishes today, so an organised registration system is essential.
With barcode scanning capability and advanced search functionality, Ink manager enables ink reuse in various ways. Firstly, return inks with approximately the same colour, or similar base components, can be combined into a ‘cluster.’ The recipe is determined by calculating used buckets or with a colour formulation system. The cluster becomes a single base colour connected to the ink dispenser, supplying new jobs. Ink manager supports clustering with lists of return inks; the expiry date of the cluster determined by earliest date of all the components.
Also, inks and varnishes can be classified into different quality series. Premium varnishes can be substituted for jobs with less demanding specifications, while using standard varnishes is prohibited where higher quality is expected. Furthermore, return inks can be reserved for specific jobs, e.g. when unique colours are needed.
Supply chain management – Ink manager supports real-time stock level information, calculating total volumes of all base colours connected to the dispenser along with the warehouse contents. It makes adjustments each time stocks are fed to the dispenser, and automatically places purchase orders for base colours when they fall below specified minimum volumes. Regular stock management reports can be generated to help improve processes and forecasting.
Colour corrections – Colour adjustments after dispensing can be needed because of substrate or anilox roll inconsistencies. Both temporary corrections to the bucket or permanent changes to the recipe can be made – either manually, or with the help of a spectrophotometer and colour formulation software. Buckets with corrected ink formulations are registered, so any return ink can be reused. The operator can adjust the recipe so all repeat orders feature the correction.
New colours – New colours can be created with colour formulation software and the recipe can be sent directly to GSE Ink manager. Corrections to the new colour can be recorded; micro volumes can be dispensed for table-top proofing.
Traceability – The software provides instant access to information about the quality and quantity of ink returns processed, the ingredients for any job, and conversely, which orders were produced with any specific batch of ink. Should a complaint be received, the printing house can react and pin-point the cause at speed, in accordance with ISO, GMP or BRC standards – an assurance that is vital for food and pharmaceutical packaging. Additionally, reporting facilities enable batch traceability, together with expiry date and press return buckets used, taking into account barrel changes where necessary.
Management reporting – Comprehensive reports are provided, based on reliable sources, on-demand, so sound strategic decisions can be taken. They can be viewed and exported, allowing data to be viewed anywhere, with many third-party software packages, including Microsoft Excel. Among the real-time summaries available is a top 20 component usage report. Other predefined reports are available for returns, orders, recipes and traceability.
Cost control – Accurate ink volume requirements per job are available with an algorithm that takes into account coverage levels and substrate type to make precise predictions. Ink consumption cost per order, including the subtraction of press return inks, can be reported.
Workflow management – By compiling job lists that enable split work preparation and ink production listings, planning is easier as return ink buckets can be collected beforehand. Job lists can be prepared for forthcoming shifts too, so there is no confusion when handing work over to colleagues.
Software integration – With web-based functionality and mobile app technology, Ink manager offers the ability to integrate multiple information streams – for example, from software for prepress and colour formulation – so all relevant process information can be gathered and read on a single screen. One-time data entry is also possible. Furthermore, links with ERP systems enable the exchange of information such as prepared orders, recipes and order data between systems.