– Fully automatic “Plate to Unit” solution for autonomous printing gains industry attention. First Plate to Unit gets installed in the USA.
Heidelberg’s Plate to Unit has received the Pinnacle Award for Technology for 2023 by PRINTING United Alliance, the U.S. based most comprehensive member-based printing and graphic arts association. A highly qualified panel of judges across the printing industry evaluated the annual contest’s 160+ entries in more than 58 categories spanning analogue, digital, output, and non-output technologies.
“The Pinnacle Technology Award honours technologies that are ‘truly innovative and likely to have a significant impact’ among commercial hardware, software, consumables, and industrial and screen equipment,” said Dawn Nye, Program Manager for Pinnacle Awards, PRINTING United Alliance.
The Heidelberg’s Plate to Unit is a fully automatic printing plate logistics solution for the Speedmaster XL 106 designed to reduce operator workload and ensure higher process reliability. Printing plates are automatically placed in and removed from the correct plate-changing shaft without operator intervention. In addition to boosting productivity, the automation increases the reliability of plate changes and reduces the risk of scratches on the plate, which can cause paper waste.
“Plate to Unit is an important milestone in Heidelberg’s Push-to-Stop concept on the way to a more autonomous printing plant,” said Clarence Penge, Executive Vice President for Product Management for Heidelberg USA. “Being honoured with the Pinnacle Award for Technology shows the industry recognizes our leadership in process automation across the entire production supply chain.”
First North American “Plate to Unit” Installation
With a history of investing in the newest technology, Cober, a family-owned commercial printer headquartered in Kitchener, Ontario, recently installed the first Plate to Unit in North America for its Speedmaster XL 106-8P. The company runs a significant amount of short run work and has invested in the Heidelberg technology to eliminate bottlenecks in the platemaking process. Since installation, Cober has been able to consistently achieve two-minute makereadies “without burning out its crew,” said President Todd Cober. Plate to Unit minimizes the press downtime that results from the operators changing out plates for the next run. With an autonomous plate-changing process, Cober says his team’s focus is now on the quality of job. “We expect a lot out of the press and the crews that run it, and this system is critical to hitting our productivity targets. After using Plate to Unit for a couple of months, I can’t imagine buying a press without this functionality. It has become a game changer.”
In addition to streamlining the plate changing process, Plate to Unit also provides complete real-time job information for the operators. Through a sensor-controlled process, loaded plates are scanned –pulling all necessary job information for each form and preloading the data, which allows for very fast makereadies.
“Customers are increasingly investing in industrial solutions from Heidelberg,” said Penge. “Plate to Unit along with our other automated and robotic solutions demonstrate our commitment to helping our customers gain efficiency in all areas of production. We’re honoured that PRINTING United Alliance recognized these efforts.”