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MPS completes first remote installation in Japan

The press was installed remotely with professionals and engineers coordinating each step

MPS, along with its exclusive distributor in Japan, T&K Toka, has completed the remote installation of a 9+1 color EFA+ 340 press at label converter Takara Pac, based in Yokohama, Japan. 

The remote installation was necessary due to travel and social distancing measures in place during the coronavirus pandemic. 

On preparing his staff for the first such installation, Fujii-san, general manager at Japanese converter Takara Pac, says: ‘We let our staff train with our 8-color MPS EC 330 press before the start of the remote installation of the new press. Additionally, MPS shared the operating manual of the 9+1 color EFA+ 340 press in advance so our staff could prepare.’ 

The detailed installation manual includes pictures, a step-by-step guide and explanation of how to install the press. ‘Furthermore, a set of drawings were delivered to show the detail of each device,’ says Tim Klappe, managing director, Asia Pacific, MPS Systems. 

It helped that T&K Toka, exclusive distributor of MPS presses in Japan, had some experience with the press that was installed. Klappe notes: ‘The customer had confidence in the engineers of the agent. In this case, our agent in Japan had two engineers previously trained at the MPS factory in the Netherlands and had received certification for being a factorytrained engineer. Additionally, the T&K Toka engineers have been involved in several installations of MPS machines in Japan and were trouble-shooting when needed.’

Prepared 
It was the first remote installation that MPS’ agent in Japan, T&K Toka, had attempted. Hyakuno-san, product manager at T&K Toka, says: ‘We focused on what we could do and mentally prepared ourselves for the installation of MPS’s flagship press. Preparation was key. We were determined to give our best and ensured we were ready with web conference procedures, a detailed manual as well as a check list to avoid any bumps along this adventure. We communicated frequently with the customer and MPS to ensure smooth installation without leaving any ambiguity at any step.’

The installation was monitored by camera. Every day, specialists from MPS dialed in to monitor the installation and offer guidance where needed. A review meeting was held on a daily basis to understand the progress and identify any steps that required extra attention. 

‘The cooperation from everybody involved through this installation was really necessary,’ says Hyakuno-san. ‘We were fortunate that all parties involved, including the customer and MPS, were thoughtful and could place their trust in us. The electricity provider and duct supplier were also involved in this installation and everybody shared working space and supported each other without any complaints. We could all work as a team and it is one of the main reasons we could complete this installation in time so the customer could start commercial label production.’ 

Happy with the installation and processes followed, Fujii-san says: ‘T&K Toka staff communicated with MPS through the internet and phone calls throughout the remote installation. MPS could connect to our new press through its remote diagnostic system to stay updated with the status of the installation and offer assistance where required.’

It took all parties involved three weeks to unload, install and run trials on the press before commercial label production began. ‘We already had commercial orders of labels that we had lined up for printing on this press so we could start production as soon as trials were successful,’ says Fujii-san. 

The 9+1 color EFA+ 340 press has a rail-mounted flexo print unit and finishing equipment, including a die-cutting unit and matrix rewinder, corona treatment, and laminating unit. ‘With these movable finishing units, we can print labels in a single pass that we were earlier printing in two passes, thus resulting in huge savings. Moreover, we can print special and high value labels using die-cutting on rail which we can move wherever we want to on the press,’ says Fujii-san. 

Learnings 
Hyakuno-san says: ‘The remote installation of the MPS press at Takara Pac was a great experience and we learned many aspects of label press installation that made the press ready for real label production. We needed skills to understand electricity connection and flow, mechanics of the press, how the press operates and finally actual printing of the labels to complete the installation.

‘We spent time at Takara Pac to see their day-to-day label production on the factory floor. This experience encouraged us to continue enhancing our skills.’

The agent wanted to deliver a perfectly installed press, so we continued to face anxiety through the installation press. ‘The date was already set by the customer for when they wanted to make trial tests and then run real production on this new press. We gave it our best to ensure deadlines were met even though we were working with remote assistance,’ says Hyakuno-san.

For T&K Toka engineers from Japan – for whom English is not their first language – it was a challenge to understand the manuals written in English. ‘We and the customer both faced this challenge. Compared to a native English speaker, it would take us longer to understand instructions,’ says Hyakuno-san.

‘However, one of the most important lessons we took away from this experience was that we would learn a lot about the industry as well as the profession and grow exponentially if we move forward without being discouraged by adversity.’ 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakriti Agarwal is India and Southeast Asia editor for Labels & Labeling.

Aakriti has been India editor for a number of years, and editor of the online newsletter, Label News India.

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