Martin E-Z Stick Labels, based in Santa Fe Springs, California, has installed a Label AutoMounter from JM Heaford, a supplier of mounting and proofing systems for the tag and label, flexible packaging, corrugated and gravure markets.
Ordered at Labelexpo Americas last year and delivered in December, the Label AutoMounter has led to an overall reduction in plate changing time of around 75 percent since installation.
The investment was made to enable E-Z Stick to easily ramp up production after the company installed a new flexo/inkjet hybrid press. According to Richard Martinez, owner of E-Z Stick Labels, the Heaford Label AutoMounter is already saving up to 50 hours per week.
‘When I began asking around for recommendations of plate mounters some time ahead of my visit to Labelexpo, I was looking for accuracy first and foremost. One name kept coming up: JM Heaford,’ said Martinez. ‘I’d never used any Heaford equipment before, so I needed to be persuaded, especially as the price was a little higher than some of the alternative offerings.’
Martinez said the ease-of-use of the Heaford Label AutoMounter was the first big surprise: ‘I think the tagline at the show was something like “So easy your boss can use it”. I assumed that was just a marketing gimmick, until I did actually try it. In fact, everyone in our company has been trained how to use it. We’ve been using it since day one without any dedicated operator and it’s been dead-on accurate every time.’
Gregg Gayle of US Flexo Solutions, Heaford’s representative in the US, met Richard Martinez at the show and explained the benefits of the Label AutoMounter. Taking less than one minute to mount any plate, the automated processes of the AutoMounter eliminate the need for skilled operators and ensure consistent plate mounting round-the-clock. Operator intervention is limited to just simple loading of the cylinder into pneumatically operated headstocks and loose positioning of the plate over curved manipulators. The AutoMounter then takes over, precisely positioning the plate using dual-axis closed-loop controls and completing the process by means of an integrated lay-down roller. Overall control is maintained via a simple, multi-lingual graphic interface, and the system can store and recall over 10,000 jobs.
Specialized in pressure-sensitive and wraparound labels in four colors and up to ten spot colors, E-Z Stick maintains a personalized, on-demand service for primarily California-based companies in the apparel and food and beverage markets. The company prints on a variety of substrates using a 17in web width MPS press and two 10in Mark Andy presses. It currently averages between 40 and 60 plate changes per day. Since installing the Heaford Label AutoMounter, overall plate change over time has reduced from around 12 minutes to less than three minutes per plate for the complete cycle. This includes cylinder cleaning, taping, loading, job selection, mounting and then unloading. The plate mounting element alone is only around one minute of this time. According to Martinez, this time-saving alone justifies the investment.
‘We have never needed to remount a plate yet. And because we have a number of repeat jobs, we also save more time through not having to input job data repeatedly as it stores all the details in a database,’ concluded Martinez. ‘We really are beyond happy with the machine. JM Heaford are masters of their craft. You get what you pay for, and then some.’