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“With this easy-to-operate system, we were able to reduce production costs by 25%, increase productivity by 30%, and also reduce preparation time for all jobs.”

Kennedy Group enjoys significant efficiency gains with AVT Helios automated inline inspection

With AVT Helios automated inline inspection, leading label manufacturer improves throughput speed and saves on operator time and waste.


The Kennedy Group, Willoughby, Ohio
Since 1974, the family-owned Kennedy Group has specialized in delivering quality labels to its customers, helping businesses across the globe make their mark in industries ranging from automotive to food and beverages and beyond.

The Kennedy Group provides labels for every industry using state-of-the-art printing techniques – from print technologies including economical and chemical-resistant water-based printing, high-quality and fade-resistant UV printing to ASTM-grade UV printing for smaller runs and variable data printing inkjet systems for flexibility. The company’s environmentally friendly servo drive presses ensure higher productivity, while its flexographic printing capability offers up to 10-color printing. The group regularly handles specialty labels like pressure-sensitive paper and films, as well as roll-fed films.

The Kennedy Group has invested in a 7,000 square-foot Customer Solution Center, which is home to a high-resolution in-line vision inspection system and vertically integrated manufacturing capabilities.

"It essentially allows us to focus on the defects that the customer is most concerned about. More importantly, it allows the operator to focus on the operation of the machine rather than worry about what’s going on with inspection"

Mike Carnahan, Shift Production Supervisor, The Kennedy Group

Removing bottlenecks, streamlining inline inspection
“We have 16 presses at our facility here in Willoughby, Ohio,” said Mike Carnahan, Shift Production Supervisor at The Kennedy Group. “We had an inspection system running already, but it really wasn’t performing as well as we’d hoped. It was missing errors and was proving difficult to use.

“One of our main concerns was the versatility of the system itself when being used by our press operators,” said Mike. “Previously, we’d looked at whichever system was the best value, but we ended up with various different systems, each of which meant that the press operators needed training for each one. They all knew how to operate the presses, but the inspection systems all worked differently so it was causing bottlenecks.

“We decided we wanted to streamline that process and have all the operators using the same inspections service,” said Mike. “We knew AVT had the Helios system in its range, so we began discussions with them. They came and gave demonstrations and the operators loved it.”

"We wanted to give the operators a step up from the previous equipment"

Mike Carnahan, Shift Production Supervisor, The Kennedy Group

Automated inline inspection
The AVT Helios product line is a market-proven automatic 100% inspection solution designed for labels and other narrow web printing applications. Helios automatically inspects printed labels or packages for defects and imperfections, delivering exceptional quality results and eliminating customer rejections. The Helios product supports every stage of the print production process – with a comprehensive range of print scenarios and workflows.

“After AVT came and gave us a presentation and demonstrated its features and performance, we took the first system,” said Mike. “It can monitor multiple different inspection zones at once. For example, if a customer has a logo that they’re very particular about, we can set the sensitivity highest around that element of the job.

“It essentially allows us to focus on the defects that the customer is most concerned about,” he said. “More importantly, it allows the operator to focus on the operation of the machine rather than worry about what’s going on with inspection.”

"It saves on operator time, waste and improves throughput speed, so delivers significant efficiency gains to the business"

Mike Carnahan, Shift Production Supervisor, The Kennedy Group

Improved results, greater efficiency
“We now have Helios inline inspection systems on three of our MPS flexo presses,” said Mike. “After we purchased the first one, everyone was impressed with what it was doing and how easy it was to set up and use. We decided after around three or four months that this was by far the superior product and we would install it across our MPS (multi-print system) flexo presses. We wanted to give the operators a step up from the previous equipment.”

Mike explained that in comparison to the previous system, AVT Helios provided the ideal combination of maximum performance and ease of use. “For example, the previous machine wasn’t easy to backtrack,” he said. “If the operator was at the back of the machine, it would alert them and they would then see that there was an error, but they’d then have to expand the print and search to find the error. But Helios actually shows the operator what the defect is and where, at the click of just one button or the touch of a screen. They don’t have to go through a whole series of steps.

Mike said the installation process was also very simple and straightforward, which made transitioning to Helios inline inspection an easy move to make. “The interface was great and means we have technology, which is both accurate and easy to use,” he said. “It saves on operator time, reduces waste and improves throughput speed, so delivers significant efficiency gains to the business. We’re now in the process of adding a fourth Helios system so that we have one on all of our MPS flexo presses.”

For additional information please download the free guide- https://www.esko.com/en/lp/avt/3-ways-to-integrate-print-inspection-technologies-into-your-label-production-plant

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