Automation Arena details announced for Labelexpo Americas 2018

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At this year's Labelexpo Americas, MPS takes part in the ground-breaking Automation Arena.  The automated shrink sleeve production element is a world first. Here are the just announced details of what and who you will see alongside MPS and our EF 430, 8-color flexo press.

Alongside MPS will be Accraply, Avery Dennison, AVT, Cerm, Esko, Grafotronic, Klockner Pentaplast, Kocher + Beck, Matho, Xeikon/Flint Group, WLE, and Zeller+Gmelin.

Between them they will be digitally printing several different self-adhesive label designs and printing multiple shrink sleeve designs using flexo ‒ all on two fully automated live press lines at Labelexpo Americas 2018.

The Automation Arena will cover job creation, right through to pre-press, printing, inspection, finishing, waste removal, warehousing and customer invoicing. This will all be centrally managed by a Cerm management information system (MIS), and integrated with an Esko software platform, supporting end-to-end label and shrink sleeve workflow.

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Located in Hall F of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago, the Automation Arena will be showcasing three 30-minute demonstrations on the first two days of the show at 11am, 1pm and 3pm, and a further two on the last day at 11am and 1pm. Each session will be filmed live and relayed via large screens to show visitors every detailed aspect of the job.

The initial job creation, artwork uploading, MIS order processing and workflow automation for both presses will take place in Cerm’s system before label personalization, pre-flighting, quality checks, color management, the creation of rules for inspection, proofing and customer approval are progressed using Esko’s software platform and automation engine. This will be followed by Cerm scheduling and substrate checking, tool ordering and the sending of JDF files, ready for digital label printing to a Xeikon CX3 press, integrated with a Xeikon laser die-cutting unit, turret rewinder,and Matho’s waste removal. It will be and printing on Avery Dennison 79100 Fasson 2 Mil white top coated self-adhesive facestock and using a Flint Group Digicoat gloss varnish. When the Xeikon press starts its run for label printing, the audience will be able to see the different identification barcodes in operation, AVT defect detection, laser die-cutting set-up and rewinder automation.

Flexo press shrink sleeve print by MPS
The conventional flexo press shrink sleeve print runs will be produced on an MPS EF 430, 8-color flexo press - with no gear cylinder connection, intelligent pressure setting and zero waste roll change - which in turn will be fitted with a Kocher + Beck UR Precision 440 U non-stop butt splicer and AVT’s Helios product line inspection technology. It will be printing on Klockner Pentaplast PETG 50 micron sleeve film using Zeller+Gmelin’s 32 Series Nuvaflex range of UV flexo inks developed specifically for sleeve production. On this press, the MPS EF 430 operator reads their MIS-generated job ticket on screen, enabling them to check that plates, tools, inks and substrate had been delivered, and changing the unwind roll butt splicer.

Each roll loaded is scanned and becomes fully traceable throughout the whole process, interacting with the Cerm system in order to provide real-time production values. A Cerm inspection command is also sent to the AVT’s automatic press inspection function, which monitors printing defects.

Printed rolls coming off the flexo press will be identified with an ID barcode which, when scanned, enables an electronic instruction file to automatically set-up shear slitting on a Grafotronic high-speed inspection slitter rewinder. An AVT camera will then automatically stop the machine whenever a defective label is detected in the printed reel so that any repairs can take place. The final, ‘clean’ and slit roll is then rewound and a barcoded label applied to the reel.

Unlike the Automation Arena at Labelexpo Europe 2017, the final two shrink sleeve production stages using Accraply machinery are a world first at a trade show. The clean and slit roll firstly transfers to an Accraply ASFC fully continuous forming and seaming machine. There, the barcode is scanned and the instruction file from the code read to automatically set-up the forming and seaming operation. Secondly, the lay-flat shrink sleeve is transferred to an Accraply DM12 Shrink Sleeve Inspector, a compact vertical seaming inspection machine used for lay-flat quality checking.

The final parts of both job automation processes will return to the Cerm operator and the audience will be taken through steps including warehousing, job picking, shipping carrier allocation, customer notification and invoicing.

Tasha Ventimiglia, Labelexpo Americas event director, commented: “The Automation Arena is something we introduced at Labelexpo Europe last year and it proved such a popular experience that we are bringing it to Labelexpo Americas 2018 for the very first time. The main difference this year however, is that the shrink sleeve automation through the two Accraply elements on show are a world first. It’s therefore a unique opportunity for attendees to experience first-hand how the industry could evolve over the next decade, and meet some of the companies at the forefront of this.”

Mike Fairley, Automation Arena lead and Labelexpo strategic consultant, added: “In an era of ever decreasing run lengths, production bottlenecks, plus shorter lead and delivery times, it seems certain that increasing automation of tomorrow’s label and shrink sleeve plants will become a necessity for their successful performance and profitability. The Automation Arena will provide an important showcase at Labelexpo Americas 2018 of just what is now becoming feasible.”

Fairley will also be hosting three Label Academy master classes that touch on a number of the key components being demonstrated at the Automation Arena, as part of the show’s comprehensive educational program. For master class attendees, the Automation Arena is an unmissable opportunity to see the theory in action.

Labelexpo Americas takes place from 25-27 September at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, Illinois. Spread across five exhibitions halls, well over 400 exhibitors will be taking part.

The Automation Arena is free to attend for all Labelexpo Americas 2018 registered visitors.

For further information on the Automation Arena and participating companies, visit  

For a teaser of this year’s show, watch

The participating company Automation Arena elements are as follows:

  1. Cerm - management information system (MIS)
  2. Esko – software platform for design and pre-press, workflow automation, color management and supply chain
  3. Avery Dennison - Spec #79100 Fasson® 2 Mil White Top Coated/S7000/40#BG self-adhesive labelstock  
  4.  Xeikon/Flint Group – CX3 digital press with X-800 digital front end, LDU laser die-cutting unit, Flint Group Digicoat GP gloss varnish, laser die-cut, slit and rewind labels
  5. AVT - automatic 100% print inspection solution on the press
  6.  Matho - waste management system on the Xeikon press
  7.  WLE - fully automatic core cutter HS servo driven machine
  8. MPS - EF 430 operator featuring UV, hot-air and LED drying technology
  9. Kocher + Beck - UR Precision U440 butt splicer
  10. Klockner Pentaplast - Klockner Pentalabel® Rigid PETG 50 microns shrink film
  11. Zeller+Gmelin - NUVAFLEX® 32 Series range of UV flexo inks developed specifically for sleeve production
  12. Grafotronic – H12 high-speed inspection slitter/rewinder
  13. Accraply - AccraSeam™ FC fully continuous forming and seaming machine and Accraply DM12 Shrink Sleeve Inspector