MPS completes first remote installation in Japan
Alongside local distributor T&K Toka, MPS has remotely installed a press at Japanese converter Takara Pac.
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This is an article published by Labels & Labeling, Page 59. Aakriti Agarwal reports.
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.
The press was installed remotely with professionals and engineers coordinating each step
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 factory trained engineer. Additionally, the T&K Toka engineers have been involved in several installations of MPS machines in Japan and were trouble-shooting when needed.’
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.
“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”
‘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.’
The new MPS press was unloaded and installed remotely by the Japanese converter with the help of MPS engineers and local agent
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.’
“Preparation was key. We communicated frequently with the customer and MPS to ensure smooth installation without leaving any ambiguity at any step”
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.
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.
The new MPS EFA 340 remotely installed in Japan
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.’
Future of Remote Installation
With the coronavirus pandemic changing the way many companies operate, Tim Klappe, managing director, Asia Pacific, MPS Systems believes that remote installations will become increasingly common. ‘Monitoring via webcams or smart glasses will certainly be used in the future,’ he says.
MPS certifies engineers to install presses. This can normally only be done if certain factory training is conducted and when several installations are completed under the guidance of an experienced engineer. While MPS will continue to send certified engineers to perform installations and training, the company could evaluate sending detailed instruction manuals and guide the installation via a webcam for retrofits and training of certain functions of the machine, says Klappe.
Furthermore, instructions of certain functions can be done online with the use of a webcam. This will save money for both the customer and MPS. ‘We have a range of training modules on video. MPS will continue to refresh the operation skills of the operators remotely,’ says Klappe. ‘Additionally, each MPS press has hundreds of sensors that enable us to remotely evaluate the performance of the press together with the customer. Based on this, tailor-made training can be given either remotely or by flying in a specialist.’
About Takara Pac
Takara Pac, part of Takara Group, started printing labels in August 1982. The company installed its first digital label press in 2010 followed by an MPS EC 330mm 8-color machine in 2012. Takara Pac upgraded its digital press in 2015 and has added several MPS flexo machines since then.
On opting for yet another MPS press, Fujii-san explains: ‘While we had some teething problems in the beginning with the first MPS press, the continuous support and conscientious follow up by T&K Toka and MPS during these periods gave us confidence in the company as we were happy with the good cooperation from their end. Thereafter, the MPS EC machine in our factory became a pivotal production press, and since then has highly contributed to the receiving of job orders.’
Takara Pac prints on 1.2 million linear meters of labelstock every year. The company mainly caters to the pharmaceutical industry. However, since installation of the MPS EC press, it has successfully printed POP labels as well. With this new MPS flexo machine, Takara Pac is eager to secure more customers and increase sales.
Takara and Takara Pac have spent a long time running flexo presses in Japan, where there have been fewer flexo installations compared to western countries due to past considerations of print quality compared to letterpress. The installation of the new MPS press demonstrates a firm commitment to flexo print technology.
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