By Salmon Creek Media & Marketing
Since 1966, Eurostampa, an Italian-owned company, has produced high-quality labels for the wines and spirits industry, including major international brands Bacardi, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Skol Vodka, and Kahlua. In 2010, they broke ground on their new 70,000 square foot printing facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, headquarters for their North American operations.
“As a family owned, global company that is well-known for supplying the highest quality products and service to our customers, we are always looking for innovative ways of improving our processes to ensure that the products will be fit for purpose, with the leanest and fastest operations available,” explained Eurostampa’s Quality Manager Francisco Siller. “We were already qualified on G7® in offset when the decision was made to qualify as a G7® Master Printer for flexo. G7® for offset brought immediate benefits to our prepress operations that were immediately perceived by our customers, mainly for new projects.”
Beginning the G7 Qualification Process
To manage the process that would lead them to formal qualification as a G7 Master Printer by IDEAlliance, Eurostampa turned to All Printing Resources (APR). The role of the G7 Expert is to facilitate the implementation of the G7 process and submit documentation and samples to IDEAlliance on a company’s behalf.
“APR has been a reliable supplier of flexographic solutions for Eurostampa in North America, and their qualified flexo team is always willing to help Eurostampa on continuous-improvement initiatives,” said Siller. “As soon as we learned that they had G7 expertise in flexography, we decided to develop this project together.”
Bringing a level of experience and a real understanding of the project’s challenges was APR’s Catherine Haynes, a Qualified G7 Expert, who worked closely with Ken Codling, Technical Manager; Bob Fenster, Production PSL Manager; and Francisco Siller. “It was a great experience working with her,” Siller continued. “She is a knowledgeable, ‘hands on,’ committed professional.”
As a neutral, objective observer, Haynes was able to work with the press operators and show them how the G7 qualification process gives them new tools to make their jobs easier. As with any new project, there is always some resistance; however, standardization and process improvement have always been a part of Eurostampa’s culture, and their press operators quickly realized the benefits the G7 process would deliver for their workflow.
Prior to starting G7 implementation, Eurostampa had great process control and was at a GRACoL 6 Standard, which made for a smooth qualification process. They have always been a company striving for operational excellence and measuring the critical variables of every process, and not just on press. This has been the key to the company’s success.
APR brought their own software for the qualification process, but their ultimate goal was to have Eurostampa be able to do it themselves with their own tools. Eurostampa did use their own RIP.
The G7 Qualification Process
The entire G7 qualification process entails:
- Defining the goal
- Running a gray-balance target
- Measuring and analyzing the target
- Applying the curves to the file
- Running the gray-balanced plates
- • Profiling the process
The first phase of the calibration process required linear press runs to benchmark where Eurostampa was and then develop the necessary adjustments curves. Calibration has a two-fold benefit. It brings a process into a known state, one defined by standards that direct us to a commonly agreed state of order. It also helps extend the life of the process, bringing it back to a known state of order—to the specs.
The second phase involved rerunning the jobs with new adjustments. There was a third and final run to confirm the results.
The goal was to qualify three different substrates—metallized, paper, and film—within a three-day period. Everything was calibrated using Curve 3 software for curve adjustments and setting the definition of neutral gray. Calibrating each of these processes to a common, known state means that Eurostampa can now generate one proof because all of their processes share a similar neutral appearance.
For flexographic printing, the standards are still offset-based, so it can be difficult to get the flexo inks to match the target values. The standards are also based on paper and not film. “There were many variables involved,” noted Siller, “and the latest technologies were required. G7 can be more complicated for flexo than it is for offset. With less control of an ink’s density at the press, it limits the ability to achieve target densities. Note: There are flexo-based targets, but they are not presently part of IDEAlliance’s qualifications.
The challenges of Flexo often make it difficult to become a flexo-qualified G7 Master Printer. While there were only 11 printers worldwide that had achieved the high expectations of IDEAlliance’s G7 Master program and were listed in the IDEAlliance G7 Master Database when Eurostampa completed the process in March 2013, Eurostampa easily qualified.
“Although a company only needs to qualify on one substrate,” said APR’s Catherine Haynes, “Eurostampa chose to run three different substrates, and all three passed.”
Now that the G7 qualification has been completed successfully, Eurostampa is educated about the process and enabled to continue applying this gray-balancing process for themselves. However, future G7 Master qualifications by IDEAlliance will require a submission process through a G7 Expert.
Using G7 process control is providing returns in improving quality and efficiencies at Eurostampa. Operators now have specific targets and the tools to help them manage the process, and there is no need to constantly tweak the press conditions.
While it isn’t easy to maintain G7 process control, Siller says that it is doable. “We need to keep current on software updates, target updates, and measuring equipment upgrades. It forces the verification of critical variables on every process before any project goes to the press, and it makes us ‘do it right the first time.’”
Eurostampa Realizes the Benefits of G7
G7 Master Printer status brings significant benefits to a company. Eurostampa has added verification steps, but decreased time lost at the presses for not having the right elements for production. They are seeing quality benefits including color consistency, better setup times, and reduced waste. And, their customers are now working with known standards throughout the prepress workflow, allowing them to achieve a common appearance across their product lines and reduce their costs and time to market.
Eurostampa is a family owned company. In over 40 years of activity it has been able to stand out in all five continents in the world of quality and highly prestigious label printing. It has been able to offer a combination of traditional artwork, typical of what is made in Italy, and high technology using off-set, flexo, screen and digital printing. Right now, Industria Grafica Eurostampa has three different plants, the headquartersin Bene Vagienna (Italy), a second one in Cincinnati, Ohio (Eurostampa North America) and a third one in Glasgow (Eurostampa UK).
About All Printing Resources, Inc. (APR):
All Printing Resources, Inc. (APR) is a proven resource for solutions, trusted service, and support to the flexographic printing industry. APR delivers measurable performance enhancements and total cost reductions, including the after sale attention needed to see optimal results. APR represents some of the most innovative product lines worldwide and takes a “team” approach to deliver process improvement and innovative solutions.