The Rapida LiveApp with its info panel and maintenance manager functionalities has been on the market for around a year. Moving ahead, it is now to be expanded with the so-called ProductionApp as an assistant in the production environment.
The following situation arises at some point in every print company – a necessary consumable such as an anti-foaming agent or washing solvent has run out. The stores are empty because someone on a previous shift took the last bottle or container but neglected to mention this to anyone! Koenig & Bauer has taken up the challenge of avoiding such annoying circumstances and has developed the ProductionApp as a powerful inventory management and batch tracking tool for use on mobile Android devices. The first practical users are already full of praise for the App.
The basis for the App is the NFC function which is integrated into many smartphones. Use of this technology renders data acquisition in the production hall both simple and reliable. The ProductionApp workflow begins in the stores. The storage locations for the various consumables such as inks, coatings, blankets or powder are provided with an NFC tag. Within the App, subsequently, storage location tags can be assigned to any chosen article. The App then saves these assignments.
During an inventory check or after receiving a new consignment, the relevant article data is displayed for an individual storage location. The storeman can then compare the displayed quantities which those actually present. In case of any differences, the numbers can be corrected very simply. The quantities of new incoming supplies are recorded. For any given article, therefore, current stock levels are reconciled and updated automatically (inventory management). This process is realised with the aid of the NFC function. As soon as the smartphone detects a store tag, the display and input forms are opened automatically. The App does not have to be started beforehand.
At the press, assignments relate to the point of consumption, a particular printing unit for example, and are again controlled by way of NFC tags. The individual locations are assigned via the NFC setup. All relevant information about an article is displayed on the smartphone directly at the place of consumption. The operator selects the quantity which has been topped up or refilled and scans the batch code of the consumable concerned. The camera is activated automatically to scan the code and the code itself is then displayed as soon as it is successfully detected. The operator can also view further useful information, such as when the article concerned must be refilled again or how much ink is required for the current job.
The quantity refilled and the scanned batch number are saved in a database on a job-by-job basis and the remaining stock levels are reduced accordingly. If the quantity in stock falls below a defined threshold, a corresponding e-mail is automatically sent to the responsible stores supervisor or to the purchasing department. The e-mail recipient can be set individually for each article. In this way, the necessary reordering process can be automated. An interface to a webshop is possible and also planned for the future.
The troublesome monitoring of shop floor stocks and downtimes due to missing consumables become a thing of the past. With the aid of the App, capacities are freed up for meaningful and creative tasks. Benefits of the ProductionApp include:
- Tracking of consumables batches
- Inventory management for consumables
- Support for the tasks of the printers and helpers (indication of where something is to be done)
- Availability of a list of all consumables which were used in conjunction with a given job
Besides batch tracking for inks, coatings and the like, it is also possible to monitor consumables such as blankets or blades. The App provides exact information on the number of impressions reached by the currently mounted blankets, for example. Target-actual service life comparisons are another possibility. If the blankets have exceeded the planned service life, this can be reported and visualised. In this way, tasks such as blanket changing or the refilling of powder and washing solvents can be indicated and planned in advance. If consumption changes significantly, the precise causes can be investigated.
The App permits the definition of any number of storage locations and the stocks at different or distributed storage locations can be summarised. A company thus maintains an exact overview of all stock levels at all times. In addition to the consumables for sheetfed offset presses, further products can also be integrated, such as adhesive for a folder-gluer.
Inventory management is greatly simplified with the ProductionApp, because it remembers the order of the shelf areas for each defined storage location. Only three prerequisites must be met in order to use the ProductionApp – one or more Android smartphones with the Rapida ProductionApp, LogoTronic Professional as the production management system and a wireless network at the print company. Specialised advisers from Koenig & Bauer are on hand to assist process-specific set-up and commissioning.