Agfa introduces robotic plate loader to automate prepress

Streamlines speed and speeds up printers' prepress operations

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Agfa
Agfa introduces a plate loading robot that streamlines and speeds up printers’ prepress operations, while reducing the overall cost

Agfa’s robotic plate loader frees prepress staff from heavy manual, repetitive tasks such as plate loading cassettes of autoloaders, or fixing pallets on the base frame of skid loaders. “Heatset printers usually have multiple presses with different sizes, and therefore multiple CTP lines. Linked to that come so-called Combo loading configurations, each consisting of a pallet loader and autoloader. The robotic plate loader replaces both configurations, reducing footprint by up to 30%, and making prepress operations more efficient and productive,” says Iris Bogunovic, Product manager Plate & CTP Systems at Agfa.

In the first phase, Agfa offers its plate loading robot to printing companies using its Avalon VLF platesetters. The robot is custom-built according to a printer’s exact needs and can simultaneously feed multiple plate production lines with a picking speed of up to 80 printing plates per hour, independent of plate size. The set-up is especially convenient for printers that need to handle multiple (up to five) plate sizes. For optimal ease of use, the plate loading robot is fully integrated with Agfa’s Apogee workflow software.

Leading Scandinavian printed marketing solutions provider Stibo Complete is an early adopter of Agfa’s robotic plate loader. As the company’s strategy for the future includes a whole range of investments, as well as acquisitions of companies, one of the conditions for its success is the configuration of its print business to handle more output with fewer resources. The investment in Agfa’s new state-of-the-art plate loading robot supports their journey perfectly.

“Automation is important in the strategy of any growing and forward-looking company,” says Svend Erik Grue Nielsen, Operations and Development manager at Stibo Complete. “Agfa’s robot plate loader gives us a competitive edge as it improves our productivity, reduces costs, minimizes mistakes, and optimizes working conditions for our employees. Our plate loading robot saves employees from approximately 230 tonnes of heavy lifting per year.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

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As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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