Machine Vision & Web Inspection

Raising profit margins with automated, data-connected print inspection

By Baldwin Vision Systems global branding, PR & communications manager Craig Du Mez.


n today’s highly competitive environment, printers and converters often think in terms of survival rather than growth. It’s easy to slide into the mindset that operating costs are, for the most part, fixed—as are profit margins. Minor process improvements here and there can result in minor successes, and keep the business going. However, there are large operational and competitive advantages to be realized by committing resources and organizational focus to delivering consistent print quality. Investment in the latest automation and data-connected technologies can quickly pay for itself and provide significant bottom-line growth far into the future. When considering that investment, it’s crucial to factor in not only the up-front capital expense, but also the business expenses that can be greatly reduced or even eliminated. What is the annual cost to your business for material waste—both substrates and ink? What is the annual cost of press down-time to manually fix print quality issues or simply set up the next job? What is the annual cost incurred by returns and re-runs? What is the annual or potential cost of litigation associated with defective print? What is the cost of losing a valued print customer due to quality issues? Many of these costs are easy to calculate before making decisions on technology investments. Other returns on investment are no less real, but more difficult to quantify: The cost of damage to your reputation, the savings realized through monitoring and improving processes, the cost of retaining and retraining skilled press operators, the value of being able to remedy problems as they occur (rather than after the job is run), the value of comparison and consistency from press to press, shift to shift, facility to facility.

To that end, Baldwin Vision Systems has recently introduced new technologies aimed at ensuring consistent print quality. The new data-connected ‘Defender™’ platform provides a comprehensive inspection and defect tracking solution for wide web applications. Components of the Defender workflow include:

Defender 100% Inspection utilizes the industry’s most advanced defect detection algorithms to quickly classify each defect, driving better print quality decisions. Unique self-learning algorithms monitor the capabilities of the press

accurate, data-connected workflow. The system provides unique ‘Object-Based Inspection’ throughout the printing process—ensuring tighter tolerances and fewer false defects. Areas of interest on the printed substrate can be defined for enhanced or reduced levels of inspection. Operators can easily spot errors and make adjustments in real time, as well as manage defects throughout the entire process. Defect positions and images are recorded and can be accessed at multiple post-press processes.

and automatically apply optimum inspection tolerances to each job. Job settings can be quickly modified and saved. Manual fine-tuning makes it possible to reduce false or nuisance alarms by simply adjusting sensitivity levels for multiple defect types and different substrates. Defender Data Central offers intelligent print inspection by using the visual maps of each inspected roll. Quality control operators can analyze for defect distribution, count, and type. Out-of-tolerance areas are identified for removal, and job-based quality reports can be generated. Defender Waste Manager can interface with rewinding, slitting, and sheeting equipment to automatically control when they stop/reject— allowing for fast and easy removal of defective material. Defect location data speeds up the converting process by allowing operators to fast- forward to the exact location of the defect within a roll.

For narrow web applications and highly regulated industries such as currency, banknote, security, and pharmaceutical, Baldwin Vision Systems offers the ‘Guardian’ data-connected workflow technologies:

Guardian PQV 100% Print Inspection can inspect all types of materials and substrates, enabling printers to eliminate every defect with an efficient,

With the optional Guardian RTM Real-Time Monitoring data-connecting technology, printers can track and compare many different production metrics. Press managers can monitor changes as they happen, and make highly informed decisions about print quality, defect management, and even operator-to-operator performance. Guardian RTM uses a central server to monitor, collect, and display real-time inspection data on a simple, uncluttered dashboard. RTM can simultaneously collect data for multiple presses, jobs, and even across multiple plants. The combination of technologies ties together how you manage your processes, your print customers, and even your people. For all advanced print inspection technologies, ease of use is another important consideration for quickly deploying new technologies and realizing a fast return on investment. Systems that require very little training to operate will benefit the bottom line not only when the technology is installed, but also far into the future as workforce turnover impacts the business. Aside from training, systems that are powerful yet simple to use deliver a day-to-day boost to production efficiency and increase your ability to achieve perfect print quality.

Advanced, data-connected workflows give printers and converters the ability to make strategic decisions based on facts. With a tracking workflow, it’s possible to eliminate all defects from outgoing product, providing perfect quality to brand owners. It is also possible to make tactical decisions about which defects do and do not need to be removed, based on your customers’ speci¬fications. This ensures maximum yield and maximum profitability—job after job.


September 2021

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