Grafica News - January 2009

Protolab: From manual to automation in one go

Why you switched over to automation?
The manual process was holding good when we had our operations on just a 1500 sq ft area. Since we were a quality driven company, we started getting orders from large companies and MNC's and also export orders. Hence there was a need to have a larger space to cope with the quantum jump in demand. We then shifted to a new premise with 35000 sq.ft area in New Mumbai. With the implementation of ISO and other global quality standards, and with kind of customers that we cater, the situation called for automation of operations. Compared to manual operations where drying is labor intensive as a result of which turn around of jobs was very slow, faster delivery was not possible especially in the kind of industrial job that we handle which involves multi color printing. Besides, there used to be higher rejection due to dust settling down on the jobs kept for drying. With the advent of automation, all these problems are now solved and we offer faster delivery of products with consistent quality, reliability and efficiency.

Are you satisfied with Grafica machines?
I feel, I made a right decision as I got sturdy machines, assured service back up, training for my personnel, besides chance to avail of DMI workshop program as it happens. We want to mention here that, even though when we run two jet air dryers simultaneously there is hardly any sound of machine on the shop- floor, they are quite silent and meets very high standards of drying quality. To sum up, I am contended with Grafica which helped me to achieve consistent quality, reliability, efficiency and faster production.

What about after sales service?
If at all there were any problems, these machines never remained idle for more than few hours. Since we have stabilized the automated process and our operators and staff got training, we have now no problem. The performance of the machine is so much consistent that it hardly requires any service!

Your views on DMI?
I have realized the importance of training when I absorbed the fully DMI trained students in my shop floor. These students have knowledge not just in screen printing techniques but in the machine operations as well. They have acquired the knowledge right from press to press to post press processes. We need more organized institutes to teach basics to advanced skills in screen printing. There is an acute shortage of skilled manpower in screen printing.

What is your perception about screen printing ?
Today there are advanced technology available worldwide in screen printing. Small printers, who have mostly manual set up, may find it difficult to adapt to the new technologies initially. In order to meet the dual requirement both quantity and quality - of print buyers especially those of reputed brands, screen printers will have to move into automation or semi automation. With the fast drying technology, better screen making, improved color management systems, printers are able to achieve high volume, high quality with low price which the print buyer demands today.

What is the importance of quality in industrial screen printing?
Due to cut throat competition, the print buyers demand quality print output from the printers. This very fact forces printers to move from manual to automatic. One may also try to offer low priced products by using low priced input. Use of low quality input will only produce low quality output at cheap price. But customers are now more and more quality conscious and they do not mind paying premium if the product is of high standard. We do not compromise on quality. We at Protolab believe in using finest materials like polycarbonates, polyester, polymers, for laminating and mounting layers, conductive paste, glass epoxy copper clad for the PCB, etc. Our aim is to give our customer nothing less than the finest and the best. We are committed to manufacture products with a high degree of quality and reliability coupled with competitive price.

In industrial printing, are Indian printers at par with global standards?
Yes. India is producing to global standards but primarily it is focused on small volume niche market segments and if we automate and train our resources we can color the world beyond what the eye can perceive.

Your future plans?
Our plan is to enhance capacities and for that we have acquired new facilities and we are establishing additional 10000 sq ft of clean room facilities where we are planning to cater to the auto and white goods industry.

Yours message to the screen printers doing industrial jobs?
Protolab believes in reigning in tomorrow and is passionate to deliver beyond Endless possibilities and making impressions where ever you can imagine similarly there is no replacement to screen printing, digital can cater to a market other than what industrial screen printing requirements one must elevate and automate to Print to Perfect every print.

Sanjay Mehta, MD

From complete manual operations to full automation, Protolab moves with guts.
Indeed it needs real guts to switchover from complete manual operations to full automation of industrial screen printing process that too at one go! And Mumbai based Protolab Electro Technologies Pvt. Ltd did it by making a total reshuffle of its manual screen printing set up a year ago. As a leading manufacturers and exporters of Human Machine Interface products and solutions with a unique distinction of introducing many indigenously designed products, Protolab undertakes printing nearly on all industrial substrates.

Protolab's automation process included deployment of 8 semi- automatic screen printing machines, 2 jet air dryer with inline UV, complete screen making setup, 6 independent UV dryers all from Grafica Flextronica.
What else, as a matter of coincidence, the company absorbed four students, fully trained at DMI. Sanjay Mehta, Managing Director of the company shares his experience in the automation of industrial screen printing.

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