Nilpeter manufactures presses at Nilpeter USA in Cincinnati, OH, in addition to its global headquarters in Denmark. The company is family-owned, which is something that sets it apart from other OEMs, according to Paul Teachout, VP sales and marketing at Nilpeter USA. “Since the beginning, we’ve had the same ownership. There are tremendous benefits to being a family-owned business with a long-term vision, compared to being owned by a private equity group,” Teachout says. “Once you’re owned by private equity, your future becomes just a four-year plan.”
The long and short term vision for Nilpeter is based on what’s known as Industry 4.0, which is the name for the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. And part of the company’s aim is to solve the workforce challenge within the flexo industry: As longtime press operators reach retirement age, replacing them with qualified talent has not been easy.
For Teachout, today’s flexography is no longer considered a craft, but a science. “What we’re doing is applying the science of flexo,” Teachout says, adding that the result is the new FA Line.
More with less
In order to achieve its vision, Nilpeter embarked on a major overhaul of its manufacturing operations. At its US facility in Ohio, the company invested $6 million in 4.0 technology. With the latest in automated manufacturing equipment – think robotic arms – the future is now at Nilpeter USA.
“We have invested in 4.0 so we can do more with less, improve our efficiencies and modernize our workforce,” Teachout says. “Now that we have lived 4.0, we want to share it. The all-new FA is the result of this journey. The innovative 4.0 platform is engineered to meet the needs of the modern press operator and increase converter efficiencies and profitability.”
Seeing its vision come to fruition, Teachout adds that the revamped manufacturing operation has reenergized the Nilpeter workforce. “They see the commitment to them and our customers. It also has attracted new talent to our team. And converters that add this new, modern and automated press will experience this too!”
It would be an understatement to say the press’ launch has been a success. So far, quite a few converters already have invested in the new FA Line, in a very short period of time. In fact, since its official launch in September 2017 at Labelexpo Europe in Brussels, more than 40 have been sold.
Teachout describes the press as the perfect marriage of steel and automation. “What makes the new FA stand out is the platform on which it sits,” he explains. “With automated, state-of-the-art machining capability we create the FA one piece module in multiple manufacturing locations around the world. The entire operation is managed by big data through the Internet of Yhings for real time tracking and production control. All main components are produced in-house, including the 2nd generation CLEANINKING chamber which improves ink handling and consumption.
“This new press is a benchmark of flexibility and modularity,” Teachout stresses. “Plus, it is important to remember that Nilpeter is a complete press manufacturer – steel in and presses out – we are not simply an assembly house,” he says.
The FA Line has complete Air Control Satellite (ACS) capabilities for total operation, which is an element that can attract the newest wave of press operators – those that have grown up using smart phones and tablets. All jobs on the FA can be saved and recalled from the ACS tablets, which can be positioned anywhere in front of the machine or even handheld for remote press operation. Teachout explains, “This method of operation directly engages with a younger workforce to close the skills gap. Any predictable or repeatable task can now be done through automation to improve efficiencies. There are no knobs or handles on the all new FA, another sign of modern press operation.”
The FA allows printers to enhance the performance of their press with Value-Adding Units, Application and Automation Packages, according to application needs and budget. “Future customizations are often done with a simple press of a button. The entire platform both mechanically and software are of a module methodology, at any time now or in the future. As new innovations or trends present themselves the press will be able to be enhanced and execute new opportunities without a complete reinvestment,” Teachout says.
Nilpeter will be celebrating 100 years of family-owned leadership next year. In addition to the revamped manufacturing process it is using to build its presses, it’s three demonstration and Technology Centers in Denmark, Ohio and India have all been streamlined to mirror each other, providing converters across the globe the opportunity to visit, learn and see for themselves the benefits of the new FA Line and Industry 4.0 manufacturing.
Teachout concludes, "This investment in our future should be a clear indicator of our long term commitment to our partners."