ISO 12647 certification for packaging printers


The use of standardised print quality specifications within the ISO 12647 standard has been spreading rapidly over the past two years. One of the largest printers in the world, China’s Heshan Astros Printing Ltd, recently received ISO 12647 certification from UGRA, the Swiss Center of Competence for Media and Printing Technology. Heshan Astros, a division of the LEO Paper Group, has close to one hundred offset presses which had to be verified and brought into sync with standard tolerances in order to comply with the ISO standard. It is the first company in China with ISO 12647 certification. Worldwide, a little over 600 printing plants are now ISO 12647 certified, and the number is rapidly growing. Increasingly, they are being joined by packaging printers and converters. If anything is holding up the pace of the ISO 12647 standard’s spreadout, it is the still limited number of accredited certifiers, rather than the willingness of the industry to go for it.
Benson Group
One of the first packaging printers who recently acquired an “ISO 12647 Proficient Printer” certificate, has been Benson Box in the UK.

Benson Box is part of the Benson Group with headquarters in Bardon, Leicestershire, and specialises in the production of printed folding cartons for the food industry. Work on the ISO standard is now underway at the other Benson Group sites in Northern England (Gateshead and Newcastle), and at its Medica Packaging plant in Crewe. In 2008, when Benson Group was nominated UK Packaging Company of the Year, it achieved a sales turnover of GBP 95 million with the production of food cartons and pharmaceutical packaging. It has 250 employees. Customers include major brands and retailers such as GlaxoSmithKline, Reckitt Benkiser and leading supermarket chains. Since 2000, the company invested more than GBP 25 million in new equipment across the four sites. Recently, it announced the acquisition of various assets of Glasgow-based packaging company Cameron Linn.

“Colour standards are a hot topic in the industry at the moment, and we are therefore delighted to become the first food-focused packaging specialist to have achieved the status of ISO 12647 Proficient Printer in the UK,” said Mark Kerridge, Managing Director of the Benson Group. “Whilst we have previously focused on our own internal quality standards, this internationally recognised standard means that we can offer customers the additional assurance that our printing will match that of other ISO 12647 printers supplying other elements of a campaign. We also anticipate being able to take the standard into customers\’ offices, where they are often producing proofs. Once customer confidence has been established, proofs produced to ISO 12647 and then run at Benson Group under the same standards will significantly reduce the need for customers to pass press proofs.”

The group’s Bardon site runs five B1-format offset presses and set-up checks of each machine needed to be carried out in order to ensure that they remained in balance and were able to print consistent and repeatable results. Test jobs were run on the presses and measurements taken for dot gain and density. Following analysis and interpretation of the printed results any adjustments required to match the standard were then performed at the RIP of the company\’s platesetter. The ISO implementation was supported by UK-based Mellow Colour Ltd, which also provided its PrintSpec colour quality control software.

Smurfit Kappa
One of the first packaging companies which has been ISO 12647 certified in continental Europe is Smurfit Kappa Zedek, part of the Smurfit Kappa Group, the European leader in containerboard, solid board, graphic board, corrugated and solid board packaging. It has a key position in several other packaging and paper market segments. The Group has an annual sales turnover  in excess of EUR 7 billion, operations at some 400 locations, and 40,000 employees. The spread of the Smurfit Kappa Group encompasses 20 European and 9 Latin American nations, as well as Canada, Singapore, USA and South Africa. The Smurfit Kappa Zedek site in the Netherlands is specialised in the production of POP-materials and carton packaging. The software it uses for controlling print consistency is Pressview, developed by Holland-based Koldenhof Grafimedia.

One of the latest ISO 12647 certifications implemented in the packaging industry has been at AGI Media, a leading packing supplier to the media entertainment industry and part of MeadWestVaco Corporation. AGI Media in Slough, UK, produces a wide range of cartons and specialty packaging including patented Digipak and Digistak disc packages, rigid boxes and slipcases. US-based MeadWestvaco Corporation (NYSE: MWV) is one of the world’s largest packaging providers in the healthcare, personal and beauty care, food, beverage, media and entertainment, and home and garden industries.
With an annual sales turnover of USD 7 billion and 24,000 employees worldwide, MWV operates in more than 30 countries.

AGI Media’s General Manager Andy Watts stated: “We pride ourselves on producing premium packaging and have embraced standardisation and critical process control to ensure quality and predictable, consistent and repeatable colour results to help build and protect our customers’ brands.” The ISO 12647-2 implementation followed the company’s earlier ISO 12647-7 certification, covering proofing processes for closed loop colour. AGI Media had already implemented an ISO 14001 environmental management and ISO 9001 NQA quality management system, and has been accredited to  FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft), FSC and various UK safety standards.

ISO 12647 is the standard upon which most printing specifications are based. Its target gradation, ink colour, trapping, grey balance and dot gain values are based on hundreds of high quality print samples gathered and analysed from around the globe by ISO’s TC 130 which is the technical committee for graphic technology. The standard has 7 parts: Part 1: Parameters and measurement methods; Part 2: Offset lithographic processes; Part 3: Coldset offset lithography and letterpress on newsprint; Part 4: Publication gravure process; Part 5: Screen printing; Part 6: Flexographic printing; Part 7: Digital proofing.

Monsoon Summit on ISO 12647 implementation
IppStar is organising one-day intensives in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai to  provide commercial and packaging printers with a comprehensive understanding of the ISO 12647 standard and the implications of its implementation. In the tradition of IppStar’s Monsoon Summits, the interactive workshops with presentations by TC 130 members are aimed at technical and management personnel of companies seeking to standardise print quality in order to be more competitive in the global market. They will learn what the standard consists of, why it should be applied, what the implementation and certification process entails, how long it will take, and which prerequisites, costs and benefits are to be expected.

IppStar’s Monsoon Summit on ISO 12647 implementation will take place on 14 July in New Delhi, 16 July in Mumbai, and  18 July in Chennai. We expect that more than 50% of the attending printers will be influenced by interactively taking part in the workshops to improve their understanding of the detailed standards necessary to maintain consistent print quality. A significant number of participants will implement ISO 12647-2 process standardisation and certification within the next year.

The costs of participation in the event, which will be supported by major advocates in the industry, are Rupees 5,000 inclusive of service tax, payable to IPP Services Training and Research Pvt. Ltd. Delegates will receive a kit containing documentation of the Monsoon Summit intensives as well as in-depth background materials.

Vivek Sagar at research1@ or Shilpa Purohit at, tel: +91-120-254 0258; IPP Services, Training and Research Pvt Ltd, N-10, Sector-XI, Noida 201 301,

Mumbai: Gregory Alvares at, tel +91 22 2781 4290-3, cell +91-9821286704; Plot No. 41/4, Doctor\’s Plaza, Sector 30/A, Vashi, Navi Mumbai 400 705.