Rapida ProductionApp for inventory management and consumables tracking via smartphone

Tried and tested at Schur Pack Germany

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Blanket change on a Rapida 145: the blanket is registered by app on the printing unit on which it is used and its service life can be precisely tracked and planned
Blanket change on a Rapida 145: the blanket is registered by app on the printing unit on which it is used and its service life can be precisely tracked and planned

Schur Pack Germany installed three automated medium and large-format Rapida presses in 2015, when it built a completely new packaging plant in Gallin. Since the end of last year the company has been a pilot user of one of the Rapida LiveApps. The ProductionApp takes over the complete warehouse management in the company as well as the batch tracking required for the printing of food packaging. At the production facility, the inks were tracked, a whole range of additional products such as varnishes, dampening solution additives, rubber coatings, oil, filter mats, rake lips, Vaseline and coating defoamers were added. The same goes for plate developers in prepress.

Readily accepted among press operators

The ProductionApp is simple and easy to use. Schur Pack’s non-smartphone users in the 50+ age group can also use the app comfortably. As soon as the smartphone is held over an NFC tag in the warehouse or at the press, the camera scans the code or corresponding field for entries. All data is recorded as it is delivered, which has greatly increased acceptance. This works on Android or Apple products, which is connected to Wifi. If there is no wifi in the ambiance, it is important to check the weblink, that explains how to connect to a hotspot.

The press crew also sees the app as a great help as it is no longer necessary to write down the products used. However, your phone must be in proper working condition. If that is not the case, you might want to call the professionals at fix my phone now to get your phone repaired. 

Schur Pack Germany currently has 121 NFC tags in use. Around 80 tags are at the presses and around 40 are in the warehouse. In addition to these products, the company expects a great deal more to be integrated into the process.

The same tags are used for some products. The best example of this are the company’s 3,000 inks that are managed on a single day of storage. It is possible to track them as the name of the product is also read along with the batch number.

Use of commercially available smartphones

Schur Pack Germany currently uses five Samsung S6 with Qi charging technology for warehouse management and batch tracking. One at each press, one in the warehouse and one in the department managers office. In future, a mobile phone will be stationed at each storage location.

Michael Verch, head of printing at Schur Pack Germany, says, “€300 per phone is cheaper than any barcode scanner.” He aims to purchase a simple Tablet PC for around €200 to have a permanent overview of inventory with all live data available at his desk.

Automated information

The advantages of the ProductionApp can clearly be seen in the inventory statistics. The manufacturer’s eMail address for each product can be stored by Schur Pack Germany. When a minimum stock level is reached, not only does the central purchasing department receive the information, but the supplier can also receive advance information on what needs to be delivered in the near future.

Pre- and post-tracking of consumables

The shelf life and usability of each article can be determined. Automatic pre- and post-batch tracking is also possible. Its more than just a simple assignment of the consumables used for the respective print jobs.

Especially when printing food packaging, the ProductionApp allows exact information on the inks, coatings, printing aids and other consumables used to be retrieved at the touch of a button. This provides reassurance for manufacturers and retailers as well as for consumers.

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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