Agfa has introduced a new plate-loading robot that automates, streamlines and speeds up a printer’s prepress operations, while boosting productivity and reducing overall costs. Agfa’s new Robotic Plate Loader frees pre-press staff from heavy manual, repetitive tasks such as plate loading cassettes of auto-loaders, or fixing pallets on the base frame of skid loaders.
“Heatset printers usually have multiple presses with different sizes, and therefore multiple CTP lines,” said Iris Bogunovic, Product Manager for Plate & CTP Systems at Agfa. “Linked to that come so-called COMBO loading configurations, each consisting of a pallet loader and auto-loader. The Robotic Plate Loader replaces both configurations, reducing footprint by up to 30%, and making pre-press operations more efficient and productive.”
In a first phase, Agfa is offering its plate-loading robot to printing companies using its Avalon VLF Platesetters. The robot is custom-built according to a printer’s specific needs and can simultaneously feed multiple plate-production lines with a picking speed of up to 80 printing plates per hour, regardless of plate size. The set-up is especially convenient for printers that need to handle multiple (up to five) plate sizes. For maximum ease of use, the plate-loading robot is fully integrated with Agfa’s Apogee workflow software.
Leading Scandinavian printed marketing solutions provider Stibo Complete was an early adopter of the new technology. As the company’s strategy for the future includes a whole range of investments, as well as acquisitions of companies, one of the conditions for its success is the configuration of its print business to handle much more output with less resources. The investment in Agfa’s new state-of-the-art Plate-Loading robot supports these initiatives. “Automation is important in the strategy of any growing and forward-looking company,” said Svend Erik Grue Nielsen, Operations and Development Manager at Stibo Complete. “Agfa’s Robotic Plate Loader gives us a competitive edge as it improves our productivity, reduces costs, minimizes mistakes, and optimizes working conditions for our employees. Our plate-loading robot saves employees from approximately 230 tons of heavy lifting per year.”