Item #: The Print Plant
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An Ardematic Automatic Mixing Station, connecting conveyor and Spraymation, Inc., programmed liquid dispensing system reduced color shop labor from 6 men per shift to 3 men per shift. With yearly labor costs near $18,000 per man, the annual savings (for 3 shift operation) approaches $162,000. One flat bed printing machine plus one combination (flat or rotary) printing machine have a combined production up to 200,000 yards per week. The average pattern has 12 to 14 screens with 100% coverage. To meet the production demand, 60 mixes must be prepared on each shift. The standardized mixing quantity is 100 liters, but may decrease to 50 liters at certain times. The Print Plant's President, Kelly Blanton, says they were able to improve their color shop operation and reduce labor costs because they have, "...a good team of people working together...with foresight". Each color shop shift has a supervisor and two men, one man for each printing machine. The man puts clear into the drum along the conveyor, activates the automatic mixing and washing sequence, checks the mix, takes the mix to the printing machine and checks the shading. Once the drum is brought to the mixing station by the conveyor, the entire operation is completely automatic. The start button is pressed. The mixer horizontally rotates 180 degrees from its washed position to the mixing pisition, then automatically from its washed position to the mixing position, then automatically lowers into the drum. The Reversible Homogenizer begins with the upward umbrella flow mixing followed by the downward vortex flow mix cycle and then another upward mix to assure complete dispersion with no deadspots or ingredients sticking to sidewalls. The mixer then rises out of the drum and rotates 180 degrees back to the "wash" station. In this position, the mixer is automatically lowered into the washing vessel. During the wash cycle, the homogenizer is automatically operated to flow washwater throughout the mixing head. As the mixer rises, it is subjected to multiple high velocity spray streams to assure total cleanliness. The mixer is then in its "ready" position for the next drum. The pneumatic sequences are time controlled and relayed to the master control panel through limit switches. The watertight main control panel includes: reversing starter, three mixing and one wash cycle timers, all sequence switches plus start and emergency stop buttons. At The Print Plant, Inc., the mixing cycle is two minutes or less and the mixers are cleaner...uniform throughout the drum...the side walls and bottom have been swept clean. According to Mr. Blanton, the Automatic Mixing System's success was due in part to the "...durability and reliability of the mixer..." and the reversibility which "...proved invaluable." Since the mixer washing sequence is also completely automatic, the man uses this time to check his mix, bring acceptable print pastes to the print machines, etc. Even after doing all these steps, the Ardematic Mix Station time savings is great enough to allow the two men on each shift to make the clear. By operating the Automatic Mixing Station in conjunction with the color dispensing system, The Print Plant, Inc., has eliminated all human errors from two critical functions; mixing and color dispensing. Kelly Blanton stated, "We never had a second because of mixing." Mr. Blanton has seen a reduction of people necessary, a reduction of labor, cleaner mixes, consistent mixing, shortened mixing time, substantially reduced screen print machine down time and the print pastes come to the print machine in much better condition. "All we have to do now is develop the cycle and go with it", is Mr. Blanton's conclusion.