Web-inspection system supports label operation

A TruColor Video web-inspection system is bringing multiple benefits, including higher quality, to Label America.

According to one of the cornerstones of its mission statement, Label America Inc. vows to "pursue continuous improvement in providing technically superior products of the highest quality." The Stone Mountain, GA-based label converter does that, in part, by utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and technologies.

As a prime example, Label America purchased its first TruColor Video 2000 web-inspection system three years ago. The converter has since added three more TruColor units, including two 24-Bit Gems and the new Mini Gem system. The inspection systems help improve performance on Label America's narrow web flexo-graphic presses from Webtron, Mark Andy, and Aquaflex, which print up to eight colors in widths to 18 in.

Label America was one of the first converters to install the TruColor Mini Gem system, introduced last fall at the Converting Machinery/Materials Exposition (CMM).

"It's a good system, it's affordable, and TruColor offers excellent support," reports Joe Luranc, VP of manufacturing for Label America, who adds that TruColor headquarters is located just one hour from Label America's suburban Atlanta, GA, facility. "We've had a good relationship from the beginning."

According to Luranc, the TruColor systems themselves have helped to reduce waste, speed set-up times, and improve product quality. "It really makes a difference. Everyone debated in the beginning whether it was worth it or not, and it's turned out to be a tremendous advantage.

Made for Narrow Web

The new TruColor 24-Bit Mini Gem video web-inspection system was designed specifically for narrow web presses that have limited mounting space available. It has a smaller camera and a more compact size that gives companies greater options in mounting and using the system, Luranc points out.

The camera housing on the Mini Gem has a small "footprint," or mounting area, that measures just 4 x 4 x 12.4 in. It includes manual lens control with up to 20x magnification, a 14-in., noninterlaced image monitor, and a high quality CCD camera.

The Mini Gem is packaged with an intuitive icon control unit, manual camera, and lens control for ease of operation, Luranc says, and a small electronics housing (2.5 x 14 x 7.5 in.) for easy installation and portability.

In addition to the TruColor video web-inspection systems, Label America recently brought every aspect of label production in-house with the installation of a 3M Matchprint color proofing system, which works in conjunction with the company's four Macintosh design stations and an Agfa imagesetter.

To improve efficiency even further, the company also has developed a bar code-based inventory control system that has reduced the time it takes to complete bimonthly inventory inspections from 12 hours to just 4.

Award-Winning History

With its emphasis on utilizing the latest equipment to produce the highest quality product, Label America has garnered a number of honors during its 15-year history:

* In 1985, the company's fifth year in business and first year of eligibility for the award, Label America was recognized by INC. magazine in the prestigious INC. 500 as the 255th fastest growing company in America.

* Since 1987 the company has received five international awards for product quality and innovations.

* In 1990 Label America was honored at a White House ceremony by President George Bush as the Georgia Small Business of the Year and was also chosen by industry association peers as the "Converter of the Year."

* By 1991 Label America's growth earned it a place as one of the Top 100 companies in the label industry - the youngest company to earn that distinction. One year later, Label America was recognized on that same list as the country's second fastest growing label company.

* In 1994 Label America earned the prestigious "Best Managed Company" award from the Tag & Label Mfrs. Inst.

* This year the company earned a "Partners in Education" gold award from the DeKalb County School District for its support of school arts programs.

Serious About Service

With annual sales now nearing $17 million, Label America operates in two buildings in Stone Mountain, covering 46,000 sq ft. Luranc credits the company's overall success to a dedicated workforce of nearly 100 employees with keen problem-solving capabilities. The company meets its goal of a two-week turnaround "consistently 94%" of the time, says Luranc, with many jobs delivered much sooner. "We take delivery time very seriously. We're there to please the customer."

Those customers come from a variety of market niches, from food and beverages to hardware and hotels. Label America specializes in four-color process and data processing labels printed on a variety of papers, films, and specialty substrates and maintains an on-site raw materials inventory of between $300,000 and $400,000.

Primary material suppliers are Fasson, S.D. Warren, FLEXcon, and Raflatac. All inks are water-based (Label America was one of the first in this technology) and are supplied by Water Ink Technologies. Dies are from Rotometrics.

Luranc explains the importance of the company's early concentration on data processing labels and its later development of laser and thermal transfer labels. "I think we jumped into laser at a very good time. We were at the forefront of that technology, and it's worked out well for us."

Overall capabilities include not only four-color process labels and stock and custom laser and thermal transfer labels but also tags, scratch-off, and tamper-proof labels, static cling labels, coupon and piggyback labels, wash-away labels, and instantly redeemable coupons.

Opportunity and Effort

This summer's Olympic Games were a golden opportunity for the Label America "family" of employees and customers to share in the company's success. Based in a suburb of the host city, the company initiated a multifaceted marketing campaign that involved events and promotions designed to not only reward valued customers but Label America's valued employees as well.

"An important ingredient in our success is that even though we've grown so much we still maintain a family-like atmosphere at the company," says Luranc.

However, being in the Atlanta area wasn't all fun when the games were taking place: Label America had to make an extra effort to plan their customers' label needs around the Olympic dates, since many of the events were held in Stone Mountain, and daytime shipping was virtually impossible.

Thanks to its major investments in technology, however, the company was able to once again come out a winner.

Supplier Information:

TruColor Video Systems, LaGrange, GA; ph: 706/845-6970; fax: 706/845-6972.

Webtron Corp., Fort Lauderdale, FL; ph: 305/971-1380; fax: 305/979-1676.

Mark Andy Inc., Chesterfield, MO; ph: 314/532-4433; fax: 314/532-1510.

Aquaflex Systemes Inc., Que., Canada; ph: 514/449-0494; fax: 514/449-0492.

3M, St. Paul, MN; ph: 800/223-7427; fax: 612/737-5568.

Afga, Ridgefield Park, NJ; ph: 201/440-2500; fax: 210/342-4742.

Fasson, an Avery Dennison co., Painesville, OH; ph: 216/354-7900; fax: 216/354-7959.

S.D. Warren Co., sub. of Scott Paper Co., Boston, MA; ph: 617/423-7300; fax: 617/423/5494.

FLEXcon, Spencer, MA; ph: 508/885-8200; fax: 508/885-8400.

Raflatec, Scarborough, England; ph: 44(0)1723-583661; fax: 44(0) 1723-584896.

Water Ink Technologies Inc., Iron Station, NC; ph: 704/735-8282; fax: 704/732-6333.

The Rotometrics Group, Eureka, MO; ph: 314/587-3600; fax: 314/587-3701.


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