There is only one word to describe Franklin Web’s plant, ‘enormous!’ The Australian company is spread across 100,000 square metres of factory space in Sunshine, Victoria, made up of six buildings, covering a site of some 40 acres. But back in 1935 when Len Taylor opened his print shop in Franklin Street, Sunshine, it wasn’t that way.
Taylor started his company in a business climate that was still feeling the pain of the Great Depression. Through hard work and a dedication to quality and service, Franklin Web attracted and retained customers, and one of his sons, Phillip undertook a lithographic printing apprenticeship to become the right-hand-man of the business.
But it was in 1980 that business really kicked off with the installation of a Toshiba 16pp web press, and today, Franklin Web is one of the major suppliers of catalogues to Australian retailers, and a huge percentage of its production makes up the 8 billion catalogues that are distributed every year to Australian letterboxes.
The company has continued to grow and now has some of the most impressive presses in the country. “As a printer, we’re constantly looking at ways to optimise performance on our presses,” said Taylor. “We aim for 80% utilisation at 80% of top speed, and to achieve that we need to prevent ink build-up on the guards, which really affects uptime.”
Another major problem on the presses was the formation of ink droplets, which at running speeds of 15 m/sec can cause the web to break. With four printing units running 24/7 this can involve substantial downtime. On analysis, Franklin Web found that 50 % of its stoppages were due to ink droplets and also took the initiative of investing in a second set of guards that are changed every week.
The whole project began to take shape when Franklin Web’s Business Service Manager, Bill Van Den Dungen, contacted Flexo Wash’s Australasian agent Ruvan Weereratne of Jet Technologies. He explained: “Flexo Wash has been in press cleaning equipment since 1991 and manufactures a variety of models for anilox rolls, cylinders, sleeves, and ink trays.” Knowing that the company’s wide-web products could be customised to fit all parts from different press manufacturers, he invited Flexo Wash’s Area Sales Manager, Mette Laursen, to visit the customer.
“While we make a range of different sizes, we felt Franklin required a larger than normal unit to allow it to handle any extra washing of parts that may be required in the future. After measuring the area and the number of guards on presses, we devised the right unit to suit Franklin’s needs,” she explained. The washing unit allows Franklin between 8-10 washes before having to change the exhausted wash fluid. It cleans finger guards and all the other parts that Franklin was previously cleaning by hand, in the preventive maintenance programme.
The Flexo Wash technology now automates the cleaning process and delivers substantial savings. “Before we installed the Flexo Wash we were manually cleaning the guards and trays fitted on every machine during a routine shutdown. After investigation, we found the operators then had no real time to spend setting the rollers in the roller train, which is what really was required of them,” explained Van Den Dungen
Jet Technologies has enjoyed a long-term relationship with Franklin Web, and prides itself on taking the time to develop associations with all of its customers. “Over the years we have come to know the Franklin business well, and they have trusted our judgement with regard to the size of washer required,” said Weereratne.
Concluding for Franklin Web, Phillip Taylor commented: “The unit has made a terrific difference to the cleaning regime and had achieved great results. We work in an exciting and dynamic market, and even after 37 years I still get a buzz out of seeing catalogues streaming off the presses and being despatched all over Australia.”