Excellence in paper processing: A case study of Meteksan Digital
February 08, 2017 | By Naresh Khanna
One of the good things about the Hunkeler Innovationdays, held every two years in Lucerne, is that it doubles up as a meeting place for some of the most interesting and heavy-duty users of digital printing from around the world. In the spheres and segments that they have carved out, most of them are actually pioneers. The next edition of the Hunkeler Innovationdays is scheduled between 20 and 23 February 2017.
We met Alper Çifçi, digital printing group manager of Meteksan Digital, at the Hunkeler Innovationdays in February 2015 to get an insight into the Turkish company that has been in the field of digital printing with over three decades’ experience in the education sector. Meteksan’s use of technology shows how an entire country-wide school examination system can be administered with great efficiency and absolute integrity.
Founded in 1969, Meteksan operates in Ankara and Eskisehir where the company works with disposal technology from Hunkeler Systeme AG. Meteksan put all four systems into operation between 2011 and 2016. While at Eskisehir, Meteksan does jobbing, printing and produces brochures and booklets, the exam papers are produced only at the Ankara location. Today, Meteksan ranks among the major suppliers of an open and interactive system of teaching and testing 10 million students across Turkey.
Each printed examination answer sheet is totally personalized and includes information about the student as well as a photo. Every page of every booklet is checked by the Hunkeler tracking system. The 40-million examination booklets containing 600 million A4 pages are shrink-wrapped, labelled, checked using barcodes and put into patented boxes for shipment to 100,000 classrooms across the country using GPS-secured trucks. To ensure the integrity and security of the entire closed loop network, all the examination classrooms have a wall clock with a built-in camera.
Meteksan builds its production of educational materials and secure examinations around digital inkjet printing from Canon and with inspection, tracking and paper finishing technology from Hunkeler. In its totally secure plant, it runs three lines of web-fed digital presses alongside two lines of integrated scanning and finishing modules that generally output folded and bound examination booklets. The Canon Océ CS3500 Twin System, the Canon Océ JetStream2200 and a Canon Océ CS3700 Twin System are part of inline configurations that contain Hunkeler infeeds, web inspection and tracking systems, buffers, cutter and drum collators from Hunkeler, folders from Heidelberg and an IBIS Smart-Binder.
Takeout: Meteksan’s use of technology shows how an entire country-wide school examination system can be administered with great efficiency and absolute integrity. Meteksan is a pioneer in the field of digital printing with more than 35 years of expertise in the domain of educational printing in Turkey.
However, the flexibility and dynamism of the workflows comes from the two Hunkeler offline or near-line finishing configurations that can accept printed reels from the print engines with inline RW6 rewinders. One of these lines has Hunkeler modules for web drying, cutting, with drum collating and integrated gluing also from Hunkeler and a Heidelberg Stahfolder that is used mostly to produce glued examination brochures and booklets.
The second is a Hunkeler Variweb finishing line with double-sided gluing, high-frequency drying, a second gluing module, fan folding and die-cutting modules from Hunkeler. The extremely intricate, flexible and secure combination of end products from this line can be integrated with a choice of labels, security labels or cards.
Software, automation and collaboration
The key to success in high-volume digital printing lies in finding a communication challenge with a significant personalization and security component, and then creatively addressing it with a combination of software and inline automation. To take on such a challenge profitably, it helps greatly to collaborate with specialists and Meteksan’s collaboration with publisher Teknolist, a leader in the domain of educational printing and software, has been integral to their mutual success.
Both companies take smart publishing to the next level by offering tailored educational material and secure examinations printed for classrooms using software and cloud-based solutions. Each printed document is enabled by a software-driven workflow that intelligently puts together components contained in a database as well as PDF elements.
The imposition, assembly, finishing and logistics of each personalized educational material or examination booklet is enabled by the machine readable printed marks on each page and the application of security features to the finished product. “Meteksan’s challenge in achieving this integration and dynamic flexibility was to find a solution which would handle a wide variety of data and formats automatically, and fit within our business model from ordering to delivery,” says Çifçi.
Altogether Meteksan handles 12 petabytes of data each year. After personalization and formatting, the print operation is driven by Advanced Function Files (AFP) that are compact and fast to RIP. The front-end software is able to talk to the Hunkeler WI6 Web Inspection System and Tracking System that validates every page and assigns the appropriate finishing steps for it to the collating, binding and insertion modules. Çifçi says that for avoiding errors, it is essential to have complete inline control systems. He describes Hunkeler’s control system and software for tracking as robust. “It’s binary, precise, reliable and straightforward. Considering the company’s annual output of 600 million A4 pages, we have 6 errors per billion pages thanks to the tracking system,” he says.
Çifçi adds that the entire operation has to be reliable. “It’s mission critical; we print within one day of receiving an order and we deliver within three days. Apart from the continuous investment in software and hardware, the company’s in-house technicians are trained by Océ and Hunkeler. Our technicians in Ankara, Oce’s technicians in Poing and Hunkeler’s in Wiko are able to communicate and work together seamlessly as if under one roof,” he says.
Thus, the production of digitally printed personalized books and secure exams for schools, classrooms or subjects is highly collaborative but completely automated and secure between Meteksan and Teknolist; and by eliminating communication errors it becomes efficient.
Educational assessment and evaluation of student progress are carried out by web-based tools and the plan is to extend these tools to analyze both achievement and deficiencies. These in turn can be used to automatically select and develop customized content for both students and teachers.
Takeout: The production of digitally printed personalized books and secure exams for schools, classrooms or subjects is highly collaborative but completely automated and secure between Meteksan and Teknolist; and by eliminating communication errors it becomes efficient.
Meteksan is ready to provide digital printed solutions for ever more innovative and smart publishing products and secure examination solutions using its print, finishing and logistics on-demand workflow. Çifçi says, “Meteksan, together with partners like Teknolist, Hunkeler and Canon, has the right tools to comfortably enter a new era of our educational market with the confidence that we have the ability to succeed, and deliver a new and exciting service to our own customers in the future.”
Meteksan’s bit on energy conservation
All the four systems at Meteksan operate on negative pressure, with the fans placed at the end of each system. The created suction transports almost all the paper dust to the filter; the production area remains
largely clean. The cleaned air is returned to the production area and heats the rooms in the winter months.
Thanks to an energy saving system (ESS) operating in the four systems, Meteksan has reduced their energy consumption. Via ESS, each machine connected to the disposal system can be controlled individually. Thus, depending on how heavily the systems are in use, Meteksan saves up to 50 per cent in electrical energy.