Australian made web inspection system ready to roll out

Australian printers have been buying web inspection systems from overseas for years, simply because there was no other option. Its fine when things go well, but when they get problems the printer is then often waiting weeks for service or parts, during which time they can't run the machine efficiently. Now Australian printers have another option: they can buy an Australian web inspection system, manufactured and supported in Australia. Our products are as good as any other product in the world and you can get one week delivery on a new system and next day on any spares. Even when buying a new print machine from overseas, printers should seriously consider buying without the inspection system and fitting a new KDS Visi-tech system to the machine here in Australia. It just makes sense.

If Kingston Data Systems’ Mike Young has his way, the days of Australian converters buying overseas print inspection systems, will be a thing of the past, now his company has started manufacturing them here in Australia. Mike hails from the same Welsh town that Tom Jones comes from, but when he spoke to “Labels Plus” I'm glad to say he didn’t break into singing “Delilah”! These days however, Mike is a fully converted Aussie citizen and lives with his family in Melbourne where he runs Kingston Data Systems.

Mike’s been involved in designing and manufacturing equipment for the printing industry since he was in his 20's. “I am a Chartered Electronics Engineer” said Mike, “and I worked in various jobs before setting up my own electronic design consultancy business back in 1996. We designed various products under contract, but also by chance got involved in the printing industry. One day I was approached by the Director of a printing supplies company who suggested that we should consider designing a simple web inspection system. I had a look at what was available on the market at that time and thought, yeah, we can do that, and that's how we got into web inspection.”

In 2001 Mike started up a new company called Visi-tech Systems Limited, specifically to manufacture and sell the new inspection system to the printing industry, and over the following years developed a global customer base selling near on 2000 products with a large market share in India and South East Asia. “We grew to become the number one brand in India with many OEMs choosing Visi-tech products because they were robust enough to last in the harsh Indian industrial environment”, said Mike.

Despite, having a successful business in the UK, Mike and his family moved to Australia in 2009. “It had been on the cards for years” said Mike. “We had travelled to Australia a number of times in the past and just adored the country and the lifestyle. Everywhere we travelled in Australia we loved, but eventually we decided to settle in Melbourne”.

After moving to Melbourne Mike set up a new Australian Company called Kingston Data Systems,
the primary aim of which was to continue development of a print machine monitoring system, that he had started while still in the UK. For the next few years he worked on the new business but also made frequent trips back to the UK to over see management at Visi-tech. “It was a tough time”, said Mike. “Trying to run a business half way around the world was exhausting. Meetings running into the early hours of the morning were common, because of the time difference between Melbourne and the UK.”

In 2013 the decision was finally made to move the manufacturing of Visi-tech products to Melbourne where the inspection systems are now manufactured by Kingston Data Systems under the brand name of KDS Visi-tech. 

“Australian printers have been buying these type of systems from overseas for years”, said Mike. “simply because there was no other option. Its fine when things go well, but when they get problems the printer is then often waiting weeks for service or parts, during which time they can't run the machine efficiently. Now Australian printers have another option: they can buy an Australian web inspection system, manufactured and supported in Australia. Our products are as good as any other product in the world and you can get one week delivery on a new camera and next day on any spares. Even when buying a new print machine from overseas, printers should seriously consider buying without the inspection system and fitting a new KDS Visi-tech system to the machine here in Australia. It just makes sense.”

Apart from manufacturing the Visi-tech line of inspection products Kingston Data Systems have also been busy continuing the development of their machine monitoring system named Quantum. Quantum, which Mike tells me means “amount” or “smallest divisible quantity”, describes aptly what the product is about. I asked Mike to briefly explain more.

“The Quantum product essentially monitors every metre of material usage and every second of activity that's going on with a printing machine. A data collection terminal is installed directly onto the print machine and connects up to a sensor. It effectively makes the machine a network device that you can view from a remote PC in real time but it also uploads tons of invaluable information about the machines productivity. The system records how much waste is being produced and also every single activity that caused this waste. It does the same for downtime, recording and categorising all the reasons for lost productivity. It then just takes a switched on manager to look at the reports and optimise the production operation.”

“I'm absolutely convinced that this type of equipment is going to become common place on printing machines all over the developed world,” Mike said. “You've just got to look at the costs associated with manufacturing, especially here in Australia. With a typical narrow web label machine being costed at A$250 to A$350 per hour, you only need to save 15 minutes of time per shift, over two shifts per day, over 240 working days a year and you've just saved yourself A$36,000!”

“These are not pie in the sky figures. We actually started this project back when I was still in the UK and worked with a couple of label companies to get their input on the design. We rolled it out over seven machines in the one company and 5 machines in the other. The results were amazing with the one company quoting a one year saving of GBP250,000 or the equivalent of half a million Aussie dollars on 7 machines. Its simply a matter of being able to measure accurately and then its down to education.”

Kingston Data Systems have recently appointed Aldus Engineering as Australian distributor for the KDS