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Prevention and quality feedback system support quality control – interview with Auraprint’s Quality Coordinator Hanne Palomäki

In a printing house, a label goes through several different stages of work, the accuracy and quality of which is assessed in many ways in-house. Auraprint's Quality Coordinator Hanne Palomäki says camera technology is a great help in quality control and inspection.

Camera technology is used to monitor the quality and accuracy of the printed product. The camera technology compares the customer's approved proof with the label made at the printing house and detects any discrepancies.

“Camera technology is used on the press and in post-production. The technology is accurate and gives us the security of knowing that the label we print is the same one that the customer has approved," says Palomäki.

The presses also use wear tests to ensure, for example, the durability of the label surface and the permanence of the printing ink. Although the majority of checks are carried out using machine technology, the human eye is still relied upon to verify the accuracy of colours.

“The printed colour model is compared with the actual label model. Printers have really good colour vision, and their eye for colour makes all the difference. Comparing colours could even be called an art form," tells Palomäki.

The technology can detect the thickness, depth and darkness of colour. Although the data is checked by machine, last-minute colour comparisons are still made by the human eye.

“The eye is ultimately the best tool for comparing colours. Consumers in shops also look at products with the human eye, so it's important to see what the colour will look like," Palomäki mentions.

Auraprint is currently working on a new ISO 22000 food safety standard project. The system should be officially audited by the end of this year.

“Our biggest customers are food manufacturers or packers, so food safety is important to us. With this certification, we ensure that hygiene is in order in our factory. For example, we don't wear outdoor shoes inside, we use hair nets and we are careful about handling allergens," says Palomäki.

No other label printer in Finland is known to have ISO 22000 certification, so the project is otherwise significant for Auraprint. The company also uses the HACCP food safety self-monitoring system, which is designed to identify hazards.

“In HACCP, we assess the severity of the hazard and the means of control. We have had an HACCP team in place since 2015. HACCP and ISO 22000 go hand in hand in achieving the best result," says Palomäki.

Although quality control is strict, mistakes can sometimes happen. When they do, Auraprint has a quality feedback system that is used both to detect errors and to prevent future ones.

“If we notice a fault before sending the product to the customer, we make a near-miss report. We find out what has happened and why, go through the matter with the person responsible and calculate the costs. We take corrective action to ensure that the product is delivered to the customer in the correct form," says Palomäki.

Situation reports are reviewed by the whole company four times a year to prevent similar situations from happening again. The cause of the error is quickly identified so that it can be corrected and the materials can be reprinted.

The quality feedback system works in much the same way if a defective product ends up with the customer. The first step is to check whether there is a material defect, whether there is a problem with the subject matter or whether the error occurred in production.

“I check the response patterns and counter-samples of the material and we clarify the course of the event. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the cause of an error. Sometimes we’ve even had to take a sauna with the labels to find out whether the reason for a quality defect is, for example, excessive humidity," laughs Palomäki.

Auraprint's quality control is so precise that some of the errors detected at the factory would not be a problem for the customer. Mistakes are also prevented by carefully reviewing the material with the client.

“The client may send us requests, which we realise will be challenging to implement. It’s then good to communicate with them and discuss together whether the material could be changed to make it more printable," Palomäki says.


Interview with Auraprint’s prepress supervisor Elisa Toivio Prevention and quality feedback system support quality control – interview with Auraprint’s Quality Coordinator Hanne Palomäki Auraprint continues its journey towards more responsible business also in 2023 A Look into Today and the Future – Interview of Ilkka Ylipoti in the Pakkaus packaging magazine