Schattdecor: Overhead scanner opens up digitization potential
Release plates, decor proposals and samples represent a central component of the sales and production processes at Schattdecor AG. If these are available digitally at all locations, this saves archiving costs, simplifies activities and promotes rapid exchange. For this task, Schattdecor uses overhead scanner that are commonly used in libraries and archives for digitizing cultural assets. Can this work?
Schattdecor AG, based in Thansau near Rosenheim, is the world market leader in printed decor paper, impregnated surfaces and finish foils for the wood-based materials and furniture industries. The high-quality surface decors can be found on furniture, flooring or in the interiors of caravans.
Release plates cause archiving costs and media discontinuity
Before production, the printed decorative paper is pressed onto a backing board. The release plate imitates the further processing of the décor paper at the customer’s site and thus also enables a correct, visual judgment. Up to now, all production releases were physically archived in the warehouse and a further sample was sent to the customer for approval.
In addition to the classic optical evaluation of the approval plates in a light box, the colorimetric values are also measured and digitally stored in a Certified Quality Approval Device (CQAD) according to DIN EN 14323.
“The previous workflow resulted in large space requirements in the warehouse, as well as associated archiving costs. In addition, there was a media discontinuity in the production process that we wanted to eliminate,” tells Martin Kronast, project engineer at Schattdecor AG.
Cameras are not convincing in digitization
The first approach was to capture the image with a digital camera. Several camera models and illuminations were tested, but without success. “The release plates are partially curved. In addition, there are dark surfaces and prints with special colors such as mother-of-pearl. All this can lead to reflections during image capture. And this is exactly what occurred in our tests,” explains Martin Kronast.
While searching for alternatives, the project team came across the company Zeutschel, the world market leader in overhead scanners. With these devices, the scan is performed from above. The originals remain open on the scanner table for this purpose. The special scanner illumination meets the D65 standard for daylight and avoids reflections on difficult originals. Overhead scanners are therefore the first choice for libraries and archives. Historical books and other valuable documents can be carefully digitalized there in very high quality.
Overhead scanner the best solution
However, this can be used not only in cultural environments, but also for industrial applications, as Martin Kronast and his team quickly discovered: “The two-month test installation of the 12002 Advanced model at our headquarters in Thansau confirmed our high expectations.”
The high quality of the digital images was convincing, as was the uncomplicated and efficient handling. “The thicknesses of the release plates vary in some cases. The automatic book rockers have proved themselves a handy feature here.”
Also important to Martin Kronast was Zeutschel’s worldwide dealer network, which can provide consistently high service & support quality across national borders.
Following the start-up of production operations in Thansau, installation in other European and non-European countries followed incrementally. A total of nine overhead scanners of the OS 12002 Advanced model are currently digitizing laboratory releases worldwide.
Workflows accelerated, costs saved
Scanning of the release plates takes place daily. The volume involved can be handled very well using the OS 12002 Advanced, to which the easy operation of the scanner and the OmniScan capture software also contribute.
The digital images are stored in a database. This is linked to the group-wide SAP system so that every location can access the images.
In addition, the digital images are also available to production at the click of a button. This proves to be a great advantage in practice. For follow-up orders, the shift foreman can view the electronic image of the release plate via quick access without having to go through the time-consuming process of retrieving the samples from the archive. This speeds up the entire workflow.
In addition, there are considerable cost savings: “Thanks to digitization, many of the previous storage spaces are no longer needed and new construction measures at the sites are now no longer necessary,” says Martin Kronast.
Synergy effects used
It quickly became clear to the project engineer and his team that the digitization project would bring important synergy effects: “In addition to release plates, we now scan also lab releases, decor proposals and samples.”
The laboratory releases are based on decor solutions printed and pressed for the first time and in small quantities. If the customer is satisfied with regard to appearance and color scheme, then the decor is added to the product portfolio. The final grouting sample is then scanned in as a “lab release” and digitally archived.
Samples are decors that the customer receives for viewing purposes. They are available in rolls or pressed onto a carrier plate. The latter also enter the digitization workflow.
The design, sales and development departments regularly work out new decor proposals in close coordination. These are printed and pressed by the laboratory for the first time. The scans of the decor proposals can then be easily and quickly shared and evaluated within the worldwide Schattdecor group.
Use of overhead scanner planned for paint samples
“Thanks to the Zeutschel scanners, we have been able to drive digitization in an important area of the company. It also opens up further digitization potential for us.”
Here, Martin Kronast is referring to the Schattdecor Group’s painting and impregnation sites. During varnishing, similar patterns are created as in decor printing. At the moment, these samples are still physically archived, but digitalization of the samples is already being considered, as Martin Kronast confirms: “Our site in Poland is already running initial tests, which are very promising.”
Schattdecor was founded in 1985 and currently trades as Schattdecor AG. The company develops high-quality surface decors for its customers in the wood-based materials and furniture industries. The company’s know-how is spread all over the world: It is, for example, in the surface finish of a shelf, that of a floor or in the interior of a caravan. Schattdecor AG’s decors can be found in airports, stores and leisure venues, in offices, homes and in public spaces. The company employs 3,000 people from 27 nations at 17 locations worldwide. The company’s headquarters are in Thansau, near Rosenheim. In 2021, Schattdecor AG generated record sales of 850 million euros.