Tuesday, 04 Jun 2019 10:21 GMT

Pressroom Efficiency

Maintaining a smoothly-run operation is imperative in the print industry. Genevieve Lewis researches how printers can make sure their pressroom is running efficiently and effectively

Smoothly does it

The print industry is a well-oiled machine. Running smoothly is key to retaining customers, maintaining quality and running a successful business.

Preserving pressroom efficiency can be down to a number of elements, from software, through to servicing machinery and having spare parts on hand for when something unfortunately goes wrong.

Obviously, one of the most key elements involved in the efficiency of a pressroom is the software. There are numerous options available – from third party suppliers or from the manufacturer of the machines that you use.

One such manufacturer is Heidelberg. Matt Rockley, who is the marketing manager for presses at Heidelberg UK, says that there is no other way for making sure that your pressroom is running at an optimum than with software.

There is no substitute for monitoring and measuring your production if you want to maximise pressroom efficiency

“There is no substitute for monitoring and measuring your production if you want to maximise pressroom efficiency,” explains Rockley. “Using Heidelberg’s Prinect Analyze Point, printers can then get the key performance indicators (KPIs) from the machine and look at what is and isn’t working which can be down to process issues – papers, boards and consumables being in place at the right place through to effective scheduling – or operator issues – which can vary from training issues to slow shift changes.

Software, as mentioned by Heidelberg’s Rockley and Manwaring from Onyx, is key to productivity

“With automated data capture management, one can look at performance from machine to machine, operator to operator or substrate to substrate or even job to job.”

Rockley adds: “Heidelberg has gathered an enormous amount of machine data from printers around the globe and its Big Data is helping it give customers really great information and advice. We even run training courses to help customers increase throughput – always without compromise to quality. Efficiencies can be achieved by better scheduling of jobs, standardisation of materials, using the right consumables and so on.

“Management must challenge accepted working practices to ensure that ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ culture is replaced by a ‘how can we do it better’ attitude.”

On the case

Heidelberg has also highlighted a recent case study, in which Leicester-based Streamline Press invested in a Push to Stop (autonomous printing) Speedmaster XL 106-5+L. An operator at the company asked production director Alan Squire why there was a prediction of a 20% increase in throughput when the two presses going out had a combined speed of 31,500 sheets/h while the new press delivered 18,000 sheets/h.

Push to Stop technology, or autonomous printing, is just one way to maximise efficiency

The key here to the Streamline Press was the shorter makereadies, better scheduling and improved logistics. After a year of having the new press, Heidelberg says that the results have proven this point.

Squire comments: “Heidelberg came in ahead of the installation and presented not only to the press operators but also to the prepress and customer service teams. They went through how and why an autonomous press would work, what it could do and how we could make it operate to maximum efficiency. It meant everyone started with confidence.”

O Factoid: The etymology of ‘efficiency’ comes from the Latin efficientia which means ‘the power to accomplish something’. O

Obviously, installing a press could disrupt an operation, meaning that investing is the opposite of maximising pressroom efficiency. However, once in place, a new machine could make a major impact on productivity. Squire says that it was a learning curve installing a new Heidelberg press, but making sure that similar jobs using comparable substrates and formats were batched together. Previously, if a customer was visiting to pass a job, everything would stop until they arrived, therefore affecting the efficiency. Now, Streamline can prepare the press prior to them arriving. Also, if a plate needed remaking, the press would stand until it arrived, but now the operators just move to another job and be in production by the time the replacement plate arrives.

Streamline Press recently invested in the Speedmaster XL 106-5+L with Push to Stop technology

Squire also has advice to keep your pressroom running efficiently. He says: “The key is in the planning. The press forces you to look at your processes throughout and forces change to maximise performance. We were worried that we could lose flexibility by going down to one press but that hasn’t been the case at all. When analysing figures from the XI 106 against the two presses combined previously both the makereadies and good sheet production are up every month.”


Elsewhere, Onyx Graphics details the ways in which to keep your pressroom running smoothly but highlighting so in wide-format. Bryan Manwaring, director of product marketing for the software specialists, explains: “In wide-format inkjet printing, we see print-service-providers under increasing pressure to print faster and more accurately in less time in order to remain competitive.

Utah-based Onyx Graphics can be seen at various trade shows globally

“Onyx Graphics understands the need to remain competitive and builds software with automated workflows in mind. Investing in a solution, then, that takes the pain of spending excess time preparing, editing and producing reprints are all ways in which Onyx workflows can help improve productivity and profitability.”

Manwaring continues: “Built into Onyx is the ability to automate every aspect of the print production process, from recognising design file cut paths and barcoding to provide print-and-cut workflows, to adding finishing marks or tiles or repeats print jobs at the click of button using QuickSets.”

But how does this maintain pressroom efficiency? Manwaring says that software that looks at cost and waste, which helps with job decisions, will keep things running smoothly. Manwaring adds: “Onyx Thrive RIP and print workflow software offers unique automation tools through QuickSets which allows users to reduce manual errors, increase production efficiency and maximise available print time to meet tight deadlines.

Onyx Thrive is one of the software solutions that offers automation tools

“Not only this, but Onyx offers ColorCheck, a new kind of process control toolset to validate colour output accuracy, consistency and conformance to industry standards before printing, ensuring prints are right the first time which saves time and money from wasted ink and media on reprints. By utilising Onyx automation tools and ColorCheck, print-service-providers can achieve the very best output first time.”

Manwaring’s advice? “Print-service-providers looking for the next level of production efficiency may want to look at business intelligence tools,” he says. “While Onyx RIP and print workflow software provides unrivalled production workflow and automation, for example, it is Onyx Hub that adds a layer of data intelligence and reporting to really showcase print production efficiency.

“With Onyx Hub, print-service-providers can clearly see exactly how much a print job costs, how much ink and media waste there was and which jobs were reprinted in an intuitive dashboard to make better business decisions. If Onyx Thrive is the gold standard for workflow automation, Onyx Hub is the new standard for entire efficiency using actual data.”

It is obvious then, from the points highlighted here, that software and perhaps autonomous printing is just one way of maintaining pressroom efficiency. As discussed in the pages of Print Monthly previously, there are also other ways of upholding productivity. These include keeping the press clean, keeping up to date with maintenance and having spare parts to hand. Litho presses require vacuums, so air control is also of high importance. Stick to just some of the advice listed here, and your pressroom should run as smoothly as possible.