The 50th anniversary of the Metro Production Conference (formerly named Metro Users Group) will take place May 31- June 3 at the Saddlebrook Conference Center, in Wesley Chapel, Florida.
The conference will focus on streamlining production. “With rising newsprint cost, most production operations are looking for solutions to save money, increase efficiencies and streamline operations, and at the same time production facilities are looking to increase volume at the existing printing operations,” said John Gallagher, director of aftermarket business development for Goss. News & Tech asked Gallagher and Ian Buckley, general manager, Goss UK, about potential solutions that MPC attendees can expect at the upcoming conference.
N&T: With a growth in regional production sites, is there any advice you can give to operations as to what they should know before they start that approach?
Gallagher: A regional operation is much closer to being or may well be a commercial print operation. Therefore, efficiency and equipment utilization are paramount. Ultimately, the operation has to be profitable. So decisions on equipment, manning and other technical parts of the operation need to be driven by the market. What do our customers need and when? Do we need to work with publishers to tweak deadlines or page formats to really get to a sustainably profitable business model?
N&T:What equipment or procedures should be in place before bringing commercial work into the operation?
Buckley: As a general rule, commercial work requires tighter print quality tolerances and also some form of quality measurement throughout the run. We would suggest that any customer looking to bring in commercial work would first implement the following procedures or practices:
•Pre-set and forget technology
•Refinement of press operating procedures to manage waste copies and print quality
•Use of readily available “new press“ technology to minimise press start-up waste and maintain good quality through the run
•Establishment of an in-house quality standard
•Establishment of a method of checking and recording quality periodically through the press run, i.e. every 5,000 copies
N&T: What are the first signs of potential trouble on a press?
Buckley: Typically, the first key indicators to watch for would be:
•An increase in waste copies
•A reduction in net output
•An increase in returned copies or advertiserand customer complaints.
•Increased reelstand paste failures
By monitoring these matrixes on a weekly or monthly basis, press room management should be able to note any dramatic changes, or, more likely, a gradual increase or decrease in any of these data sets.
N&T:Whatequipmentshouldbechanged on adaily,monthly oryearly basis?
Buckley: In terms of maintaining low press waste and good print quality, the press calibration program is the most important process. This includes items that need to be checked on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.This is the only way to maintain a uniform response to the pre-set data. We also recommend monitoring “net output affecters” such as folder performance, reelstand performance, etc., which can all affect production speeds of the press.
N&T: What is the most cost-effective way to increase color on my press?
Buckley:Traditionally the only way to increase color has been to add more units, either by adding 4-color towers onto the press, or converting 2-high or mono units into 4-color units.
A further method to consider is collect running. This could mean a change of newspaper format and production times, however this is an easy way to double the color capacity of your press.
N&T: What is the most important maintenance procedure all press-room should be using?
Buckley: Typically, we see that press rooms are generally good on preventative maintenance for what we class as “nuts and bolts items,” i.e. check the clutch every month, grease the line shaft every two weeks, etc.
We have noticed that one area that can often be missed is maintenance to ensure the correct calibration of the press. Essentially, the pre-setting of the press utilises a significant amount of digital data, and if the press is incorrectly calibrated, the response of the press to that data will not be uniform, i.e. some units will start up in a low-waste condition and other units, which are out of calibration, will start up in a high-waste condition.
The press calibration process is relatively simple. Although it usually needs significant effort for initial calibration, subsequent calibration is usually quick and easy, provided that it is carried out at regular intervals.
N&T: What is a suggestion for
optimization on my press?
Buckley: All press operations have the potential for improvement. In the last few years we have learned how to take new press processes and technologies, developed over many years, and apply them to existing presses that have already given many years good service. Typically, these changes would include press calibration, new processes, enhancements such as camera systems, pre-setting systems, press management systems, closed-loop color control, reelstand upgrades and control system upgrades that add new functionality.
N&T: With newsprint cost on the rise, what press options are available to save money?
Buckley: Several options and activities are focused on reducing waste copies. These include the pre-set & forget philosophy and technology, which presets the whole press to its correct settings before startup, coupled with automation that optimises the copy quality quickly once the press has started. We also use the same technology to ensure that good quality copies are maintained throughout the press run. This focus would typically also involve new procedures for the press operators, together with retraining to break long-held practices.
There are also means of getting much more out of your existing equipment. These include maintenance and press setup best practice, adding technology upgrades, or reformatting the paper to get more out of what you have. For example, 10-inch wide paging on a single width press can give 50 percent more paging and color.
N&T: What do I have to consider if I change the weights of my newsprint?
Buckley:Asmentionedabove,running your production on lower grammage paper is not without its challenges, and typically requires a renewed focus on press settings, web tension control, and ink and damp coverage. Upgrading reelstands to the latest technology to give more precise adjustments is one way of doing this.