Right qual­ity con­trols key to bot­tom line in print

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Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - Industry Insight -

FROM Vince Bal­istri­eri, Vice Pres­i­dent of Op­er­a­tions, QuadTech, Inc.

The news­pa­per in­dus­try has un­der­gone such pro­found changes in the last gen­er­a­tion that pub­lish­ers and print­ers of­ten feel they are, at worst, an en­dan­gered species, and at best, con­tin­u­ously play­ing catch-up. There are, how­ever, a num­ber of strate­gies that can make ma­jor con­tri­bu­tions to the bot­tom line.

One of the trends has been to move news­pa­per print­ing from in­di­vid­ual pub­lish­ers to con­tract print­ers. Fall­ing cir­cu­la­tions, shorter print runs, and the large in­vest­ment re­quired for new presses have been the driv­ers for the trans­fer. How­ever, this moves pro­duc­tion prob­lems; it doesn’t solve them. In­deed, con­tract print­ers may find they have been com­pounded.

With a need to han­dle large num­bers of short-runs, keep to bud­gets and ser­vice level agree­ments, main­tain sched­ules and co­or­di­nate timely dis­tri­bu­tion, con­tract print­ers need to en­sure print qual­ity and smooth run­ning pro­duc­tion lines. Many of them will also be print­ing ad­ver­tis­ing sup­ple­ments, in­serts and mag­a­zines to bun­dle with the news­pa­pers they print, which com­pounds the chal­lenges of a large num­ber of set-ups and the re­sul­tant make-ready waste.

Fo­cus­ing on key ar­eas

Re­duc­ing start-up times and waste are key ar­eas for ef­fi­ciency and cost sav­ings. Achiev­ing ac­cu­rate color and reg­is­ter are very of­ten the big­gest causes of time and ma­te­rial waste. In­creas­ing ink and pa­per prices can make these in­ef­fi­cien­cies even more ex­pen­sive.

Time spent achiev­ing ac­cu­rate color comes straight off the bot­tom line, and in­cor­rect or in­con­sis­tent color can re­sult in brand ad­ver­tis­ers de­mand­ing re­bates, or even can­celling ad­ver­tis­ing. Over-run­ning press sched­ules puts fur­ther pres­sure on print­ers and can dis­rupt care­fully syn­chro­nized lo­gis­tics, and vi­o­late terms of con­tracts, all of which are costly.

There are prac­ti­cal and af­ford­able so­lu­tions. While it’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to find and re­tain op­er­a­tors with the nec­es­sary skills, it is pos­si­ble to re­duce the im­pact on qual­ity and op­er­a­tional ef­fec­tive­ness. A well-judged com­bi­na­tion of skilled op­er­a­tors and au­to­mated sys­tems can make ma­jor sav­ings in pro­duc­tion time and im­prove over­all print qual­ity. Press con­trols and so­lu­tions that de­liver ac­cu­rate color quickly; achieve reg­is­ter with min­i­mal waste; man­age rib­bon con­trol and store set-up and con­fig­u­ra­tion data for rapid setup of re­peat jobs are avail­able and can be fit­ted to ex­ist­ing presses, re­gard­less of type or age. While the news­pa­per scene is chal­leng­ing, the right au­to­mated press, color, reg­is­ter and qual­ity con­trols can re­sult in ex­cep­tional ef­fi­ciency, dra­matic waste re­duc­tion, un­com­pro­mis­ing qual­ity and a bet­ter bot­tom line.

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