Right quality controls key to bottom line in print
Special to News & Tech
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.