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Drive down time lost to remakes

Apr 1, 2011 12:00 AM

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As I write this, I am in a large plant having coffee while I wait for a set of plates to be remade for a press test. It has been one hour. What good is it to have a high-speed, fast-makeready, state-of-the-art press when we waste so much time waiting for plates? At times, it truly seems that the term “Press Down” is not understood by prepress. Often, going to the next job/form is not a great option.

What can be done?

Many solutions come to mind, including some I have seen used:

  • Charge prepress for the time.
  • Make a remake plate “Priority #1” in the prepress department.
  • Every time the press has to wait for a plate, the prep supervisor buys lunch for the press supervisor.
  • Establish a fast communication line between prep and press.
  • Authorize the press operator to get anything he or she needs to get the job going. Fill out paperwork and argue later.
  • Put a phone at each press; a direct line to platemaking.
  • Prep should break into a platemaking sequence to get the needed plate/s out.

Another good thought is to eliminate remakes. I see plants where the remakes are at 12% and others where the remakes are less than 1%. That tells me something can be done.

First, you need to accurately track remakes:

  • Are they caught in prep or caught at the press, and what is the percentage?
  • What is the root cause of the remake: one person making an error, or one shift?

In one plant, recently, 80% of the remakes were caused by one person. Problem solvable.

In another plant, we found that 40% of the remakes were due to bad plates from the manufacturer. Problem solvable.

An ounce of prevention

It comes down to reducing remakes, which can be accomplished by addressing each cause. Some are easy; some are hard. One simple technique I have seen in a few plants is to use a large, high-resolution LCD monitor to look at the work at full size prior to platemaking. You can look at lineup, bleeds, marks, etc. The real advantage is seeing an error that should have been caught before plates were made. An example is color bars running in the work.

Well, now I have been waiting for one hour and 45 minutes. I should stop here, or else I will write something unkind.

Raymond J. Prince, vice president, Technical Consulting Group, NAPL, is a leading expert in pressroom technical and operational issues. Contact him at (605) 941-1492 or