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How to make some easy money

Feb 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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Recently, in my travels, I have seen much used equipment on the market, as well as printers asking how to make existing equipment last longer. The first question I am asked about used equipment is, “How good is it?” Well, that can take some extensive testing. As a general observation, presidents of printing companies treat their personal cars better that their most expensive presses.

If you wish to get the most out of your equipment, the answer is twofold. First is a documented maintenance program that is done in a timely manner; second is a quarterly or semi-annual full press test. These will show how the press was cared for and how it actually prints.

Now, let's look at what does not work.

  1. Doing a site inspection to talk with the press operator about maintenance. Over the years, 20 or more people may have worked on a 10-year-old, 40-inch sheetfed press. Unless there is a documented maintenance history, the facts are just not known.
  2. Looking for daily, monthly, quarterly, semiannual and annual written maintenance reports. If there are none, then was it done? Chances are that, 90% of the time, it was not done at all.
  3. Relying on original equipment manufacturers' (OEM) records. This can give an incomplete story, because many firms will use a combination of manufacturers' repair people and independent firms.
  4. Looking at previous printed jobs to judge the print quality of the press. I have seen several cases in which only very easy jobs were shown. Many issues are not seen on just one trimmed sample of a job. You need to see a full six-part press test, samples and report.

Where to go for a good maintenance plan?

The OEMs have done an excellent job of preparing plants. My experience has led me to believe that if they say to do XYZ, then do it at the prescribed time. If they say five hours per week is necessary to do the maintenance, then spend the time. I have witnessed one horror story after another of disasters on press because the machine was not maintained.

Some of the web press manufacturers have an online system for reporting maintence. If a task is not done at the prescribed time, a notice is sent to the company.

Where does the money come in?

In increased press performance and productivity; and increased value on an eventual trade-in or sale.

Raymond J. Prince, NAPL partner consultant, is a leading expert in pressroom technical and operational issues. Contact him at (605) 941-1492 or