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Make the most of existing iron

Oct 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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There were significant purchases at PRINT 09, despite this tough economic climate. But several vendors noted many printers are having difficulty securing financing for major equipment, this year. Manufacturers are responding by strengthening their service and support offerings to help printing companies do more with less.

Clint Bolte, of C. Clint Bolte & Associates (Chambersburg, PA), offered this grim outlook in his PRINT 09 show recap: “Considering how aging the equipment populating most conventional printing plants is, it simply does not take much new information to overwhelm these outdated printers. The most up to date 8,000 printers in North America probably have the modern mechanical capacity to meet the printing volume demands now being serviced by the 35,000 printers still struggling to survive.”

So, for those printers who are unable to finance major equipment purchases in this economy, what can be done to make the most of the equipment they have?

“The new equipment is better than the old,” says Ray Prince, vice president and senior consultant, operations management, NAPL (Paramus, NJ). “But there are a lot of things we can add on to our equipment to make it more efficient. The two areas I would look at are the speed you're running and the waste. Getting the waste down affects your firm dramatically — anything you can do to knock that waste down can help.”

As an consultant, Prince conducts audits for printing operations seeking to improve efficiency. “It's surprising to me — I go into one plant with two-year-old or three-year-old equipment, and there they are running their press at 9,000 iph. I walk into another printer, and they're running the same equipment at 14,000 iph. What's the difference? People. People and the setup.”

Prince suggests printers ask themselves the following questions:

  • Are we set up efficiently?
  • What have we asked our people to do?
  • What are we, in some cases, demanding that they do?
  • What have we trained them to do?

Building business requires more than an investment in equipment. It takes a skilled, motivated workforce trained to adapt to changing customer needs.