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The Drive for Productivity Gains


By Gerard Heanue, Managing Director of Heidelberg UK

As we entered the 21st century commentators were still talking about the move from a craft-based to an industrialised printing industry. The departmentalised organisation was giving way to digitised workflows linking production and business aspects of the company. There was a rise in the take up of company-wide ISO standards (9001 for quality, 12647 for colour and 140001 for environment). This holistic approach continues, made easier by the clever measurement and control tools available from Heidelberg these days.

However, nearly 20 years on we are entering another phase with terms like Big Data, the Internet of Everything and Industry 4.0 now in common usage. Suddenly a company is no longer in isolation. It will benefit from the sum of knowledge of the industry, be that in benchmarking performance or helping with the selection of new equipment or harnessing fast-developing remote maintenance and service opportunities. This will mean higher output, reduced makereadies, greater control of quality and cost and less downtime overall.

Last year Smithers Pira issued a report on “Real production capability of pre-owned sheetfed litho presses” which studied the impression count of almost 450 pre-owned sheetfed litho presses under 10 years old from five different manufacturers. It found that Heidelberg presses were 24.1% more productive than all other manufacturers’ machines and, in the case of the Speedmaster XL 105/106, 66% more productive.

Productivity gains are even greater on the latest generation of Push To Stop presses. This technology, combining press technology with spectral measurement and latest generation software and workflow, mean that the press intelligently sets up and processes jobs leaving the operator to rein in rather than push on the press. It is a whole new mindset.

Those requiring the highest output and lowest per sheet business model need to look at this technology. Some of the high volume, short run web-to-print specialists have already done so. They are also ganging jobs up to maximise cost and time efficiency and we have seen a trend in the last couple of years towards LE-UV and LED-UV “dry sheet technology”, allowing work to move into postpress with no waiting time shortening the overall order to delivery timescale.

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