Technology Editor

With all the talk of excess capacity and declining sales, why would any printer consider buying a new press? First, the obvious reason. Capacity on an industry-wide level doesn’t necessarily mirror the situation in a local market or any given company.

There also is a more subtle rational that has grown in importance with the changes in business conditions. The pressures of a highly competitive market make it even more critical for a shop to have the right kind of capacity. Production efficiency and flexibility are more important than gross capacity.

Sheetfed offset presses used to break down fairly cleanly into several categories based on size/format and capabilities. Today, with the introduction of new sizes and extension of features throughout product lines, the market has become more of a continuum. Larger format machines—40˝ and bigger—will be considered here, but many of the issues and trends carry over into other segments.

“There are a lot of old-generation, large-size sheeted presses out there,” agrees Christian Cerfontaine, director of marketing at MAN Roland. “But, it’s getting tougher to make money with them because they take so long to makeready from job to job, and their run rates are low compared to what you can accomplish on a modern 40˝ machine.

“One new, automated 40˝ machine with CIM (computer-integrated manufacturing support) can replace two or three old presses,” Cerfontaine continues. “Or, one new, automated 73˝ press with CIM can do the work of two or three modern 40˝ machines.”

The latter case is simply a question of mathematics, he says. If the size of the sheet is tripled, then the press can be three times as productive—assuming all other variables are kept equal.

“There is a difference between old capacity, which wastes time, money and energy, and smart capacity, which uses CIM and automation to maximize uptime and productivity,” Cerfontaine asserts. “The ideal presses are the ones that provide printers the most production possibilities.”

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