Survey Shows Top Reasons for Plate Remakes

PITTSBURGH—Do film-based plates require fewer remakes than digital plates?

A survey of 29 companies conducted by the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF) and the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) produced some interesting results. Participants were asked to choose from a list of likely causes of plate remakes and record them for 30 consecutive days. In all, data was recorded on roughly 55,100 plates (42,600 digital and 12,500 film-based).

The leading remake causes for film-based plates were plate wear (17.7 percent), voids (8.1), register (6.6), plates not stored (6.2) and changed press (5.5). For digital plates, the top causes were plates damaged on-press (9.1 percent), customer change (8.8), processor malfunction (6.9), production planning (6.9) and RIP problems (5.4).

The survey indicated that 4.3 percent of plates are remade—4.8 for film-based and 4.1 for digital. The results for film-based plates were somewhat weighted by a folding carton converter that experienced 42 percent remakes. If that company is not included in the study, the figure for film-based plates drops to 3.4 percent.

Results of the study were presented by GATF technical consultant Bruce Tietz at the recent 10th annual GATF/NAPL Sheetfed Pressroom Conference in Chicago. The survey was distributed to 200 past attendees of the GATF/NAPL Sheetfed Pressroom Conference and GATF’s Continuous Improvement Network.

“There is a dearth of historic plate remake information available,” Tietz says. “According to NAPL’s 1987 waste and spoilage survey, the average plate remake percentage was more than 7 percent. The 4.3 percent average reported in this latest survey is certainly an improvement, but reflects statistics from a more educated printer, not the industry as a whole.”

Given that the results were culled from printers who attend industry functions, “We suspect that companies that send people to conferences, especially one that focuses on quality issues, may experience fewer plate remakes than other companies.”

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