Web Offset -- Turning Up the Heat
Keep it Short
According to Barbara Gora, marketing director for Goss Graphic Systems, high quality and low cost for run lengths of all sizes are driving factors for the web offset industry. Shorter press runs that accommodate advertisers' needs for more targeting and minimal inventory are driving influences.
"Today, press manufacturers are concentrating on features that enable printers to push run lengths even lower through the integration of quick makeready and job changeover features," Gora points out.
"We're also seeing a greater push for digital workflow management and plantwide systems integration of management information tools. The open systems architecture of today's press control systems provides a necessary link."
But what good are advanced web presses without technically competent press operators to run them?
North America suffers from a lack of skilled lithographers to run the presses, according to Dennis Stotts, marketing manager for Didde Web Press. In response to this shortcoming, Didde is designing its presses to utilize software that provides ample artificial intelligence for troubleshooting and productivity monitoring.
"The benefit of internal design is our ability to customize the software based on customer and operator preferences in format and performance measurements," Stotts remarks. "We can also utilize remote diagnostic capabilities via built-in modems to optimize both service response and overall productivity."
According to Stotts, Didde has also developed a new level of electronic press controls that allow operators to easily migrate from the "old mechanical" technology. The control levels reduce the skill level required to operate a web press, reduce makeready time, cut down on waste and improve profit margins, even on short runs.
Will Train, Will Travel
He contends that Didde's national service organization provides one of the most extensive operator training programs in the industry. Training is provided at the Didde plant and on-site at the printer's plant. This phased approach to training, Stotts adds, has proven to be very successful in quickly aligning the equipment complexities with an operator's current skill level.