Convertible Printing – Do You Think You’re Saving Money? Seriously?

While you were sitting in the board meeting or alone in your office this past week studying last quarters P&L, did you determine your company’s profitability by the bottom line or shake the piggy bank to see what’s left over? Were you looking at a realistic outlay or just the balances on the A/P and A/R reports? Are you certain of your exact costs of doing business?

How many of you are you convinced there is actually such a thing as “hard” and “soft” money?

I’m sure you’re aware this expression is usually related in politics in reference to campaign contributions and whether the money has to be reported or not. Unfortunately, many tend to use the phrase in the daily grind of the printing business. I feel that ALL money affects your bottom line.

In many instances, I’ve heard this statement, “Hard money is when I have to spend additional funds to print the job with UV supplies and energy. Soft money is the down time involved in changing the press over from conventional printing to UV and then back again.”

I believe you would be surprised if you added up all of the potential production hours lost going back and forth. Not to mention the waste of supplies in doing so. Are you under the assumption that all of the remaining ink and/or blankets removed form the machine will find their way back on the press during the return conversion? Those losses are “hard” money!

I’ve also mentioned in the past how important conditioning rollers is when going in and out of UV. Even when carried out properly, the quality is usually jeopardized on the first job out of the box going either direction. Are you taking the risk of that job going south with a possible reprint being the cost? Maybe you did not have to reprint but did have to scramble for more paper due to the shortage after the fact. Again, that’s more “hard” money.

Darren has worked in the printing industry for 30 years and spent more than 12 years at two of the nation's leading high-end commercial printers: Bradley Printing in Des Plaines, IL, and Williamson Printing Corp. in Dallas, TX. During that time, he operated conventional and UV 40˝ sheetfed presses and also successfully managed a $15-million pressroom equipment transition. Darren also was Lead Press Instructor for Heidelberg, where he directed specialty equipment startups and was involved in all aspects of the printing process by teaching both instructor and pressroom employees.

In addition, he served as a troubleshooter for various printing companies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. As operations manager for a start-up specialty folding carton company, he played a key role in achieving more than $6 million in sales within two years. Currently Darren is president of D.G. Print Solutions, a consulting firm that supports printing companies of all sizes. He specializes in growth development planning, pressroom color management and pressroom training through specialty print applications.

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  • http://ScottBrown Scott Brown


    I couldn’t agree more. That is why I firmly believe in sharing the whole picture with my customers when considering a new UV press investment.

    Many printing press salesmen will give the impression that “it only takes an hour to convert from conventional to UV and vice-versa.” They don’t tell the rest of the story, as you just did.

    The rest of the story includes the costs that you mentioned and the cost of disruption that you highlighted. Even so, some may still be making the right decision to convert their presses during the first year or so of beginning to print and sell UV. But they must do so with a clear understanding of the costs.

    Now, the HUGE benefits of staying in UV all of the time include:

    1. no lost time and materials related to the conversion

    2. increased operator efficiencies with running the UV process all of the time

    3. NO OFFSET OF JOBS – big cost savings

    4. virtually eliminating marking issues on most substrates

    5. very little spray powder in pressroom

    6. ability to process job in bindery immediately and ship product faster

    This is just to name a few. I brought a potential UV customer to a longtime UV printer who has UV on a long perfector. The prospect asked the production manager about the higher cost of ink and blankets associated with running UV 100% of the time vs. going back and forth. The production manager asked, “How many jobs has your shop had to reprint due to offset or marking in the last year?” The prospect said “too many.” The production manager replied, “I have not had to reprint a job for those reasons in 2 years! I cannot afford NOT to leave the press in UV all of the time!”

    Well said.