Heatset Web Presses -- War Heats Up
Printers not only have these issues, which are driven from the customer side, to contend with, Gustafson says, but also a weak ad market that is driving the competitive side of the pricing equation toward the lower end.
"The result is a major squeeze effect on the operating margins of most commercial printers in today's market. In order to survive and ultimately grow their bottom lines, most printers have resorted to reducing operating costs by reducing manpower, reducing waste and increasing throughput of the press in the same operating window."
Since most printers are now running leaner operations, retention and recurrent training of key press operators is becoming paramount. "With less and less personnel on board, those remaining must be razor sharp," asserts Rich Kerns, of Solna Web. "The use of today's technology allows printing firms to keep up the output with fewer employees. The new technologies relieve operators of tedious and repetitious jobs, while allowing them to concentrate on quality and throughput."
To remain competitive, web printers must choose new pressroom gear with the tools that allow them to get by with fewer operators, while improving quality and production, Kerns believes.
To that end, heatset web offset printers seek, if not demand, several key features for their presses. "First, the ability of the press to allow precise control throughout the speed range is critical," advises Bob Pitel, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Sanden Machine. "Full programmability of the press is necessary to turn an otherwise daunting task of controlling print quality into a relatively simple and manageable process. The second key, no different from all press technology, is fast make-ready and low waste. The third criterion is the increased need for a powerful ink train to allow for the heavy coverage requirements of commercial applications."