Short Runs are a Tall Order
Short-run printing is no easy task, but when done right, the rewards can make it all worthwhile.
PACKAGE PRINTERS ARE facing a future marked by shorter production runs that may pose challenges for even the best of today's printers. Meeting these challenges head on will require investment in technologies that are geared toward the ultimate in flexibility.
Printers will be getting all the help they need from press manufacturers who are making tremendous strides towards maximizing the uptime potential of their new press offerings. "The well-known trend in the market is toward smaller runs for various reasons," observes Terry Trexler, product manager for Gallus. "We understand the pressure printers are facing to provide just-in-time (JIT) production, multi-SKUs, and versioning. Our innovative focus is on making the short run as cost effective as possible for the printer."
Although much of the innovation in new press features is targeted toward the needs of short-run printing, Mac Rosenbaum, vice president of Aquaflex, states the overall benefits that these new features can provide.
"Most printers who successfully print short-run jobs find themselves with a mix of both short-run and long-run work," he says. "Optimizing for the short run only improves your profitability on the long runs. The key to more successful short-run and long-run printing is flexibility, and the ability to move up to more complex jobs that generate greater profits."
High-tech is the answer
There are several technologies that press manufacturers are incorporating into press designs that focus on the key goals of reducing changeover and makeready times. Trexler provides a run down of several of these technologies, along with their impact.
"Our move to sleeve technology for the anilox rollers and print cylinders is one example. In addition, automation and single-drive technology greatly reduce the machine set-up and changeover times. The use of fully integrated servo drive technology allows the printer to preset the press and web tension from the computer memory for repeat jobs. New jobs are set up from the start almost on register and are quickly adjusted with automatic register control."