Measuring Before Wasting
Converters are always searching for ways to reduce waste but a significant method of doing that is often overlooked—instituting a solid data collection and management system that defines, measures, and minimizes waste.
The success of arriving at a consistent and quality end product is predicated by the institution of a measurement plan that controls data. Data collection requires interpretation; employees may interpret the same information differently, so converters need to have a program in place that evaluates the data and provides strong guidelines.
Why are jobs rejected? Usually because of color inconsistencies, and copy and material issues. A program of best practices to reduce waste includes: the establishment of a controlled environment, a target, and a determined tolerance for data results. Another necessity is having a plan for identifying data the falls outside of your established tolerance parameters, along with a corrective program.
To reduce waste, proofing must be consistent and accurate. Software-based-services are an efficient method of doing this, but, of course, automation will only work if the files its based upon are correct. If a file enters the system for which proper rules are not set, there may be errors in output. It’s essential that there is high-level quality control approval of jobs after an automated process.
Accurate color proofing is another area that effects final job output. The whole point of proofing is to generate a predictable match to the final output, and in order to do this, the pressroom must be consistent and accurate when creating color profiles, then running live work.
The main functions in the plate department include laser imaging, exposure, and processing. Implementing quality control checks in the platemaking department will help ensure that all equipment is functioning correctly. Operators should check raw materials for gauge, laser ablation (to ensure clean imaging), UV lamps for proper and consistent exposure, and general cleanliness and care of the plate processor. Then using a plate measuring device to assess a few measurements on a control strip will confirm (or not) that the platemaking equipment is working correctly. If any defects are found in the final print, it is easy to determine that the plateroom is not the culprit.