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Sheetfed waste: Get everyone involved

Apr 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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Sheetfed waste has been a big issue lately. Let's look at overall plant waste and then sheetfed waste. There are good figures available on spoilage but not on waste for a plant. The usual approach, and not a bad one, is to look at waste in each area of the plant. The first step would be to define the waste and then measure it. Once we have those figures, we can form a team to attack each area and look at how that waste can be reduced.

This basic approach will work in every area of the plant. The best implementation of this approach that I have seen is to involve all parties, including the manufacturer of the machine. The manufacturer is a key to the team because it not only knows the equipment but sees what others are doing to reduce waste and increase productivity.

Start here

In the sheetfed pressroom, there are some easy areas to look at first:

  1. Do you keep all sheetfed stock covered and sealed in the warehouse?

  2. Do you deliver to the press the exact amount of stock needed or the run — makeready, run waste, bindery setup and waste?

  3. If the press operator needs more stock, is this recorded?

  4. Is any leftover stock returned to inventory and recorded?

  5. If there are unopened full cartons left, are they returned to the paper merchant for credit?

Once you have accomplished or checked these items, you need to look at your estimating standards and procedures. Depending on the press age and number of colors, as well as size, the numbers might be quite different between printers. Keep in mind that newer presses will use far less stock for a makeready than an older press. Your estimating standards should take into account the following:

  1. Basis weight of stock.
  2. Number of colors.
  3. Heavy coverage.
  4. Light colors.
  5. Light coverage.
  6. Quality.

Some studies have produced interesting figures, but what really matters is how well you can do. My best advice to you is measure your waste and then try to reduce it. With modern equipment, run waste is very small, especially if you take care of your stock prior to running, have temperature and humidity control and use a jogger aerator prior to running the stock.

People make the difference

The best I have observed on a 40-inch, 6-color press is 50 or less sheets and a color OK at less than 200 sheets for a quality job. If we look at what is the most important factor in reducing waste, it would have to be people, with equipment running second.

There are a few simple methods to reduce overall waste that very few plants apply. For one, I would suggest saving all printed makeready sheets from the press, marking them with a red marker and placing them on top of the load going to the bindery. These are the makeready sheets for the bindery.

Raymond J. Prince, NAPL partner consultant, is a leading expert in pressroom technical and operational issues. Contact him at (605) 941-1492 or