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Who should check a job?

May 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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Many issues arise in a printing firm that need to be addressed with standard procedures. I see questionable practices, at times, that need to be given some thought. Likewise, some procedures need to be implemented. Let's look at three of these.

Proofreading and changing customer files | Many times we see printers proofreading a PDF file for mistakes in grammar and spelling. I surveyed 20 companies on whether or not prepress should read a file, and the results were very mixed. Some felt that catching errors and mistakes was taken negatively by buyers, while others felt that the customers appreciated the interest. A number of printers related some positive experiences with proofreading. One commented that a customer thanked him for catching a bad phone number. I asked how that error was caught. He told me his people call every number to see if it is correct. He also told me that every website is checked. Many errors were found. Another printer related the issue of a calendar ordered with 31 days in February. Keep in mind that you never make a change without an OK from the buyer in writing. As a printer, you need to decide if you are going to read copy or not and how to handle the errors you find. Many printers feel that with supplied PDF files, it is not their responsibility to read anything. You need to make a decision one way or the other.

Having the press operator check to make sure customer changes have been made | One printer's quality control measure, because prepress was busy, was to require the press operator to check the OK sheet against the proof and the customer requests. I feel this is a disastrous process. Holding up a press to check a file after a press makeready has been made is exceedingly expensive and wasteful. The procedure should be for prepress to check the paperwork or e-mails against the current file. The pressman's job is to run the press and not check for prepress omissions. Why hold up a high hourly rate press when the prepress rates are far lower?

Having a disaster recovery plan | Where is your fire insurance policy? Where is your plant inventory of supplies and equipment? Do you have photographs of every piece of equipment and a record of model and serial numbers? Where is a listing of employees' home phone numbers? Is all of this kept inside the plant or outside of the plant?

Disasters do happen, and it's important to be prepared. Is your firm prepared to survive a flood, hurricane, fire or vandalism? Every firm needs a disaster recovery plant that is well communicated to all supervisors and key employees. Likewise, copies need to be kept off site. Last, but not least, where are your business and prepress files backed up? They need to be in a secure site 1,500 miles away. Please think this over.

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