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Makeready killers & estimating standards

Jun 1, 2009 12:00 AM


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Nobody likes to talk about that subject, but we should review estimating standards every six months. Life should be getting better in a pressroom and not worse. We should be constantly striving to improve productivity, and today we find more can be done. Recently, I visited a plant and reviewed its estimating standards for the pressroom as they felt they were losing work to 40-inch equipment. (They only had 29-inch sheetfed presses.)

They were indeed losing work. On a 29-inch 6-color, the makeready sheets (clean white) were estimated at 120 sheets per color. That's 720 sheets for a 6-color job, for each form. The total job with four forms takes 2,880 sheets of makeready. Four weeks prior to that visit, I visited another firm with virtually the same press (5 years old), and for a 6-color job, 75 sheets of new paper were used per form. What a difference. When you find a substantial difference it is indicative of serious problems and it is not just paper waste. For a 40-inch 6-color press, the makeready waste should be under 400 sheets per form. With new presses it is even less.

It is not just paper waste — it is wasted time and motion. Let's look at the killers of makeready:

  • Old ink — older than one year.
  • More than one pull for obtaining fit.
  • Not running “gray” sheets — sheets previously printed so that you can bring up color.
  • No CIP3 interface.
  • Handwritten job tickets or any handwriting on a ticket.
  • No blanket washers.
  • No CTP in prepress.
  • No scanning spectrophotometer or scanning densitometer.
  • No color booth for viewing at 5000K.
  • Poor rollers or poorly set rollers.
  • No skid turner.

Now you know the first step in what to look for in the area of improving makeready time and reducing waste. The next area to look at in improving your numbers would be to evaluate the work area.

  • Is the area clean and orderly?
  • Are all tools within 15 seconds of where they are needed?
  • During the makeready, what is each person doing and is everyone doing something?
  • Are the instructions clear?

Finally, please post the targets for makeready waste, makeready time and running speed.


Raymond J. Prince is a leading expert in pressroom technical and operational issues. He is vice president and senior consultant, operations management, NAPL (Paramus, NJ).
Contact him at (605) 941-1492 or e-mail rprince@napl.org.