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What's your maintenance budget for a 4-year-old press?

Jan 1, 2011 12:00 AM

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  1. How electronic is the press? The more electronics, the more maintenance is required. In a large printing company that charted cost of maintence as a percentage of sales, the percentage kept increasing over a 30-year period. Look at your press today — you need an electrical expert as well as a mechanic.

  2. Is it UV or conventional? A full UV press will last longer than a conventional press, due to not having to run spray powder. Spray powder acts as a heat insulator and coats all electronics in the press, thus allowing heat buildup. UV units, themselves, many times will outlast the press.

  3. How well do we maintain the press? If you only allow four hours per week every Monday morning, chances are you are not doing enough. Likewise, Monday morning is the worst time to do maintenance. Management is rested from the weekend, they come in the plant on Monday morning and every piece of equipment into the plant is not running! Keep the daytime hours for your customers and do maintence on the second or third shifts.

  4. How often do you do a press test? In my opinion, you should be running a print quality test every three months. By doing this, you can spot problems before your customers tell you of them or you have a major internal rejection.

  5. Are you running at rated speed? Presses manufactured in recent times are made to run at full rated speed. The only exception would be for bad stock.

  6. Are you running board or plastic? When running heavyweight materials, the wear on the press will be a bit more severe, necessitating more maintenance and care.

  7. Are you running two eight-hour shifts? 24/5 or 24/7? Most maintence schedules were written by the manufacturer for running two eight-hour shifts. If you are running more, you need to increase the maintenance.

  8. Do you invite the manufacturer in every three or six months to go over the press? Contract maintenance? Both of these are good, solid ideas to consider for your plant. Yes, they cost money, but unplanned downtime is a killer.

As you can see, there is not an easy answer to the question. Maintain the press well and you can get an additional two years or more from it.

Raymond J. Prince, vice president, Technical Consulting Group, NAPL, is a leading expert in pressroom technical and operational issues. Contact him at (605) 941-1492 or