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What is stupidity in the pressroom?

Dec 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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A good friend of mine (Bill McLauchlan) likes to state, “Stupidity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” Once, while spraying weeds, I realized that I had been using the same spray for 30 years on Canadian Thistle with the same results: The thistle came back each year. Now I was the stupid one.

So often this is what we are doing in our pressrooms. Problems will not just go away if we keep trying to solve them in the same way that failed the last time.

Recently, I spoke with a pressroom manager who had a severe issue with his press. He told me the problem, and I asked him how he knew that was the problem and what the cause was. He replied that he just guessed. After much discussion, it came out that he did not know what the problem was, nor the cause. He had done no diagnostic tests to determine what the issue actually was.

It turned out that the problem had been happening since 1996. And, sadly, it was on a major piece of equipment.

Having an open mind and digging into a problem can be a lot of fun. Several key points:

  1. Use your suppliers

    Give them sheets and ask them to give the issue some thought. Each supplier has a lab with talented people. I have never seen a supplier that would not help with a problem. Ink, press as well as consumable suppliers are wonderful in this industry.

  2. Use your press account representative

    He or she travels extensively and has visited hundreds of pressrooms.

  3. Buy all the printing technical books you can

    Also, ask suppliers for troubleshooting charts.

Keep in mind that you do not have to live with a problem forever. There are problems that are not solvable: fluting, machine design, etc. But those are rare.

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