Lasers Help Reduce Mark IV Press Warm Up Periods

Source: LGM Graphics, Inc. Company Newsletter

“The most efficient use of paper has become increasingly imperative as paper prices rise and sensitivity to environmental issues grow. As LGM’s environmental watchdog, the control and management of our paper stock is of considerable interest to me.” — Enviro Eddy, Environmental Watchdog, LGM Graphics Inc.

The sound is a piercing 90 decibels of mechanized activity — the sound of the Mark IV Press. Another magazine is rolling off the press and in the time it takes to turn my head, the signatures are cut, folded, and packed on skids ready for the bindery process. The sounds all but drown Bill’s voice as he describes the action that is taking place all around us.

I’m Enviro Eddy. I’m in the press room at LGM Graphics and about to learn from Bill Goralchuk, Web and Engineering Manager, the steps that have been and are being taken to gain control over paper consumed in the printing process. The most efficient use of paper has become increasingly imperative as paper prices rise and sensitivity to environmental issues grow. As LGM’s environmental watchdog, the control and management of our paper stock is of considerable interest to me.

Numerous factors come into play as we study the problem of paper waste. At the start of each job, the press is “webbed” up and the make ready is begun. As the paper is pulled through the press, the crew adjusts the color, water register, folding and many other areas and control the printing process. So, until the product is ready to save on skids, what is being produced? You guessed it; the less waster there is in paper, ink and labor.

Since the purchase of the Mark IV in 1988, our make ready and run waste has been significantly reduced. And how did we do this? I thought you would never ask.

Color setting time has been reduced through the use of the state-of-the-art scanning and computer-based press adjustments. Register is automatically adjusted by stroke cameras that use targets on the web to manipulate the paper and cylinders. The job is then completed by a computer-controlled folder.

Water composition plays a role in printing jobs. The characteristics of a city’s water supply can vary depending on the season and what the city puts into the water, to keep it safe for the population it serves. These fluctuations in water composition cause problems with color production, and again, when the colors change within a job, the job is unacceptable, that translates into paper waste. Although Winnipeg’s water supply is far from being the worst for impurities, it was causing a degree of difficulty. To counteract this problem LGM installed a reverse osmosis filtration system, which cleans our water supply, eliminating all but 2% of the impurities. This has further reduced our make ready waste, to the point where impurities in the water are no longer a problem.

The amount of paper that moves through modern presses is phenomenal — in the area of 14 million pounds annually. Of course, with no method of control in place, waste would also be phenomenal.

Arriving at an efficient method of managing and controlling the amount of waste paper coming off the presses has been a long and arduous task for Bill Goralchuk. But, step by step, the battle of waste paper is being won. It actually began as far back as 1982 when an attempt was made to “try to identify waste from records.” Bill, with consultant Jack Russel who had expertise in the area of waste management, made an effort to develop an accurate press count system.

After testing several different systems LGM chose the Toledo Seale Company technology, combined this with input from Bill and the computer expertise of Mind Computers (Brad Fry and Neil Stern) and created a system customized to our particular requirements. This system, using QNX Windows-based software developed in Ottawa, now provides us with much more information. It has eliminated under and over-production on jobs, and we know how much waste there is on a job — the current average is around 2%. The monitor indicates the quantity to be printed, the quantity that has already been printed, and indicates the percentage of waste produced at each moment of the press run. An added feature of the systems includes a preventative maintenance program. The monitor indicates at what point the press needs grease and oil.

By the time this article is published, LGM’s new Hantscho Mark 16 Press will be operational. With the introduction of our new 4 million dollar press we will be moving to the 50-inch-wide rolls of paper. This will further reduce waste paper by cutting down on the number of splices and will reduce the amount of space required for storage of inventory by 30-40%. To solve the problem of mis-alignment a new technique called “laser alignment” [HLI’s L-743 Ultra-Precision Triple Scan® Laser Alignment System*] is being used for the first time with the equipment. This will refine printing accuracy to within 1/1000th of an inch as opposed to the present 5 to 10/1000th of an inch. Plans are to apply this new laser alignment technique to the Mark IV early in the new year.

Bill is looking ahead to the time when press warm-up periods will be eliminated. [Ed. note: Misalignment causes lots of wasted paper during warmup periods.] This will further reduce waste paper that occurs as the press warms up to ideal printing temperature. To this end Bill envisions the use of a type of block heater similar to that in your car. Bill compared the development in press heaters as the “greatest invention in the industry since offset printing.” Future editions of PressPective will carry developments as they occur.

Control and management of paper used at LGM Graphics is Bill’s responsibility. “Paper is the most expensive part of any printing operation, reducing paper used in the production process allows us to remain competitive,” he concluded over the steady sound of the busy Mark IV.