We discuss how digital printers can maximise uptime and consequently boost profit margins with Rutger Jansen, CEO at Contiweb.
What do you see as the key challenges for digital printers striving for healthy profits margins?
The trend for fast turnarounds continues apace. Boundaries are blurring between consumers and business buyers, but regardless of the market, just-in-time ordering and next-day delivery are no longer seen as added value services but standard options. At the same time, whilst an oft-cited benefit of digital printing is economical short runs, printers still need a significant volume of work in aggregate because the business models for digital web presses are largely pay-per-click. The more clicks, the lower the price per click, so busier presses deliver much better margins.
The upshot of all these factors is that excellent uptime and productivity are absolute musts in digital printing. Standing still in the industry could have disastrous consequences and so should be avoided wherever possible.
Many readers will know Contiweb for its reputation within the web offset space, so what’s your position in digital?
It’s true that Contiweb is a global leader in the sale and support of state-of-the-art web offset printing presses and auxiliary equipment. Our splicers, dryers, chillers and fluid applicators help printing companies to deliver a high-quality product at the lowest possible costs.
We are now applying that knowledge gained from 40 years in high speed web offset to our equipment for digital web inkjet. Many digital print providers are already benefitting from our industry experience through the series of modular solutions we’ve developed for digital inkjet printing based on proven technology, designed to maximise value at every stage of the digital printing process.
As such, our systems are approved by a number of print manufacturers and are compatible with digital web inkjet presses from all major OEMs.
How does Contiweb meet the challenges of productivity and uptime for digital printers?
In essence, Contiweb equipment for digital inkjet web is designed to increase performance and reduce cost. Quality, uptime and productivity are of the upmost importance, so we look at each step of the process to see what improvements can be made.
One step in the digital printing process where it is easy to lose time is changing to a new paper roll when the current one runs out. Manually changing the roll on a simple unwinder quickly takes fifteen minutes. So for instance, a high speed digital inkjet press can easily use 20-40 paper rolls in an average week, with each changeover taking fifteen minutes –that’s a 25% loss in productivity per operational hour and 250 – 500 hours lost each year. Contiweb delivers a smart, automatic splicer that allows the press to print non-stop, without costly interruptions.
Similarly, changing paper types has the potential for unnecessary disruption. The beauty of digital printing is the ability to run a number of different jobs on one press. Yet with that advantage may come a requirement to use different papers. For one job you may use uncoated paper as standard, whilst another job employing high ink coverage needs treated paper, and then you’re back to annoying press stoppages whilst the paper is changed over. That’s why we developed the Contiweb Variable Coater, offering the capability to use standard offset paper for all print jobs. During printing, the coating can be set as desired, even independently on each side of the paper. This saves time and is also much cheaper than coated or inkjet treated paper. Availability of the paper is guaranteed, because offset paper is always available, and warehousing is reduced because there is no need to keep many different types of paper in stock.
A further annoyance raised by our customers is optimising press utilisation when using offline finishing, without the need for surprise reprints when a splice pops up in the middle of a print, or reduced utilisation whilst printed matter is rolled up again ready for finishing. With the Contiweb CR rewinder you can continue printing without interruption. The CD unwinder and CR rewinder can also work together to achieve synchronized splicing. This means that information about the splice is sent from the CD, to the web press and to the CR, so that each system knows exactly where the splice is located. The section with the splice will not be printed, so waste is eliminated, and reprints are not required.
In web inkjet printing you can easily lose 250-500 hours per year changing paper rolls
And what about quality…?
The aforementioned Contiweb Variable Coater can also provide product quality benefits in the form of print varnish. For direct mail – specifically self-mailers – that include addressee information on the mailer itself, a much-needed extra layer of protection ensures that the information remains legible throughout the postal process. New magic inks available on the market today enable higher quality print on glossy papers, but nevertheless often require an overprint varnish to protect from damage.
For a variety of further products, curling, loss of signature flatness, booklet covers that don’t fit and broken folds can all negatively impact the customer experience, and all have one thing in common – drying. It’s a major problem that is not commonly associated with digital printing, but without remoistening after drying, products will frequently suffer from the problems just mentioned. Essentially, drying removes moisture from the paper with digital web inkjet and if moisture is not re-introduced in a controlled manner, it can cause serious print quality problems.
Contiweb has a ‘plug and play’ Digital Fluid Applicator (DFA) that remoisturises printed paper to its optimum condition, negating all the issues mentioned. The DFA can also apply silicone for those using inline finishing, protecting printed matter from mechanical damage. This is outlined in more detail in a recently published blog on our website.
As the personalisation trend endures, more and more printers are working with personal data, making it preferable to keep all processes in-house. Advances in digital finishing equipment are making it easier to do that inline. Hence an increasing need for silicone application.
That’s a significant portfolio of products for digital printing, is there anything else you would like to add?
I would just like to add one more thing – another benefit from Contiweb’s substantial experience in the industry is an extensive service network that can support digital printers with issues that could affect uptime – 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world. Our digital platform, MyContiweb, gives users insights and control over their printing equipment and with remote diagnostic capabilities, most issues can be resolved without an onsite engineer. Particularly now, in this period of uncertainty across the world, we are absolutely focused on doing everything so that we can to support the industry in returning to normality as quickly as possible. Whilst we cannot predict what the future holds, we are doing our best to ensure all businesses have a healthy future.