The man behind Industrial Printing

By Lasse Krogell, NOPA

At the end of last year I wrote on this platform about productivity. This is a topic that I never get tired to talk about. I happened to find on two interviews with Mr Ulrich Stetter, CEO of Druckhaus Mainfranken and today also President of Intergraf, talking about industrial printing and scaling of operations. I warmly recommend to watch the interviews and also other interesting recordings on I think it is correct to name Mr. Stetter, the father of industrial printing.

After the introduction of online printing many things have changed on the print market. Druckhaus Meinfranken is the printing company for the Europe wide Flyeralarm online print platform. The key factors of the success of Flyeralarm is according to Mr Stetter that they analysed the needs of the customers, decided on a clear, simple and open prizing with fixed prizes for different predefined products. The customer doesn’t have to build up the prize from different elements that is so common in the quotes made by a normal offset printer. Also, short and reliable delivery times are crucial.

To be efficient in production you have to specialize. Mr Stetter points out that it is not possible to be profitable and have the tight market prices if you have to make a lot of changes in every prepress production process. He tells that over ten years ago when they started production with big sized offset presses the make ready time was 17 minutes. Today it is under 4 minutes. With B1-sized offset presses the make ready time is 2 minutes. To be able to reach these very low figures you have to standardize many things in your process. Also work procedures familiar in lean-production are applied. With these procedures every footstep taken by the operator in the makeready-phase is analysed and optimized.

Mr Stetter also explains how they succeeded to drop the time for a production stop caused by a technical problem on the press. Earlier it usually took over 10 hours to get the press running after the stop. Today the normal stop-time is 1,5 hours.  This is achieved by having qualified maintenance operators in-house and not letting the press operator try to solve the problem but asking the maintenance expert to take over.

One key element in the success of Druckhaus Mainfranken is that they invest in the training of the operators. When buying a new, on paper, more efficient machine it is quite common that it will be used with about the same efficiency as the previous machine. To avoid this the proper training is a must.

You don’t have to be one of the big online printers to take a real leap in productivity. Many years ago, I made up a calculator with which it is easy to test what potential there is to increase the annual turnover if you, for example, cut your makeready time from 12 minutes to 7 minutes. This is also a good tool to get the press operator to understand that it really matters how he works.

At the end of one of the interviews Mr Stetter gives us a good challenge: Try to be better every day.

Hope to see you in Stockholm at Print Next in October!

Lasse Krogell