Top class sheetfed productivity

Commentary written by Lasse Krogell:

One of the pioneers in printing productivity, Antony Thirlby, published recently on LinkedIn a short feed from his company Venn Holdings in the UK. In the post he presented some remarkable sheetfed offset production figures. In a period of 48 hours 168 make-readies were made and 582,400 sheets printed on a Heidelberg XL 75 press.

Based on these figures, I made some calculations to average the figures to see what they mean per hour in continuous production. The average run length was 3,467 sheets. Two of the runs were over 40,000 sheets and two over 10,000 sheets, the others clearly smaller. To do 168 make-readies in 48 hours you have to do 3.5 make-readies as an average per hour. If we calculate a make-ready time of 4 minutes, they used 14 minutes every hour to do these 3.5 make-readies. This means 11.2 hours used for make-readies during the 48-hour period and hence 36.8 hours to run and do some smaller cleaning and similar things that usually are unavoidable. The screen shot from the Heidelberg console that Thirlby also published, show that they were constantly running 18,000 independent of run length. Really extraordinary figures for such a long continuing period.

Antony Thirlby has made a long carrier in the printing industry. The first time I met him was in 2010 when he was the CEO of ESP Colour. Already then, he could show productivity figures I had never seen before. When visiting the shop floor we could see that the figures he showed corresponded to the actual situation on the presses and in the bindery. From 2016 Anthony worked 3 years for Heidelberg. He had a key role in supporting the global sales with his hands on experience on how productive the presses really are.

These figures show that there is a huge potential in the sheetfed presses. You can say that it is almost a rule that the presses at the local print shop, anywhere, are running at a speed 70 – 75 % of the defined running speed. Why accept such a low performance? With the high level of automation there are not any real excuses.