Quite often, the machine price is not the main consideration. Depending on the product run on the machine, peripheral equipment must also be installed and internal logistics optimized.
Press manufacturers should help you by providing information regarding their machine’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Return on Investment calculations (ROI). Make sure you include the preventive maintenance parameter.
Also useful: What's beneath the iceberg: calculating your real printing press ROI.
Include your operator
Studies have shown, many other parameters influence press performance next to technical innovations. When you zoom into these parameters, it turns out that operator motivation is key to produce good quality labels in the required volumes, within the desired (calculated) time.
At MPS, we see an increasing number of owners involving their operational staff in the decision-making process of a new press. The man or woman running the machine needs to be happy. I previously indicated that operator training should be part of your preventive maintenance schedule. Another factor that increases operator motivation is a press that performs to expectations and never disappoints.
Preventive maintenance checklist
In the pre-purchase phase, challenge your press manufacturer to explain and show you:
- Preventive maintenance schedules
- Costs (historic) of periodically replaced parts and consumables
- Availability of parts
- Availability of local certified technicians
Maintenance contract or service-level agreement (SLA)
Take time to discuss and negotiate a service level agreement with your machine supplier. All have programs available from "all inclusive" to "when required." Don’t blindly accept everything offered. I encourage owners to take a critical look at what’s proposed and evaluate with in-house staff or a third party to balance the investment against the actual added value.
Consumables and spare parts packages
Printing presses perform their best with the recommended consumables from the press manufacturer. Although there are good alternatives available on the market, before purchasing, ask your machine supplier for advice. Original spare parts are normally a must, especially within the warranty period of your machine.
In current high-tech printing presses, what might seem like a good/cheap deal on spare parts can quickly turn into a nightmare. Not only in direct cost but consequential damage and press downtime.
Additional or refreshment training for operator and maintenance staff
Can maintenance be accomplished by your operator or technical staff, or are specialists from your machine supplier required? If yes, how often and at what cost? Additional training might be needed.
With current automation options available on flexo presses, it might be tempting to hire a less educated or experienced operator for the press. In some cases this is sufficient, however, even with state-of-the-art automation, an expert’s eye of an educated printer is often required.
I have seen print shops where, for example, two presses were run by operators and supervised by an experienced and educated printer. When a press is new and runs without any (application) issues, all is fine. The moment an issue arises, that is where a more experienced printer pays off. My advice? Keep your printer and/or operator happy by including them in your preventive maintenance schedule activities.
For more blogs from MPS, click here.
About the author: John Beltman has been the senior project manager at MPS since 2005 and is involved in the sales process from order to installation. He has considerable experience, especially in service and the management of more complex projects.