Komori Product Manager Doug Schardt speaks with Cary Sherburne at Komori America headquarters about what printers should consider when thinking about acquiring news presses and talks about what's new from Komori.
Cary Sherbrune: Hey, I'm Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com. And I'm here with Doug Schardt, who is the product manager at Komori America. Nice to be with you today here at Komori headquarters.
Doug Schardt: It's a pleasure to be with you too. Thank you very much.
Cary Sherbrune: We've been, obviously, through some pretty difficult times as an industry over the last few years for various reasons. And maybe you can just talk a little bit about what you think printers should be thinking about as they consider a new press acquisition. And what are some of the things that Komori is doing to help them along those lines?
Doug Schardt: It has been some interesting times. And there's been a lot of business changes that have happened. Probably the biggest thing you can do, looking forward, is to find the niche. Find the area that you can excel at, that the competition maybe isn't focused on.
Cary Sherbrune: So, in terms of applications and customers, industries, vertical industries, that kind of thing?
Doug Schardt: Actually, all.
Cary Sherbrune: All of the above.
Doug Schardt: All of the above. Yep, you really need to find out where you're situated and where you want to go with it. You can also look at technology. Technology on sheetfed presses has not ****. There's been a lot of pressure on just printing in general. There's been the advent of digital and web efficiencies coming down. And sheetfed is flourishing as well. Even today you're looking at efficiencies as the key to real success out there with lowering cost. And efficiency is a pretty all-encompassing term. It's not just about productivity anymore, it's about lowering costs. And that means paper waste. That means press efficiencies. That means energy. That means solvent usage. Basically the all-encompassing look at sheetfed and the costs that go into it, getting those costs down so that you can deliver a product with the most value to it.
Cary Sherbrune: So when we look around here, you've got signs all over the place that say, "20 sheets." What does that mean?
Doug Schardt: Yeah, 20 sheets. That might someday kill me. But 20 Sheets is the point where the presses today can be at a stable ink and water balance. So that's when you want to start taking your first pull from a cold make-ready to where you can look at that sheet and start making decisions about register, about color, and about acceptability, and things like that. We've even had acceptable visual color at five sheets. And the problem for me is getting people to believe we can actually do that. That's been such a milestone around people's heads, that you have to have 100, 200, 300 sheets. You don't.
Cary Sherbrune: And a lot of that comes sort of from the craft-based mentality that we've had for so many years, because you've needed it in the past.
Doug Schardt: Yeah, absolutely. This is turning in to be a manufacturing business right now. That press is a tool designed to manufacture product and we, as a designer and a manufacturer, we can get those efficiencies down to unbelievable levels if you let the press do really what it can do.
Cary Sherbrune: Well, what are some of the philosophical things that Komori is doing to continue the efficiencies? I mean, you must have some philosophy around that for engineering.
Doug Schardt: Well, you where this is going is, as I said, it’s efficiency. And really, the end game is make-readies need to be as fast as possible. And then we'll actually include some other technology, camera technology, to be inspecting every sheet that's printed during the run, to look for defects, and to manage color at the same time. So it has pretty much turned into a seamless job flow. We're trying to get away from even stopping to make a first pull. Go ahead and pull, but don't stop.
Cary Sherbrune: Don't stop.
Doug Schardt: These presses are that efficient.
Cary Sherbrune: So what are some of the new things that we'll see from Komori?
Doug Schardt: Well, there's a few new things. Hopefully, everybody's heard about H-UV right now.
Cary Sherbrune: H-UV? Spell that out.
Doug Schardt: H-UV is High-Efficiency UV. It's a new technology from Komori, where we're literally using a single bulb to dry all the ink, and coating, and varnish, and get rid of heat and ozone, et cetera.
Cary Sherbrune: And PQA is?
Doug Schardt: PQA is Print Quality Assessment. That's the camera inspection system on-press designed to look for defects and closed-loop adjust color during the run. So that's the tool that really kind of brings it all together, that ties the make-ready to the run, follows right through.
Cary Sherbrune: So if printers are going to Drupa and thinking about getting a new press, sounds like Komori ought to be a stop.
Doug Schardt: Komori should definitely be a stop. Not only are you going to see smoking-fast make-readies, down less than five minutes, you're going to see weigh sheets down minimal they can be. You're going to see problem-feed print throughout the run. You'll see densities being held one to two points throughout the run. It's an amazing advancement.
Press manufacturers have made efforts to improve their start up performance and consistency of their presses. That is a good thing.
At times I think the marketing hype can get a bit ahead of actual capabilities for performance improvement. The marketing groups seem to be better engineers than the engineers themselves. :-)
I think what the industry needs is some method to independently test performance claims from press manufacturers. A set of successive test forms that are designed to demonstrate the actual performance of the press with respect to predictability, consistency and response times when going from one job to another very different job.
These forms would be unknown to the press manufacturer so there would be no chance of any effort to find the best settings on the press before hand.
Also the first pull should be hands off performance.
I think we need some way to test claims instead of seeing controlled demonstrations. It would make things more clear to the industry and also show which supplier is actually delivering on their claims.
It might spur an effort to perform at higher levels like the Olympics does for athletes. Let the games begin.