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Harden of Tempo Graphics Takes 2003 Best Web Offset Operator Award

Press release from the issuing company

Pittsburgh, Pa., May 29, 2003 — In a battle of problem-solving and web offset press operating skill, Kim Harden, plant manager for Tempo Graphics in Carol Stream, Illinois, came out on top. Mr. Harden was the winning finalist in the second annual "I Am the Greatest" GATF Web Press Skills Contest. Sponsored by the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF) and MAN Roland, the contest used the SIR Heatset Web Offset Training Simulator, a virtual press, to present problem-solving exercises. The competition took place during the Web Offset Association’s annual conference, May 4–7, 2003, at Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. "The ability of the simulator to track the costs of the contestants’ actions makes it ideally suited for this type of contest," said Jim Workman, GATF director of training programs, who managed the competition. The simulator is a highly integrated, interactive software package used as part of a training system for press operators. It recreates the operational aspects of a web press, from the reelstand to folder through computer simulation. The preliminary round of the contest attracted 14 press foremen, supervisors, production managers, and plant managers. These contestants were given 30 minutes to solve the same six specific makeready problems involving registration and color variation and worn ink rollers. Solving the exercise within the allotted time and with the lowest cost, Harden and Andre Dolor, a web foreman for Hagadone Printing Company in Honolulu, Hawaii, advanced to the final round. As the attendees of the Web Offset Association conference watched their actions on two large screens, Harden and Dolor raced to detect and solve seven identical problems stemming from tension variation, poor cut-off register, misadjusted dampening rollers, and registration and color variation. Harden pulled ahead to solve all the problems in only 10 minutes with a low cost of $326. "I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to troubleshoot as well using a computer graphic as having a real sheet in my hand. But the simulator does a fantastic job of representing a printed sheet—detailing fold marks, register marks, and the associated unit problems," said Harden. Harden, who worked in the heatset web press environment for 25 years, learned web press operations after high school and operated a press for 10 years. He noted, "During the contest, I had a dry-up on one side of the sheet. When I increased the water, the dry-up got a little better but then color became washed out. This led me to suspect that the roller setting was bad. It all looked very real and allowed me to react exactly how I would with a real sheet. It also made you solve problems in a proper sequence." Now in a managerial role at Tempo Graphics, a direct mail printer in business for 30 years, Harden commented how the simulator’s cost tracking mechanism could demonstrate to a press operator how his decisions and problem solving abilities directly affect the profitability of a job. "The simulator would be a great tool in any pressroom to advance the troubleshooting skills of press operators and train newcomers. Plus think of the great competitions you could hold, all the while advancing the skills of your employees!" Along with his new title, Harden received a plaque, a commemorative watch from MAN Roland, GATF textbooks, and a case of French wine by Paris-based Sinapse Graphics International, the company that developed the press simulators. For finishing second, Dolor received $150 set of GATF’s bestsellers, Solving Web Offset Press Problems and Web Offset Press Operating, along with a bottle of wine. GATF distributes both the SIR Heatset Web Offset Training Simulator and the Sheetfed Offset Training Simulator to printing companies and schools, conducts a training program on how to use the programs, and provides technical support for the systems. Training via simulators prepares printing apprentices for real situations without losing machinery production time and materials or jeopardizing safety. It also enables educational institutions to overcome space and financial limitations and offer "hands-on" press training on larger-format presses. Those interested in participating in next year’s contest or in either the web or sheet press simulator may contact Christy Holstead, GATF’s training curriculums coordinator, by phoning 412/741-6860 extension 112, faxing 412/741-2311.