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Survey Reveals Top Reasons for Plate Remakes on Sheetfed Presses

Press release from the issuing company

Pittsburgh, Pa., August 21, 2002 — Because plate remakes greatly interrupt workflow and decrease productivity, the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF) in partnership with the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) decided to conduct a survey to uncover the frequency and causes of plate remakes on sheetfed presses. The survey also examined how film-based and digital plate remakes differed. Twenty-nine companies participated in the survey, contributing combined data on approximately 55,100 plates (42,600 digital and 12,500 film-based). The participants were asked to choose from a list of 34 probable causes of plate remakes and record the causes for plate remakes for 30 consecutive days. They could also write in a unique cause. As suspected, the plate remake causes were significantly different between film-based and digital plate: Film-based Plates 1. plate wear (17.7%) 2. voids (8.1%) 3. register (6.6%) 4. plates not stored (6.2%) 5. changed press (5.5%) Digital Plates 1. damaged on press (9.1%) 2. customer change (8.8%) 3. processor malfunction (6.9%) 4. production planning (6.9%) 5. RIP problems (5.4%) The survey also revealed that, overall, 4.3 percent of plates are remade. Digital plates have a slight edge over film-based plates at 4.1 percent and 4.8 percent respectively. However, the range of plate remake percentages was quite large. The lowest percentage calculated on the data was 0.6 percent based on 1,700 plates per month by a label printer using a computer-to-plate workflow. The highest percentage was 42 percent on 429 plates per month by a folding carton converter imaging via film. Furthermore, if the company that suffered 42 percent plate remakes was removed from the survey, the average plate remake percentage for film-based plates drops to 3.4 percent, over a percentage point lower than digital plates. The survey has Bruce Tietz, a GATF technical consultant, wondering if the industry has in fact significantly reduced the number of plate remakes. Tietz presented the survey findings during the 10th annual GATF/NAPL Sheetfed Pressroom Conference, held June 2–4, 2002 at the Marriott O’Hare Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. "There is a dearth of historic plate remake information available. According to NAPL’s 1987 Waste and Spoilage Survey, the average plate remake percentage was over 7 percent. The 4.3 percent average reported in this latest survey is certainly an improvement but reflects statistics from a more educated printer, not the industry as a whole," comments Tietz. He refers to the fact that the survey was distributed to 200 people who were past attendees of the GATF/NAPL Sheetfed Pressroom Conference and GATF’s Continuous Improvement Network. "We suspect that companies that send people to conferences, especially one that focuses on quality issues, may experience fewer plate remakes than other companies." Additionally, Tietz points out that demographic and background questions showed this group to have significantly more CTP experience than average companies. For the complete statistics of the survey, contact Jim Workman, GATF’s director of training programs, by phoning 800/910-GATF extension 111 or emailing [email protected]