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The Consequences of Moving a Prepress Department

(May 2008) posted on Wed May 07, 2008

Thinking about moving your shop to a new facility? Coudray's advice can help you avoid some jams that you might not expect.


By Mark A. Coudray

Business has been good at my shop for the last two years. I decided after 24 years in the same location to move into a much bigger space. Finding a building big enough took almost five months, plus another 15 months with city planning, architects, contractors, delays, permits, and the assorted details that make construction such an unpleasant affair. I had truly forgotten just how distracting and aggravating a move can be. This month, I’d like to share with you some of the things that brought more balance and efficiency to the shop’s new screen-prep, coating, imaging, and reclaiming areas. I will also talk about some of the consequences of moving equipment to a new location—things we generally never think about until it is too late.

 

A fresh start

Our new facility is approximately 16,000 sq ft. We built 5000 sq ft of new production offices, imaging, reclaiming, and so forth. We had a blank canvas, so it was relatively easy to design exactly what would be the ideal production layout and workflow. Many of you have read about our transition to CTS over the last couple of years. That was a tremendous boost for us, but it led to other bottlenecks in the process. In production planning you quickly learn that unless you balance the entire system, you end up outstripping one area and burying another. That was the case with CTS. We were able to image so efficiently that it created bottlenecks in reclaiming while we turned the orders that had just been printed.

From the design perspective, I wanted to create a work-flow that was compact and circular. All of the coating and imaging happens in one room. The screens are racked and then rolled into the production staging area, where we stage them by press and position on the press. After printing, the screens are deinked and the tape is pulled off. We then return the screens to carts for the trip back to the reclaiming area, where we desolublize ink residue and strip emulsion. The screens are then retensioned if necessary and degreased before returning to the coating area for another round. We commonly reclaim screens completely within ten minutes of the job coming off press.


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