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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.

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By Mark A. Coudray

The older your equipment, or the longer it’s been in continuous service, the more problems you can have. I once tried to move an older drum scanner two miles on a road I drove everyday. No big deal, right? Wrong! After powering down a perfectly good scanner, in perfect running order, I was never able to bring it back up. The careless move had created thousands of tiny fractures to the circuit-board connections and other electronics. When the scanner would come up and online, it was only useful for a few minutes. As the temperature of the machine increased, the fissures expanded and caused all kinds of short circuits and other anomalies. It was a very, very expensive lesson.

I highly recommend you hire professional movers who are familiar with electronic equipment. This is not something you want to learn by doing. Besides the Air Ride trucks, skilled movers use forklifts with pneumatic tires and secure the equipment with padding to minimize vibration. They may even use special pallets with cushioned bumpers to minimize transport vibration.

And one more thing: Make sure you inform your insurance agent that you’re moving your production equipment. Make sure you have coverage for lost revenue in the event something is damaged. You can permanently cripple your business if you lose a critical piece of equipment. Let the insurance company know who is moving the equipment and to add the coverage riders necessary, given the added risk of the move.

Your insurance must be adequate enough to cover the replacement cost of the equipment if it is damaged beyond repair. Find out what the deductibles are in the event of a loss. Also keep in mind that some of the equipment we use today is no longer manufactured. Parts and technicians can be hard to find. Don’t wait until you need to call them to learn this lesson.


The tech transition

Thankfully, my shop’s big move was completely free of any kind of electronics problems. All of our scanners, imagesetters, printers, and computers made the move without a hitch. So did the newer CTS equipment. We installed filtered power for all the areas where we have delicate electronics, and each piece of equipment is on a dedicated circuit.

We also put together a properly engineered gigabit network with new Cisco routers and switches with Cat 5E wiring. What a difference in stability! Our old network was a cobbled together collection of old routers and multiple switches of 10-Mb, 100-Mb, and a few 1000-Mb devices—none of which was auto-sensing. We had to be really careful about what we connected. Throughput was always an issue, and file-transfer speeds were miserable, especially when the file sizes were greater than 100 MB, which they were quite frequently. The new network transfers 100-MB files in less than 10 seconds. Everything is auto-sensing, so there are no problems with mixed devices on the network.


Ready to make the move?

My advice, given the 15 months of construction on my new facility, is to hire a project manager who knows construction and what is BS and what isn’t. He looks out for your best interests. I learned that no matter how good your architects, engineers, and contractors are, a lack of communication between the parties leads to big problems. A project planner can help to reconcile all those loose ends and minimize the change orders and production snafus. My shop’s move is thankfully over. Now we can get down to business again.


Mark A. Coudray is president of Coudray Graphic Technologies, San Luis Obispo, CA. He has served as a director of the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association Int'l (SGIA) and as chairman of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology. Coudray has authored more than 250 papers and articles over the last 20 years, and he received the SGIA's Swormstedt Award in 1992 and 1994. He covers electronic prepress issues monthly in Screen Printing magazine. He can be reached via e-mail at


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