An Offset Upgrade at Texas DOT
Thirty years is a long time to keep a press running—even a Heidelberg. But over the past three decades, the folks at the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) did their best to take care of their four-color Heidelberg MOVP perfector, even if it did cost them an average of $60,000 a year for repairs.
By 2013, though, the excessive paper waste and quality limitations of the old press had gotten to be too much, and Printing Services began its search for a replacement press. In February of this year, the 28-employee Austin-based in-plant installed a new four-color Ryobi 754G XL with an aqueous coater. Boasting CIP4 JDF capability and Ryobi’s PDF-E Spectro print density control system, the new press is a “quantum leap” forward for the operation, says Production Supervisor Art Garcia.
“When we pull the first sheet, almost every one has been in exact register,” he says. As a result, it takes only about 500 sheets to makeready a job. With the MOVP it took more like 2,000 sheets before jobs were registered and ready, he says.
“We’ve gone from … two-hour makereadies to a 25-30-minute makeready—and we’re shooting for 15,” remarks Tony Ortega, customer service representative.
This newfound efficiency has tremendously increased output. In just its first two months, the press has run more than 1 million impressions, Garcia says, pumping out long runs of brochures, booklets, posters, pocket folders and other four-color jobs. Requests for four-color work from the DOT and other Texas agencies are climbing, Garcia says, as are calls for aqueous coating. This is what prompted the in-plant to include aqueous capabilities on the press.
“There’s a market there, and it’s getting bigger,” Garcia notes.
The shop just finished a pocket folder with a satin aqueous coating on both sides and heavy black ink coverage that came out looking terrific, with no streaking at all, he says.
In adding this press, TXDOT becomes the third Texas in-plant this year to install a large offset press, following The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
TXDOT’s new Ryobi 754G XL can run up to 16,000 impressions per hour (iph), Garcia says, though so far the in-plant is averaging 11,500 iph. Still, this is a far cry from the top speed of the MOVP: 7,000 iph.
The larger sheet size (31.02x23.62˝) of the new press is also helping the in-plant get more work done.
“It allows us to go 81⁄2x11˝, six-up with bleeds,” Garcia says. “The VP was four-up with bleeds.”
Automation Slashes Makeready Time
The press’s automation features have drastically cut down on the time it takes to set up the press. It boasts automatic blanket and roller cleaning and semi-automatic plate changing. The CIP4-JDF capabilities allow the in-plant’s prepress department to send ink profiles right to the press, which sets ink keys automatically and adjusts for the proper sheet size and thickness.
Once printing starts, the PDS-E SpectroJet/SpectroDrive print density control system measures the color bar of a pulled sheet using a spectrophotometer and makes appropriate adjustments in the ink fountain keys.
To support the new press, the in-plant also upgraded to a new Epson proofer just prior to installation. It uses a Fujifilm Javelin 8300S computer-to-plate system to burn plates for the press.
In addition to cutting waste and repair costs, and improving quality, the new Ryobi press will enable Printing Services to bring work back into the in-plant that it had been outsourcing. Garcia anticipates a large influx of new TXDOT jobs, as well as an increase in work from other agencies.
“We can do work for any other government entity,” he says.
And thanks to the quality, consistency and productivity of the new press, the in-plant’s work now rivals the competition.
“We can compete with any commercial print shop,” proclaims Ortega.
Related story: New Five-color Press Keeps UTHealth Busy
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.