Troubleshooting on an offset press requires the pressman to have a thorough understanding of the entire process. In addition, the various sections of the press require a varied understanding of how it works. For example, the folder is a completely different animal than the printing units on a web press. Both however, are fraught with potential to cause problems. Here are some basic fundamental steps that will help a pressman to troubleshoot almost any problem on a printing press.
1. Stop And Think
While the machine is running at full speed and the copies are going right into the garbage is not a good time for this. Shut down. There’s too much pressure for the pressman to try and think clearly and in a constructive way. Consult with another pressman. Take a coffee break to clear your head. Sometimes sleeping on it is the only way to come to the right conclusion.
2. Analyze What Has Changed
Try to think back to when the problem started. Did you start a new batch of ink. Are you running a new type of paper, or perhaps a different shipment or position on the jumbo from the paper mill. If it’s a chemistry problem, could your water source have changed. Essentially, the pressman needs to review all of your raw materials and see if they had any impact.
In addition, the pressman must check settings. What adjustment have you made since the problem started? Do you have a record of settings that worked? Can you go back to these. A good lesson taken from this might be to make sure you keep a good log of settings that worked, whether it be for your folder, printing unit, roll stand etc.
3. Let The Printed Signature Tell The Story
Sometimes it’s a matter of examining consecutive copies. If it’s a folder problem, knowing your fold ratio between the cutting cylinder and your pin/tuck cylinders will reveal much. Do you notice a pattern? Is it consistent? Can you make it worse? How often does it happen? Problems become magnified with speed. Sometimes trying various speeds will help reveal the problem. Any pressman knows that scumming can come from many sources, examine it closely to see how it behaves.
4. A Good Pressman Draws On Support
Is it a chemistry problem. Call in your ink supplier. Is it related to paper? Call your paper rep. That is what you are paying these guys for. The cost of giving support is built into the price of the raw materials you pay for. Use it.
One thing is certain. When you find the problem, catalog it. Whether it be for yourself or for the next pressman on shift, you will save much headache for the next pressman when the problem arises again. Anyone that has good troubleshooting skills will never have a problem finding a job as a pressman.