Turning Sustainability into Cash


Well-known member
Turning Sustainability into Cash
Your press may be costing you money

By Noel Ward, Editor@Large

It is always interesting to talk with people who do different things for a living. Builders, fishermen and ski patrollers, for example, spend most of their time outdoors and have different perspectives on climate change.

Sustainability: the greatest challenge of our time
Wading through the claims of the digital press makers, I wondered about the offset side, where most printing is still done. Knowing German press-maker Koenig & Bauer takes sustainability seriously, I reached out to Walter Chmura, VP of Technical Sales at K&B, to find out how companies running offset presses can make money while using environmentally sustainable practices. I’ve found Chmura to be a good source because he has spent time running a large press, knows the good and the bad, and can talk about what is going on without pushing product. He knows I need information and am not a candidate for an offset press.

Sustainability in Operation
According to Chmura, sustainability in the context of offset printing is a host of practices that help make printing businesses more sustainable, competitive, and profitable. In contrast, doing business as usual puts your company in the awkward position of being out of step with reality and decreasing its value.

Getting into some details, Chmura noted some areas K&B has focused on to promote sustainability on its presses, although some could apply to other modern offset presses. At K&B much of the technology that supports sustainability is built into the company’s Rapida line of presses. Two areas rising to the top include managing carbon dioxide (CO2) output and energy, plus a variety of operational practices such as wash up, plate changes, and automated printing. On the Rapida series, Chmura noted how sustainable production ensures that only a couple of people are required to run a press, while still providing shorter make-ready times and maximum output. This decreases substrate waste and energy consumption while reducing the resources required. The upshot for business owners is improved environmental management over the entire printing process that can translate into dollars saved per job.

Convergence: Digitalization and Sustainability
One thing that surprised me is how K&B uses digitalization, defined by Gartner Group as using digital technologies to highlight new revenue and add value-producing opportunities. For print shops, this means enabling presses to be more sustainable by operating more efficiently.

Imagine if you will, a six-color press automatically taking two spot colors offline because they won’t be needed for the rest of a job or the next one in the queue. On the Rapida product line a feature called DriveTronic inker declutching, automatically disengages a print station to take a color offline when it is no longer required on a job, reducing energy usage and wear on rollers. During the next make-ready, the plates are automatically removed, the new plates are installed, and the unused printing units rollers can be washed up using DriveTronic SRW while the current job is running, requiring much less wasted time during the make ready than a manual makes ready process. Such advantages are especially appealing as shorter runs become more common. Time being money, saving a few minutes on plate changes and wash ups across a shift or day shows up on one’s bottom line. It also makes a process more sustainable.

According to the sustainability pages of K&B’s website, K&B bases its sustainability stance on what it terms Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues (much like the social, environmental, and economic activities that often define sustainability), then extending this thinking to its presses. Having more than a passing interest in science, I pay attention to the relationship between scientific data and policy decisions. I thought it interesting that K&B is using science-based targets in formulating its environmental policies. This results in fact-based practices being set at the corporate level. For print providers it matters because sustainable practices are of rising importance for print shops and their customers. There are also parts of K&B’s policies that printers could integrate into their own operations. Some are environmentally related. Others are just good ways to run a business.

Why it all matters
As noted above, sustainability is the ongoing challenge of our time. It is up to everyone. Sustainability is also a very real business issue that can generate revenue now and in the future. As a print provider you can make smart use of the technologies available and adopt new ones when it makes sense. Start with small steps. From my quick dive into the issue, technologies and sustainable practices like those used by K&B are part of a solution. Companies like K&B can be essential partners by offering ways of making your operation more efficient, more sustainable, and more profitable.

I’ve been in enough shops and talked with enough business owners to know that if you don’t take advantage of the changes and opportunities that arise, a competitor will. They may even attract some of the the millennial and Gen-Z employees for whom sustainability is important. Look beyond the present: by making digitalization and sustainability part of business-as-usual your company will be worth more.


A 30-day Fix for Managed Chaos

As any print professional knows, printing can be managed chaos. Software that solves multiple problems and provides measurable and monetizable value has a direct impact on the bottom-line.

“We reduced order entry costs by about 40%.” Significant savings in a shop that turns about 500 jobs a month.

Learn how…….