One of the most frequent calls I get is from printers who have had great success with process control but now find it slipping away from them as they drift back to old habits. In the grind of deadline production first successes can easily be forgotten. What causes process control projects to flounder and how can we get them back on track?
- Start from the top. Until management decides that process control is a priority on every job, it simply won’t happen. Even dedicated prep and press operators can’t make process control happen on their own. There must be a cast-iron mandate for process control from upper level management.
- Do the achievable first. Hitting all the numbers-solid lab values, overprint lab values, TVI and gray balance-can be overwhelming at first for operators used to running with outmoded seat of the pants methods. So start with what you’ve got. Get a sheet to density on every single job without exception. That won’t get the job done on it’s own but never mind. Find out why and move on.
- Set up regular accountability. It is important for all departments to meet and go over the results. What is working? What isn’t? Why not? And no scapegoats. Passing the buck and pointing fingers won’t work here. The point is to build a team.
- Expect difficulties. Yes, things will go wrong and there will be times when you will be tempted to chuck it and go back to seat-of-the-pants printing. Don’t do it. Nobody said this was going to be easy. Keep remembering those great looking press to proof matches you got every time you actually hit all the numbers.
- Have the tools. For goodness sakes, you aren’t going to make process control happen with a dusty old hand-held densitometer. Affordable tools now exist to scan full sheets in seconds and deliver the results to press and prep departments in real time. Get those tools now and learn how to use them!
I try to keep my posts informative and product promotion-free. If you are a buyer, brand owner or printer interested in the subject of color communication, please check out my other posts and browse my website for more information on achieving effective prep-press collaboration. If you would like to learn more about process control and brand color verification with pressSIGN, please click here.