The following information represents an ongoing proposal submitted by Thomas
Cabeen, Pressroom Overseer to the Factory Committee at 107 Adams St. factory of
the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in 1979. After much hesitation and
disbelief, it finally caught on that they would look very stupid for not taking
these steps which would result in the savings of millions of dollars to the
Watchtower. In reading the various stages of the proposal, especially the chart
towards the end, one can get a good idea what the books and magazines printed by
the Watchtower really cost them. At the time, the magazines were selling for 25
cents a copy. The markup was close to 500%. More of this story to come! Stay
tuned. Thanks to Tom Cabeen for allowing this information to be divulged, though
it has been in my possession for 17 years.
October 13, 1979
TO: FACTORY COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: A PROPOSAL FOR IMPROVING EFFICIENCY AND QUALITY
As our phototypesetting project progresses, we must make a decision soon about our printing methods. It seems that offset printing is most compatible with phototypesetting and other photographic prepress processes. Tests show that we will not be able to achieve the desired level of quality in any other way except by offset.
The big question still seems to be: Which is better for us, conversion of our MAN presses to offset, or purchasing new presses? In view of the large outlays of money involved, it is important that we make a wise decision.
It seems certain that offset printing is going to cost us, signature for signature, at least as much as letterpress printing. However, if we make a wise decision, we have the prospect of reducing our personnel needs, improving quality greatly, and allowing for future quality improvements without major equipment changes.
Converting our MAN presses to offset offers the possibility of using some of our present equipment. We have invested quite a lot of money into these MAN presses and it would be nice if we could recover it by conversion. But we should weigh this idea very carefully. Although it may seem less expensive in terms of capital outlay, there are some less obvious factors which should be considered.
One factor is the MAN folder design. All proposed conversion packages retain the present MAN folder. These folders are heavily built. The machining and finish is of high quality. Yet there are several problems with the folders which might affect our desire to connect them with new or redesigned printing units. Thes are:
1. Web width capability limitations
2 Cutoff length
3. Mechanical complexity
WEB WIDTH LIMITATIONS
MAN presses have 6 sets of impaling pins spaced approximately 2 7/8" apart. Harris presses, on the other hand, have 8 impaling pins spaced a maximum of 2 1/2" apart. This means that Harris presses can run a web of any width between 18" and 31s'. The minimum MAN chopfolded signature width without major folder modifications is 7". However, the Harris uses movable belts instead of pinchwheels. So we can run a chopfolded signature of any width between 9" and 15" (measured before folding).
The impaling pin configuration, plus the fact that the SUN press collects the sheets before folding, limits the web widths we can run through a MAN folder. If we run too much paper outside
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the impaling pins, the edges fold over. This tendency gets worse with thinner paper. The following table shows the limitations in web width on a MAN folder:
Outside pins 14 1/2!'15"
Web off center 11 5/8 " 12 1/2 n
Inside Pins 8 7/8"9 9/16"
This limited range of web widths can prevent a sizable paper saving. For example, if we can run a 26 1/2" roll to produce a 13 1/4" signature when running pocket-size books, instead of the 29" roll we use at present, we can save over 9% on paper. Last year's pocket book. production amounted to about 17.5 million books. At today's paper prices, that would mean a saving of about $150,000. Yet we cannot run a 13 1/4 n signature through a MAN folder without extensive modifications. This will continue to hold true if we convert to offset on MAN presses.
Another factor to consider is the cutoff difference between MAN and Harris. The cutoff on a MAN press is 19.685", compared to 19.375"on Harris. That 1.6% difference in cutoff also represents a sizable paper saving over a year's time. It would help to compensate for the higher cost of offset inks. The value of paper used on our letterpresses last year, at today's prices, is over $11,300,000. 1.6% of that represents a saving of over $180,000 annually.
Another factor we consider important is the tendency for misadjustment and mechanical problems on our MAN folders. The MAN folders are rather complex in design when compared with the Harris folders. A significant amount of downtime is spent on folder work. Due to the complicated nature of the adjustments required, it is more difficult to train operators and mechanics in troubleshooting, repair and adjustment.
Our new style MAN folders at Brooklyn are from 7 to 10 years old. Mechanical problems are beginning to show up on more and more of them. Our relatively inexperienced men have trouble correcting them. So we have quite a lot of nonproductive down time on our presses which is directly attributable to folder problems. This factor takes on additional significance when viewed in the light of the fact that it will take 3 to 4 years at a minimum to convert the MAN presses to offset. These folders will be more worn by that time unless we planned to do costly complete overhauls, replacing all worn parts in the folders as each press was converted.
ANALYSIS OF PRINTING COSTS
A breakdown of printing costs on letterpresses and offset presses helps point out how we could change to offset printing while maintaining relatively low costs. It also illustrates how conversion compares with purchasing new machinery in terms of waste efficiency. The cost to produce 1,000 signatures on different
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press packages is presented on an accompanying chart. You will notice that we assumed that offset presses will run higher waste on magazines than MAN presses. We feel that this may be true because of utilizing offset's greater potential in terms of coverage and image quality. So the waste figures given are for process jobs run on our Harris presses. (My Book of Bible Stories) Harris offers equipment that they claim reduces such waste drastically, but since we have not tried this equipment, we used the figures from our Harris presses.
Notice also that if we run the presses on two shifts, the decreased production costs make the total costs on offset about the same as on letterpress, despite the higher waste. Also observe that on converted MAN presses, the greater paper waste due to the above-mentioned folder limitations makes paper costs per 1,000 signatures higher than on Harris presses.
Figures for conversion packages are given with two different waste percentages. One is the same as Harris, the other is our estimate on a converted MAN press. Since these presses will not have dryers, we feel that the need for shutdowns for cleaning will push the waste higher, to at least 158.
In view of the facts just presented, we feel it would be a mistake to try to keep our MAN folders and to convert the MAN presses to offset printing. It would be more economical and offer better quality potential to purchase new presses and new folders.
A PROPOSAL FOR CHANGEOVER TO OFFSET
We propose the following packages to handle all our printing at Brooklyn and Watchtower Farms. They offer, we believe, the greatest potential for quality and productivity for the least expenditure, and offer greatly reduced personnel requirements. This proposal is based on the production load for Brooklyn and the Farm over the last 12 months.
At Brooklyn, we would recommend these changes:
1. Add two printing units to Harris 1
2. Purchase 2 additional printing units for Harris 2
3. Purchase 1 additional 4-unit Harris M120 press
We would plan on running the two 6-unit presses on two shifts if necessary, depending on the workload. The 4-unit press would run on one shift nearly all of the time and be used mainly for Bible printing, filling in with book printing as necessary. The new press would have the same folder and general configuration as our Present Harris presses, including Tec dryer and Martin splicers.
The total cost for the basic package at Brooklyn would be:
1. Two units for Harris 1 on hand
2. TWO units for Harris 2 $ 192,632
3. One 4-unit Harris M120 852,480
TOTAL AT BROOKLYN $1,045,112
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Afterburners, if needed, would add about S150,000 maximum to the price. A cross-bursting device, which would allow us to use our presses in conjunction with our new Harris burst binder, is to be released soon for the Harris press. When the price is available, we will request a quote. But we can order this option with the press we order for Brooklyn and also install it on our present presses soon.
If we decide to print process color jobs in quantity, we would also recommend purchasing Harris' Telecolor device to reduce startup waste, along with the accompanying Densicontrol device, which preadjusts the ink keys automatically. These presses should also be equipped with digital register devices. Presses to be used on book printing will need a Stobb bundling machine.
The cost for these options is:
1. Telecolor for two 6-unit presses $158,964
2. Densicontrol for 6-unit presses 85,000
3. Digital register devices 50,086
4. Stobb bundling machines 60,000
TOTAL FOR OPTIONS AT BROOKLYN $354,050
Personnel requirements at Brooklyn with this package would be as
1. Press crews for 6-unit presses
on two shifts 16 men
2. Press crew for 4-unit press on
one shift 4 men
3. Floor overseers (1 per shift) 2 men
4. Maintenance men (1 on second shift)
includes stock man for Bklyn, WTF) 4 men
5. Platemakers (1 on second shift) 3 men
6. Overseer and secretary 2 men
TOTAL PERSONNEL AT BROOKLYN 31 men
These 31 men would replace 98 men in the Rotary Pressroom, 6 men in Plate, 1 on the Mat press, and 1 on Magnesium etching, for a total of 105. However, 4 or 5 additional strippers would be needed in Photoplate. So the net reduction in personnel required would be about 70 men.
At Watchtower Farms, we recommend purchasing three 6-color Harris M120 presses without double parallel assemblies in their folders. To give us process color capability on our magazines, we recommend that these presses be equipped with Telecolor and Digital register devices. The cost for these presses so equipped would be as follows:
1. Three 6-color Harris M120 presses $3,098,409
2. Options for process ink and register 398,575
TOTAL AT WATCHTOWER FARM $3,496,984
Afterburners to control pollution, if desired, would add about S150.000 maximum to this price.
two of these three presses would run regularly on 2 shifts. The other would regularly run on one shift and would serve as a buffer in case of breakdown or schedule difficulties. Of course,
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if necessary we could run any or all of the presses on three shifts. All of these presses would have the same configuration as those at Brooklyn, except for parallel fold capability. All would be equipped with Tec dryers.
Personnel requirements to run these presses are as follows:
1. Press crews for two presses on
two shifts 20 men
2. Press crew for one press on one
shift 5 men
3. Floor overseers (one per shift) 2 men
4. Maintenance men (one on 2nd shift) 4 men
5. Platemakers (day shift only) 2 men
6. Overseer 1 man
TOTAL PERSONNEL AT WATCHTOWER FARM 34 men
NEED FOR URGENCY
If we make recommendation to the Publishing Committee immediately, we can take advantage of a temporary lull in Harris press production to put our offset program into effect sooner. If we order by the first week in November, we can receive delivery of our first press by about June of 1980. That would produce the following changeover program:
January 1980 Install 2 units on Harris 1 Begin 2nd shift on Harris 2
March 1980 Start 2nd shift on Harris 1 if needed
June 1980 Delivery of 4-unit press to Bklyn
October 1980 Delivery of 1st 6-unit press to WTF
February 1981 Delivery of 2nd press to WTF
June 1981 Delivery of 3rd press to WTF
August 1981 Delivery of 2 units to Bklyn
Harris feels they can maintain the above delivery schedule. That would also fit well into our training program capabilities. If necessary, Brooklyn could train or supply men for Watchtower Farms to assure that they have qualified personnel to operate their new presses as they are delivered.
HOW DOES CONVERSION COMPARE WITH PURCHASING NEW PRESSES?
If we can successfully convert a MAN press to offset, and the converted presses run as reliably as our Harris presses, we will need a total of 22 such converted presses to carry our present printing load. Such converted presses would require splicers to improve their productivity and reduce waste. Assuming the cost of the conversion package at $250,000 (including splicer) the total capital investment would be $250,000 for the first press. Then, a year later, after testing, and assuming that all went well, the cost would be up to $280,000 per press (at 12% inflation per year).
The cost to convert the remaining 21 presses would then be up to $5,880,000, for a total investment of $6,130,000. The total cost
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for the Harris package is substantially less than that.
If we decided to run the MAN presses on two shifts, only 11 presses would need to be converted, for a total cost of $3,050,000. That would be cheaper than buying Harris presses. However, the higher printing costs on the MAN presses mean that they lose between $300,000 and $850,000 per year over the Harris in printing costs. mostly in paper waste.
Another factor to remember is that, although the MAN presses, if successful, will be at the very limit of their capability, the Harris package, on the other hand, offers far greater capability in range of products and possibilities for improvement.
Since it is so hard to project productivity or waste on any conversion package until it is run in a production situation, we can't really tell what we will get with a MAN conversion package until we test it under those conditions. Our estimates are based on the possibility that the press will perform excellently. But before we invest millions of dollars, it will be necessary to test any proposed conversion in a production situation for at least 6 months at the very minimum. That means that the time needed to effect a conversion would be prolonged for at least one year. If problems are encountered and must be overcome, it could extend even longer.
On the other hand, we know the capabilities of our Harris presses. We know we can run them with relatively inexperienced men. We know their waste and quality potential. Their design is proven and reliable. There are dozens of these presses in use in the field, and the manufacturer has parts in good supply and a reliable service organization to back up their product.
Assuming all went well, though, how long would conversion take? Assuming 6 months for the first in a series of conversions and one month for subsequent conversions, here is a projected schedule:
June 1980 Conversion of 1st press completed
Dec 1980 Testing of 1st press completed
June 1981 Conversion of 2nd press completed
July 1981 " " 3rd " "
March 1982 " " 11th " "
Feb 1983 " " 22nd " "
Note that the Harris conversion would be completed by the same time that the 3rd MAN press was converted.
What about personnel? There is no doubt that converting MAN presses would also mean a reduction in personnel. But due to the uncertainty as to the efficiency and the performance of MAN folders on offset presses, we feel that the MAN package will require a minimum of 10% more personnel than the Harris package. And of course, the reduction in personnel requirements would come about over a much longer time.
In summary: Harris presses offer the most realistic possibilities
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for changing to offset printing while maintaining our present printing costs. MAN conversions will require at least the same capital investment, take much longer to accomplish, and require more personnel than a Harris package in conjunction with a double shift. A MAN conversion package will offer little improvement in printing capability, and will not offer upgrading possibilities. Such presses will be at the very limits of their improvement possibilities.
The Harris package we propose only requires that 12 men work at night at Watchtower Farm and 11 at Brooklyn. And it offers full 4-color capability if that is desired in the future. And if we desire to continue with 2-color printing, it offers even lower production costs that those presented. After much prayerful and careful consideration, the Pressroom highly recommends that we adopt this proposal.
Thank you for your attention.
cc: L. Swingle
February 19, 1979
FACTORY COMMITTEE. c/o M. Larson, Coordinator
RE: Our Printing Capabilities
We in the Pressroom are concerned with the quality of our printing. We also know that press conversions have been proposed and are under consideration. To contribute to an accurate picture of our present situation and future possibilities, we have prepared this report for the benefit of you and the Publishing Committee.
The present situation in the Pressroom requires attention. We are unable to maintain printing quality on much of the artwork which is approved for publication. Even after many hours spent on makeready, we are unable to achieve good quality printing on this type of artwork. Our new papers and Nyloprint plates have not improved the situation. To date, we have as much trouble maintaining quality on Nyloprint as we do on stereo plates. Our new papers require heavy impression to print well.
The following report outlines our efforts to improve the quality to date. It presents a picture of our present capabilities and what we can realistically expect from press changes that have been proposed.
We also present facts about our present productivity on our MAN presses in comparison with our Harris presses. We compare the overall waste on both types of presses. The results may be used to compare the economic feasibility and practicality of proposed press changes. We feel that these facts should bear heavily on decisions being made now as to alterations to our MAN presses.
OUR PRESENT SITUATION
The last couple of years have seen some changes in our printing operations. As a result, we have a much better idea of our limitations and capabilities.
Due mainly to our Photoplate department, more complicated artwork is within our ability to prepare. Such artwork is now used regularly, particularly in our magazines, which have even changed their format to lend themselves to wider use of artwork.
In the last year we have moved into offset printing. We have learned much about this printing method, and printing in general.
Inexperience has been a problem we have had to face. Since January of 1976, over 120 men have left the Pressroom. Many of our more experienced MAN operators have been trained as overseers and to work on the offset presses. Most of our present operators have been at Bethel less than two years. We have tried to adjust to this situation with new training programs.
Our main problems on the MAN presses now are printing capability and productivity. Our main printing problems are with magazines.
We have been matting for some time off flat zinc and magnesium plates to produce more level stereo plates. Plate levelness has improved, but evenness of appearance has been a problem. We must still do makeready to produce
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We must still use relatively heavy impression to reduce streaking and smearing the ink in the folder. This is time consuming and reduces press productivity.
EFFORTS To IMPROVE PRINTING ON STEREO PLATES
To reduce time spent on changeovers, we have tried new packing elements. We have used limited amounts of Kimlon compressible packing for years, but increased interest in Nyloprint after we bought the WoodHoe press initiated many experiments so we would be ready to print on the new press.
In the last year we have used Kimlon and other compressible packings for most of the jobs we ran here in Brooklyn, with good results. We have reduced changeover time and improved the quality of printing. We can more easily train new man to use these packings, too.
We have had to learn to use plastic packing elements on our letterpresses. 13C Spherekote, which we used on color and #2 Black impression cylinders for many years, is no longer available, and we needed a cover with an oil barrier to keep the packing from getting soaked with oil wiper oil. So we used a piece of polyester under the 15D tympan cover which replaced 13C. The result was better printing, since we could increase printing pressure and reduce embossing. The polyester bridges the spaces between images and produces sharper printing.
We are still experimenting with various packing materials. Some show promise in terms of packing life and price, but we do not expect to find a packing material to use with stereo plates that will allow us to put the plates on the press and run them without impression adjustment. Even when Plates are even, larger images require more impression to print well.
In spite of these improvements, the trend in artwork has been more than we could cope with in many cases. Artwork looks bad when we exceed the limitations of our present equipment. As always, the two things that give us the most trouble are detail and overprint.
Detailed artwork in any medium; screens that are too fine, detailed pen and ink work, halftones with subtle tone variations, lose much in prepress and printing operations.
Since our presses are not equipped with oven-type dryers, we must rely largely on impression to control streaking of the freshly printed ink. We force the ink into mechanical adhesion with the paper. Chemical driers added to the ink do not dry fast enough to improve the situation. Setoff is a major problem on our MAN presses. Impression needed to reduce streaking causes loss of detail in the printing. It also speeds plate wear.
Overprint is another problem. When one layer of ink must be applied over another, the drying problem may be more than we can handle. We must remove impression from the color plates to reduce the amount of color ink applied to the paper, and heavily impress the black to force it into the paper. In the process, we may heavily emboss the paper, or black or color ink may strike through it. We may control streaking by these means, but we alter the appearance of the artwork. Often the results look poor in spite of our efforts.
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To sum up, our stereo letterpresses have limited capability in spite of improvements in prepress and printing procedures. Much of the artwork we try to print is really beyond our capability. The result is poor printing. Although we may be able to produce a few acceptable office copies, we cannot consistently maintain high quality throughout a long run. And good quality comes at the expense of much makeready time, which reduces the productivity of the presses.
WILL NYLOPRINT IMPROVE QUALITY?
The last year has taught us much about Nyloprint. We know that Nyloprint plates can hold a good image. But the plates are sensitive to impression. Heavy impression distorts the image. To date we have not been able to print a good quality image on Nyloprint on our MAN presses except by an experimental dry offset process, and by letterpress on coated paper in sheet form.
The Beach saddles on MAN 20 may be too uneven to produce low impression printing. Unable to achieve good print quality with low impression, we have been using Nyloprint on MAN 20 in much the same way as stereo plates, with about the same amount of impression. The results show that unless we can achieve good image quality by low impression, Nyloprint will not improve print quality over stereo. Some images do not look as good on Nyloprint as on stereo, since stereo plates can withstand heavier impression without losing image quality. The Nyloprint plates lose as much or more quality in the Plate-to-Paper ink transfer as the stereo plates do in prepress operations.
Since we have not yet achieved good image quality with light impression in a production situation, we cannot determine conclusively whether light impression printing on Nyloprint will necessitate oven-type dryers. But all our tests indicate that streaking will be a problem with light impression printing. On our experimental dry offset tests on MAN 28, we did achieve good ink transfer and good print quality, but streaking was a problem. "Quick Set" offset inks did not help. We only ran the press at 4,000 IPH and had no overprint al all. Smoother or coated papers, which promise to improve image quality, will be even harder to print on without streaking.
Extensive testing does not seem to indicate that we can develop an ink that will dry on our new papers without oven-type dryers. We have performed tests on Harris 2 by putting "Quick Set" ink in the fountain and running the press without the dryer or chills operating. We could not control streaking even at low speeds. Considerable testing on all our presently used papers offers no promise in this area.
Unless we can make a press print with light impression with Nyloprint plates, and control streaking of the ink, we gain little quality from Nyloprint.
WILL OUR NEW PAPERS IMPROVE QUALITY?
Our new papers are much whiter and do not turn yellow when exposed to sunlight. They are stronger and have a nice feel to them. Because of this, they improve the appearance of our publications.
From a printability standpoint, though, the new papers do not increase our printing capability. Some things do not print as well on our new papers as they did on newsprint and groundwood papers. Since the new papers are less absorbent than newsprint, halftones and detailed artwork look slightly crisper on the new paper, but solid areas to not look as even.
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The harder surface of the new papers require much heavier impression to control streaking and smearing. This reduces plate life. Plate life at Watchtower Farm is about 500,000 impressions for plates with artwork, about 750,000 impressions for plates with type only.
In tests on our Harris presses, though, the new papers, basically offset papers, print well. The image quality is good, ink receptivity is good, and they ran well on the presses in tests.
WHAT ABOUT DRYING?
A serious consideration of our future needs should include attention to one of our main problems, ink drying. A quote from Inland Printer of Nov. 1978, Page 60, is of interest:
"Except for the very lowest of printing quality levels, ink on paper must be set or dry before the printed sheet or web of paper can be further processed. We all know the pitfalls of handling a press sheet with ink that has not completely dried. Offsetting, smearing, scuffing these are some of the problems resulting from processing wet press sheets. Also, the rate at which the ink dries is frequently the controlling factor as to the running speed of the press.
"Ink drying techniques may be grouped into two very broad categories that can be described as passive and forced. Passive drying can occur in several ways, such as absorption, evaporation or oxidation. Very simply, absorption means that the ink dries by being absorbed by the paper. For absorption to work effectively, a porous paper such as newsprint, uncoated text or cover paper is required. A coated sheet or an uncoated sheet with a hard surface is not able to absorb ink adequately."
Dryers are used with chill rolls as a "package". The same article explains why: "It should be noted that all web press applications of heat responsive forced drying methods also require the use of chill rolls. Chill rolls perform a dual function: They cool the heated web of paper after it leaves the dryer, and they aid the setting of the inks. In addition, chill rolls can help maintain web tension and feed the web into the delivery system.
Graphic Arts Monthly of September, 1978, page 146, adds some interesting details:
"Heatset inks dry be being subjected to high-velocity hot air or flame impingement as the web passes through the dryer. The heat causes the solvent to evaporate from the ink, and the high-velocity air breaks up the laminar flow of the solvent, which wants to follow the web. Once most of the solvent has left the ink, it is now ready to be dried. Actually, the word heatset is a misnomer, because, even though the ink by not has very little solvent left in it, it is still quite tacky. This is because the resin is thermoplastic and has been heated above its melting point. Thus, when the heatset ink emerges from the dryer, it remains wet until it hits the chill roll, when its molten resin is cooled to its solidifying point, below 80° F."
What about infrared drying? Infrared drying for web presses is rather new in the printing industry. According to the January, 1979 issue of American Printer, there are only 18 web presses in the U.S. equipped with infrared dryers. Of these, 16 are used to print single color, mostly text, with black ink on uncoated paper. The infrared units are used to soften the
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ink and accelerate its absorption into the paper.
Infrared drying differs from conventional heatset drying in that the ink is responsive to the frequencies of radiant energy emitted by the electrically powered heating elements of the dryer. This speeds drying and less solvents are needed in the ink. So pollution is cut down somewhat. Web temperatures are in the same range as standard dryers, though, and chill rolls are required. Infrared dryers are slightly smaller than gas fired dryers, although the overall length is about the same. Operating costs are reported to be slightly higher than with gas fired dryers.
Forced drying by any means offers several important advantages from a printing standpoint. It allows heavy ink coverage necessary to print color and black inks one over the other. It allows for light impression needed to print detailed artwork with a minimum of distortion. Light impression produces the best quality printing, as well as lengthening plate and machine life. Forced drying also allows higher web speeds, and so increases production. Ink buildup in the folder is greatly reduced. Such buildup causes fold problems.
Our Harris presses have given us a good idea of the pros and cons of forced drying. A dryer/chill roll package represents a fairly sizable investment, but they are relatively maintenance free. We initially had some problems with air pollution, but most of them have been resolved since we developed low-smoke inks.
OUR OFFSET PRESSES
The decision to purchase two web offset presses appears to have been a wise one. The last year has taught us much about the advantages of offset printing. We have run over 42 million signatures on offset. We have trained many new men to work on these presses. In spite of mechanical problems and inexperienced crews, these presses have proved very productive. More importantly, the print quality is excellent. Little time is spent getting jobs ready to run. Overprint and detail print well. The presses can hold register closely due to the short web travel between printing stations. Our only limitation on our offset presses is paper smoothness. Although Nyloprint is only rated to 133 lines per inch, offset can hold a screen as fine as 300 lines per inch. Plate costs on offset presses are low, averaging from two to seven dollars per plate. A plate can be made in as little as ten to fifteen minutes.
The offset presses are versatile, as well. They show promise in areas other than just offset lithography. We printed signatures recently by the "dry offset" method, sometimes called letterset, using Nyloprint plates. This process is more expensive than offset lithography due to higher plate costs, and detail is not quite as good, but BASF, who manufactures Nyloprint, claims run lengths in excess of 15 million impressions with Nyloprint on offset presses. This process would be practical for us mainly if we had long runs or if we could cut running waste substantially by using Nyloprint plates, thus avoiding the need to maintain ink/water balance as with offset lithography. Relief plates, though, will probably wear the blankets on long runs. So blanket costs will probably have to figure into cost comparisons between letterset and offset lithography.
Direct lithography is another process we have tried recently. After running successful tests, we intend to run magazine jobs on the Harris Presses as the schedule allows. These jobs will require laying down one
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color by direct lithography and two colors by offset lithography. We are sure the quality will be acceptable. But plate life is still a question. When we begin running magazine jobs on the Harris presses, we will find out how long the plates will last. If this process proves practical, it will make our presses much more versatile. We could, for example, print 4 colors over 2 on one web and 1 over 1 on the other web, using only four printing units. With five units, we could print 3 over 1 on two units and 4 over 2 on the other three units. This would add versatility to our publication layout possibilities..
OUR PRESENT PRODUCTIVITY AND WASTE
A study of 30 book and Bible jobs (involving 224 changeovers and 85,500 hours), 22 magazine jobs (involving 264 changeovers and 13,800 hours), and 6 offset jobs (involving over 75 changeovers and 2,200 hours) reveals some interesting facts about waste and productivity here at Brooklyn and Watchtower Farms.
On Bible presses, we spend an average of 25 hours on each changeover. That's about 70% of our total production time. Our total productivity on Bible presses is about 2,800 signatures per hour.
On short run book jobs (under 20,000) we spend an average of 10 hours on each changeover. Our productivity is about 1,000 signatures per hour. Long run book presses average about 5,700 signatures per hour.
Short run magazine presses average about 1,300 signatures per hour. Long run magazine presses (over 20,000 per issue) average 8,100 signatures per hour.
Our offset presses average 2.75 hours per changeover and average about 17,200 impressions per hour.
Productivity is figured by dividing the total number of good signatures produced by the total number of hours charged against the job. To improve productivity, we must reduce changeover time, run the presses faster, or both. Short run presses become more productive mostly by reducing changeover time. Long run presses become more productive mostly by increasing press speed and reducing in run downtime.
The overall waste on most of our letterpresses is rather high. This is due in part to shorter runs, but probably is due mostly to inexperienced operators using too much paper to line up jobs. We have significantly reduced makeready time by using compressible packing materials, which has kept these figures from being even higher, especially on Bible jobs.
The lowest waste on our letterpresses was on long run magazine jobs. The average over a six-month period was 6.5%. We generally keep track of running waste only rather than total waste, including lineup and running waste. These figures represent total waste. Our highest waste was on short run magazine presses. It averages 34%. Bible jobs average 25%, short run books 26%, long run books 14.4%.
The overall waste on all the "Bible Stories" book jobs run to date is 15%. If we don't figure in the first job on Harris 1, when we were Learning to run the press, it averages 13.4%. On the Japanese edition, which ran 500,000 copies, it was 9.8%.
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With these figures in mind, proposed changes to our presses should be made with a view to increasing productivity as well as improving printing quality and capability.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
To plan wisely for the future, we need to know now what we want our publications to look like in coming years. Will the present trend in artwork continue? Where will it lead? Once this decision is made by the Governing Body or their representatives, we can find the most practical and economical way to produce the desired level of quality.
We cannot substantially change the printing quality on our MAN presses without major equipment changes. But improving overall productivity would also seem like a goal if we change our equipment.
As a result of our tests to date, we can realistically project what equipment changes will do for us in terms of print quality as well as productivity. Then we can analyze the real cost of any large-scale conversion. Of course, the more productive new or modified presses are, the fewer presses need be converted.
An accompanying chart entitled "Equipment Options" gives a breakdown of what changes in our equipment would offer. The chart illustrates the effects of changes in two main areas printing capability and productivity. Based on our present press use, an estimate of how many converted or new presses we would need is included. These estimates are based on our productivity studies for about three months, and are fairly accurate. But we could estimate our needs more accurately if needed, by studying our production for a year or more.
Estimates for productivity of converted presses are based on present productivity on our letterpresses and offset presses. MAN presses converted to Nyloprint are assumed to need little makeready (although we have not been able to do this to date on production jobs), so estimated productivity increases are derived from combining MAN production time with Harris changeover time. All MAN presses with driers are assumed to run at 15,000 impressions per hour, and to need splicers, since changing rolls would create problems on a press with a dryer. High speed presses assume Harris capability.
Quality estimates are based on present capabilities on our Harris and MAN/Nyloprint presses.
Please note that the number of presses that would need to be changed to carry the present load assumes that we would change our presses entirely to a new process. In actuality, that may not be needed or practical. Some presses might be changed in one way and others in other ways. The production of the WoodHoe press is not considered in these estimates, since there is at present no way to project its productivity or quality.
A PROPOSAL FOR PRESS CONVERSION
Here is one proposal that illustrates the use of several types of press conversions for different types of printing.
Our main printing problems at present are with magazines. So a press conversion proposal should first consider the needs in that area.
Printing Capabilities Page 8
The English Watchtower run is about 3,250,000. The Awake run is about 3,180,000. That averages just under 3,000,000 magazines per week. A Harris press can average about 145,000 impressions per shift. (We did it on Harris 1 for two months last fall.) Four such presses could run 3,000,000 magazines a week. So they could handle all the English magazine needs.
How many high speed presses would be needed to run the remaining magazines? A Harris press can run about 764,000 magazines a week. The Spanish magazine runs are around 1,000,000, One press could not handle this load, but two presses would handle it and have time to run another half million magazines, 250,000 apiece. All the other Watchtower runs combined total less than 140,000 copies. They could all be run on the Spanish Watchtower press. All the other Awake runs total about 165,000, so they could be run on the Spanish Awake press. So 6 high speed presses could handle the Farm's magazine load. Bear in mind that these figures are based on production during our first year of operation. With more experience, our productivity will grow and waste will be reduced.
What about conversion here at Brooklyn? Over 80% of our production time is spent on books and Bibles. Magazines account for only about 10% of our production time. We could possibly carry the load for magazine production, as well as some songbooks, written reviews, and talk outlines, on our Harris presses. This would depend on offset jobs planned for the future and the rate of translation of "my" books and brochures.
Over half of the book jobs we run here in Brooklyn are already set up for stereo production, either as plates in vaults, or as casting mats in the Rotary Plate Department. Since our present MAN presses can easily run these jobs, there doesn't seem to be a need to change the majority of our presses over to anything else right now. Our major printing problems come from magazine printing. As new books are prepared for printing, many of them could be prepared for offset. As our offset presses were loaded to capacity with work, one press at a time could be converted to offset until most jobs were run on offset. With that approach, we could still get good years of production out of our MAN presses without need for major expenditures to convert them. Of course, if the WoodHoe press proves productive and practical for short runs, it is possible that one more press here at Brooklyn, either a new offset press or a MAN converted to offset, could handle all our printing needs for quite some time.
Right now we can test virtually any proposed conversion possibility under a production situation. We have the equipment available to test many possible combinations oŁ printing methods, papers, use of dryers, special inks, etc. We strongly recommend such tests before a final decision is made as to the best approach to changes in our equipment. Even if it means delaying the decision somewhat, we feel that evaluating proposed changes under production circumstances will avoid later disappointment.
We are happy to help in any way possible to evaluate the possibilities as well as to make needed tests. May Jehovah bless our efforts to print Bibles and other publications needed to acquaint others with Bible truth and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
October 23, 1979
RE: ESTIMATE FOR WORLD OFFSET CHANGEOVER
Dear Brother Swingle:
Here is the information you requested about the cost for changing to offset printing in our printing branches.
The figures are based entirely on what we presently print at each printing location. If we want to redistribute some of our printing, costs wouldn't change too much.
The press packages presented on the chart are based on the number of different issues printed in each country and the run lengths. We could possibly design a better package for some locations if we knew what other work is done or will be done in each branch. For example, if a branch is to print books, that might influence whether they need a web press or a sheetfed press. But still, overall costs would not change substantially.
Two sets of figures are given for the offset changeover. One set assumes two-color printing on every page of a 32-page magazine. (Indicated by 2/2 on the chart.) Sixteen or 24-page editions would not substantially alter the picture. The other set of figures assumes capability to print 4 colors on half the pages of a 32-page magazine, and 2 colors on the other half. (Indicated by 4/2 on the chart.)
Most sheetfed presses in a size that is practical for magazine printing are 28" X 40" or half that (20 1/2" X 29 1/8"). This includes Miller, Planeta and Heidelberg. This will require that magazines printed on such presses be trimmed 1/4 n narrower than at present. (6 7/8" X 9 3/16" instead of 7 1/8" X 9 3/16".) The smaller size is not noticeable, and will actually save us much paper, especially if we trim the magazines we print on web presses to the same size.
Heidelbergs were chosen for sheetfed applications. They are extremely well built, easy to operate and have excellent service and parts organizations. They hold their value well over many years. We assumed that the presses would run at 808 efficiency (including changeovers) which is what we average here at Brooklyn on our sheetfed offset presses.
Sheetfed presses require folders, stitchers and perhaps sheeters as a package. But they offer extremely low waste, great versatility and high print quality. Manpower requirements for a sheet
Lyman Swingle October 23, 1979 Page 2
fed press package are generally equal to or less than for webfed press packages.
Harris presses were chosen for webfed applications. Their 19 3/8" cutoff is ideal for us. They are versatile as well, and are more productive than presses that collect sheets in their folders, such as the German Koenig & Bauer and the Japanese TKS. Although Harris presses are not built as heavily as the German and Japanese presses, they should last us many years. They are easy to work on, extremely versatile and relatively easy to learn.
The chart shows each printing location, the number of different magazines printed there, the total weekly printing requirements and the cost to purchase printing equipment. Price quotes are from September 1979 for Heidelberg presses and from October 1979 for Harris. The cost for platemaking and other support equipment is listed separately.
Next to each press package description is a percentage which shows how much of the normal production capacity is used to carry the printing load. That can help you see how printing might be consolidated for better efficiency, and how fully the equipment will be used. For example, note that the web presses in Italy as well as Switzerland are loaded to less than half their normal capacity. That could mean that it might be better to consolidate the printing in one location. Or it might mean that we could print books on those presses, as well as magazines. Or it might mean transferring printing from another location to help "fill up" the capacity of the presses.
You will notice that the large capacity of the Harris presses make certain proposed changes unnecessary. For example, all the present printing load in the British Isles can be easily handled by one Harris press. That may make it unnecessary to establish a printery in the Netherlands, which is planned at present so as to relieve London Bethel of the heavy printing burden of Dutch magazines.
I should stress that it would be best if these factors could be studied by someone with access to facts about local situations which might influence our overall printing goals. Mailing costs, import duty, paper availability and other items should be considered before we finally settle on a specific package for each branch. But overall changeover costs will remain much the same as those presented here.
A list of presses considered in this study along with their costs and production potentials is included. It may be helpful to you. If there are any questions, please call me.
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