SpencerLab Digital Color Laboratory

Digital Press Benchmarks: Availability & Actual Production White Paper

The SpencerLab Digital Color Laboratory is excited to announce the release of a white paper summarizing the results of a unique benchmarking study of digital press Availability and Actual Production time – perhaps the first of its kind. The white paper is available by free download from the SpencerLab website.

Digital presses are increasingly able to produce very high print quality, as SpencerLab's print quality analyses continue to demonstrate. Although having print quality over-the-bar for the targeted applications remains Priority One (and required to be competitive), maximizing Actual production time – the time actually spent printing sellable pieces – is becoming a pivotal issue in the value of a press. Higher operational Availability – the percentage of Actual production time to its Potential – equates to a higher Return-on-Investment with its associated financial advantages.

In spite of its considerable importance, meaningful benchmarks of digital press Availability have not emerged. SpencerLab undertook the challenge with support from Xerox. After intensive research, SpencerLab defined specific metrics and determined it was necessary to measure and collect these data daily over a period of time to accurately measure the Availability. SpencerLab developed the methodology, performed on-site training of appropriate staff, and monitored compliance with data acquisition procedures.

The methodology enables press personnel, even in high-productivity commercial press environments, to collect the metric data without competitive bias (and without noticeably impacting their own productivity). It then allows quantitative determination of the two key components of Availability – the Potential and the Actual production time.

''With print quality becoming less of a differentiator among commercial digital presses, Availability and Actual Production time – that can be spent on printing sellable output – take on increased importance,'' said Catherine Fiasconaro, Vice President of Operations and Director of SpencerLab. ''Through the reduction of setup, maintenance, service time, etc., the net increase in Availability offers print providers increased opportunity, competitiveness, and profit.''

For this initial implementation of Availability benchmarking, SpencerLab partnered with one typical commercial print install site per press. Metrics data was collected by the press operators for a period of four calendar weeks, reviewed and analyzed by SpencerLab. Among the evaluated commercial presses, the Xerox iGen4 achieved the highest machine Availability, notably outperforming an HP Indigo 5500 and an HP Indigo 7000, as detailed in the white paper. It is understood that these results may not represent the general population of press installs; however, they do provide insight into the Availability and Actual Production time of the tested presses.

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