Keypoint Intelligence’s Production 2.0 Program – Keeping it Real

Going beyond brochures to get the facts

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06/27/2022

David Sweetnam

 

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When digital production print first emerged, the ability to print high quality pages at a high speed over short commercially viable print runs sent shivers up the collective backs of offset manufacturers; they could suddenly see some of their lunch being slowly eaten by a new group of relatively low cost, aggressive competitors. Some of the key messaging from the offset world to counteract this new threat was focused on digital print technology’s perceived lack of image stability, limited media handling capabilities, and output restricted to the confines of CMYK color space.

 

Since Keypoint Intelligence came out with our original production cut sheet test program in 2007, a lot has changed. Our test program, which used to show huge differentiation between engines, was starting to look long in the tooth. The vendors were (to be honest) also getting too good at handling the range of tasks we assessed.

 

This all came to a head in 2018, 11 years after our Production 1.0 launch. We had a “warts and all” meeting with all the digital print vendors in one large conference room. There was no blood on the walls, no overturned furniture…just great honest feedback. The overriding message that came out of room was “we need you to push us harder.”

 

Never one to back away from a fight, we spent the next year developing a new test program that does exactly that.

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

In 2020, we launched the Production 2.0 program. Every area of our analysis was put on steroids from productivity, image quality, media handling, and usability. The Production 2.0 test program saw a number of new, challenging, real-world tests that can make a massive difference to the success of a print-for-pay operation or central reprographics department. For example:

  • Image stability analysis across challenging media (e.g., textured, single-side coated, oversized, heavy card stock, light coated) as well as looking at color and registration drift over 90-minute production runs
  • Spot color accuracy matching over 15 key corporate logo colors (including Coca Cola, McDonalds, Ford, Home Depot, FedEx, and UPS)
  • Productivity on different banner length media in simplex and duplex modes
  • Usability extended to include an analysis of key operator maintenance tasks and best practice, engine set up procedures (e.g., G7 calibration, ICC profiling, media registration)

 

With this massive uplift in testing criteria, we were once again able to provide the market with real world differentiation from one press to another and answer questions that no brochure can help you with. We also redesigned our test report to make it more user friendly and upgraded our bliQ Pro sales tool to give our subscribers more visual ways of displaying key performance benefits that can add real weight to sales proposal and customer presentations.  

 

Samples pages from a new Production Test Report

 

The three examples below show where our unique production testing program highlights major performance differentiators between competing presses.

 

Example 1

Press A (orange) drops 62% engine speed when switching from a postcard print run using 300gsm single-side coated SRA3 card stock to 250gsm SRA3 textured media. When printing a menu print job, competitor Press B (blue) only drops 6%.

 

 

Example 2

Press C (blue) outperforms Press D (orange) by 41% when printing 660mm banners in simplex mode (typical use - retail PoS materials), but press C is 26% slower than press D when printing 660mm banners in duplex mode (typical use - creation of 3-A4 sheet size folded brochure).

 

 

Example 3

When printing a selection of corporate logo spot colors using custom media ICC profiles and spot color matching, presses E (left) and F (right) delivered comparable results on Coca Cola red (Pantone 485) and McDonald's yellow (Pantone 123). However, Press E output Microsoft’s blue logo color (Pantone 279) at DeltaE 2.3 (near perfect visual match to the target color) while Press F output the same color at DeltaE 9.7 (clearly visible difference).

 

This is not a simple case of saying one press is better than another. In fact, the reverse was true when printing UPS Brown (Pantone 476), with press E hitting a visually different DeltaE 7.3 while press F reached a much more impressive (near perfect match) DeltaE 2.6.

 

To guarantee sign off and payment, the operator of both presses may well be required to create a replacement color to hit the required logo hue, delaying press start time and adding staffing cost.

 

 

Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

A brochure cannot tell you any of this critical real world performance data. The only place you can find these answers is in bliQ PRO, where you will find test reports and be able to compare test data side by side on the leading production presses.

 

Log in to bliQ to view reports, do comparative analysis, or read test results on the devices we’ve covered. If you’re not a subscriber, just send us an email at sales@keypointintelligence.com for more info.