Maintenance Schedules

Discovering potential faults with your printing press before they turn into damage or failures is worth the extra effort and care.

For the sake of simplicity the maintenance tasks described below are generalized and are not specific to make or model. Adapt suggestions as indicated; specialized maintenance tasks as required by your particular equipment should be researched and duly executed.

Establishing a Preventative Maintenance Schedule

A preventative maintenance schedule is simply a timed series of procedures and inspections of your shop equipment independent and in addition to the normal maintenance performed during use cycles. The most effective way to make the tools, equipment and presses in your shop perform at their best is to establish a regular and consistent system of maintenance and inspection.

The tools needed are a notebook, calendar and pencil. You may use your home computer, PDA, or smart phone if you so choose.

Maintenance Log

simple paper calendar and notebook maintenance log

The inspections and maintenance actions repeated on a calendar date are referred to as a “cycle.”

The first step is to make a list of all your shop equipment including such things as slug trimmers, galley racks, hand tools and cabinets. Organize the list by order of complexity. (I.e. equipment with the most moving parts down to the least)

Example:
Pilot Press
Perfect Dream Paper Cutter
Rule Miter
Slug Cutter
Slug Trimmer
Composing Stick A
Composing Stick B
Composing Stick C
Micrometer
Hallway Galley Rack
Pressroom Galley Rack
Type Cabinet Front
Type Cabinet Corner
Type Cabinet Tall
Pica Pole A
Pica Pole B
Type Gauge
Roller Gauge

Once you have made your list use the following frequency guidelines to mark calendar dates for each piece of equipment’s scheduled maintenance cycle. The frequency repeats for the life of the equipment, so if you start a maintenance cycle of every week for example, you would simply mark the cycle for every seventh calendar day. It’s recommended to stagger as much as possible to avoid over tasking yourself and invite the temptation to cut corners or rush.

These are general suggestions for cycle frequency, they should be adapted and referenced for specific equipment in your shop. All printing equipment regardless of complexity benefits from regular attention.

Sample Maintenance Cycles

Printing Presses

Infrequent Use (less than once a month) Perform cycle every six months
Frequent Use (every week) Perform cycle every month
Regular Use (every day) Perform cycle weekly

Cycle includes:

  • Wipe down and polish press body
  • “Tools on” check of every fastener for proper torque
  • Check for proper lubrication
  • Check equipment is level and supports are stable
  • Check drive chains and belts (as applicable) for proper tension
  • Inspect cylinder bearers for proper clearance (as applicable)
  • Inspect rails and trucks (as applicable)
  • Check platen square (as applicable)
  • Inspect roller surfaces for nick, imperfections or accumulated residue
  • Inspect oil levels in transfer or gear cases
  • Corrosion inspection and mitigation of necessary
  • Inspect all chases for square, flatness and corner cracks (as applicable)
  • Any other tasks as specified by manufacturer
  • Record any notes in Press Log

Paper Cutters

Infrequent Use (less than once a month): Perform cycle every twelve months
Frequent Use (every week): Perform cycle every six months
Regular Use (every day): Perform cycle monthly

Cycle includes:

  • Wipe down and polish body
  • Clean paper bed with alcohol
  • “Tools on” check of every fastener for proper torque
  • Check for proper lubrication
  • Inspection of safety interlocks function
  • Check blade for nicks or other anomalies (replace and send for sharpening as needed)
  • Check guide for square
  • Check blade for square
  • Smooth operation of guide drive
  • Any other tasks as specified by manufacturer
  • Record any notes in Shop Log

Leading Cutters & Rule Miters

Infrequent Use (less than once a month): Perform cycle every twelve months
Frequent Use (every week): Perform cycle every six months
Regular Use (every day): Perform cycle every three months

Cycle includes:

  • Wipe down and polish
  • “Tools on” inspection of fasteners
  • Inspect mounting and/or base integrity
  • Wipe down and polish
  • Corrosion control as needed
  • Inspect blade for nick, damage or imperfections (sharpen or repair as needed)
  • Inspect guides for proper operation
  • Check for proper Lubrication
  • Record any notes in Shop Log

Hand Tools, Pica Poles, Quoins, Static Gauges (type high & roller height)

All use levels: Perform cycle every six months

Cycle includes:

  • Wipe down and polish, remove and ink residues
  • Inspect hooks on pica pole ends for distortion—discard and replace damaged
  • Perform corrosion control on quoins and keys—lubricate high speed quoins with a drop or two of oil. Replace keys with damaged ends
  • Inspect gauges for nicks or damage
  • Record any notes in Shop Log

Galley Racks

Infrequent Use (less than once a month): Perform every twelve months
Frequent Use (every week or daily): Perform every three months

Cycle includes:

  • Wipe down and polish
  • Check rack is level and fasteners are tight
  • Inspect body for corrosion—especially at the base and rear
  • Inspect unused galleys for corrosion and perform mitigation as needed, especially racks with standing type or cuts (Moisture can be retained under these as humidity changes)
  • Record any notes in Shop Log

Type Cabinets

All use levels: Perform cycle every twelve months

Cycle includes:

  • Remove cases and vacuum interior
  • Inspect and mitigate collected dust or debris in type cases.
  • Clean and lightly lubricate case runners as needed
  • Polish exterior wooden finishes with furniture wax, polish exterior painted metal surfaces with automotive wax
  • Record any notes in Shop Log

Press Log Books

The best maintenance tool is an accurate record of what’s been done, repaired, and how much work has been printed on your equipment. Memory is fallible over time. Pen and ink is generally more reliable. Keeping log books for each of your printing presses and one for your shop in general is a great record of what you have accomplished and a useful troubleshooting tool.

Make entries in the Press Logs on the date, number of impressions and any operational issues encountered for each job you print. This is an excellent tool for spotting any creeping symptoms of larger issues, judging wear for part replacements and the efficacy of your maintenance frequency.

Shop Journals

Make entries in your Shop Journal of the dates and progress of projects and significant tasks done around the shop. Number your projects and keep notes as you progress through execution. You can be as elaborate as including ink and paper swatches into entries or as simple as short written entries.

This is an extremely valuable auto-didactic tool which enables you to repeat results and explain issues to repair techs or mentors. You can review as needed at your leisure to refresh your memory and build on previous techniques.

Supply Inventories

Estimate your expected material use over a three month period and supply accordingly. Performed a scheduled inventory check every three months. Make a note of materials that are below estimated levels for five additional uses. Post your inventory replenishment notes prominently where you will see them every time you enter or leave your shop area. This gives you five chances to remember to re-supply before you run out. Profit from being prepared: time and expense lost to unplanned supply runs or rush shipping costs is never fully recovered.

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