Monday, April 27, 2015
Standardising Energy Consumption of Digital Printing Devices
Within our ISO working group we are looking at a document Fogra has drafted to provide guidance for quantifying how much energy a digital printing device consumes. You would think that this is pretty straightforward, but it’s not just a matter of counting how many units of electricity a digital press gobbles up. The idea would be to provide a means of accurately capturing comprehensive energy consumption data consistently, from device to device.
It is also hoped that a standard measurement method might provide buyers of digital printing engines with a universal model for calculating operational energy consumption. Such data would obviously contribute to working out the overall operating cost of a digital press, and our understanding of how digital printing devices impact the environment.
There is no doubt that the graphics industry needs better tools for measuring its energy use, for both narrow and wide format digital presses. Without a common model we have no means to reliably compare the power consumption of different digital presses, beyond the data collected with an on press metre. Energy consumption information is also necessary for calculating the carbon footprints of a print run or of individual prints.
A standard measurement method should also be very useful for printing machine manufacturers. They would be able to declare the energy consumption of their devices using a common set of criteria and buyers would be able to compare the data as part of their purchasing decisions. But the devil in all this in the detail, so precise and unambiguous definitions are key. We need to have consensus on what we mean by terms such as stand-by mode or wait mode, and whether or not peripheral equipment should be included in the calculation. And indeed what counts as peripheral equipment?
These and many more questions require guidance for what constitutes a standard configuration of a digital press. And print modes would also need to be clarified, because manufacturers’ ideas of Quality or Production modes aren’t always the same. It gets worse because we need to be sure that the method and guidance works for all types of digital printing devices. It must not be biased in any way to devices specialised for particular applications such as transactional or poster printing.
Clearly we have a long way yet to go in developing a universally acceptable means to measure energy consumption in digital presses. However once the work is done it will bring considerable benefits to the market. Not least of these is reinforcing print’s environmental accountability and the industry’s commitment to improving its footprint.
- Laurel Brunner