Action Printing is first in U.S. to forge a digital link to saddle stitching

Press release from the issuing company

April 8, 2003 -- The promise of fully integrating the start of the printing process with its finishing end has become a reality at Action Printing in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The printer and publisher has become the first facility in the U.S. to digitally link its customer service department to its high-speed saddle stitching system. Action Printing, a Gannett owned facility, has been running a Prima AMRYS saddle stitching system by Muller Martini since 2001. AMRYS stands for Automatic Makeready System. The innovation incorporates touch screen technology, advanced software, and a network of servo motors to automate set-ups on the high speed Prima stitcher. The result: Rather than making literally dozens of adjustments by hand from one end of the machine to the other, the operator needs only to enter the job’s parameters and AMRYS does the rest. “It took our operators 85 minutes to makeready a traditional saddle stitcher,” says Peter Doyle, Operations Manager at Action, pointing out that the company’s between job routines typically also require adjusting various peripherals like inkjet addressing equipment and drilling lines. “With AMRYS we got down to 45 minutes per makeready.” But the story gets better. Since implementing a CIP3 workflow earlier this year, Action Printing has slashed another 10 minutes from its average Prima AMRYS set-up times. “With the CIP3 integrated workflow, using the Print Production Format (PPF), we are down to 35 minutes per makeready,” Doyle declares. Most of those 35 minutes are spent on job staging items, since it takes AMRYS only three minutes to carry out all the necessary changeover adjustments on Prima once makeready is initiated. Action’s route toward becoming the first in the nation to make the digital connection to its saddle stitcher began in Chicago at Graph Expo last year. Doyle and other company executives witnessed a demonstration at the Muller Martini exhibit, which showed how AMRYS technology directly accepts PPF files created by ScenicSoft’s Upfront software. The Muller Martini experts at the show were aware of Action’s success with its Prima AMRYS system. And when Doyle informed them that the company was using Upfront as a production planning tool, the history-making connection project was launched. “It was a logical step for Action Printing because we have always believed in thorough job planning and work order instructions,” Doyle says. “A team of Muller technicians came to our site to review our machine and train our operators as to how to keep the machine calibrated so that we could get all of the benefits of an integrated work flow.” Initial testing was done via “sneaker net.” A floppy disk was created on Upfront in Action’s customer service department and then carried to the AMRYS’s PC. A bit of compatibility issue arose when it was discovered that the AMRYS computer was running Windows 98 while the customer service system was using the 2000 version of the software. It was quickly resolved however, since the AMRYS computer is powered by the world’s most popular operating system, and can be upgraded with off-the-shelf Microsoft products. “Once we had the AMRYS PC running on 2000 everything worked properly,” Doyle recalls. “It was very easy to plug AMRYS into our digital workflow. We subsequently established a hard-wired network connection, and ever since we’ve been sending all our PPF files directly to AMRYS via our network server.” The link lets Action Printing put its customer service representatives (CSRs) in charge of keying in job parameters. In effect, the Upfront software and the AMRYS PPF connection gives the CSRs more control over the details of every job. That means they can better respond to their clients’ needs, to build customer loyalty. Another advantage of the connection: since specifications for the job are keyed-in only once, the possibility of entry errors is reduced to virtually nil. To keep things that way Action Printing invested in production planning courses for its Customer Service Reps. “Two of our CSRs went to ScenicSoft’s headquarters for Upfront training,” Doyle recalls. “We then had three days of on-site training from ScenicSoft. This training was to make sure that we were using Upfront properly so that the file created could be used in our prep department to import into [ScenicSoft’s] Prep's software. Once the Upfront files are created properly it is very easy to export a file for the AMRYS in the ‘CIP3 Bindery’ window.” Muller Martini also provided training on the AMRYS end of the equation for any Action operators who required it. Since the busy printer typically runs multiple shifts, providing a uniform operating procedure through hands-on instruction was critical to the system’s success. The production rewards were well worth it, according to Doyle: “AMRYS and CIP3 help standardize the makeready process. Through their use we see less variation in our makeready times and increased standardization as to how the machine is set up.” Things weren’t always like that: “In non-AMRYS machines operator input and adjustments were greater. Each operator tended to set up the machine a little different. Eliminating variation is the key to process improvement. This can be done to a much greater degree using a machine with automated controls.” Doyle reports that his bindery crews “love” the AMRYS system, which was the recipient of a 2002 GATF InterTech Award. “They never want to operate a saddle stitcher without this technology again,” he says.