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Colonial Press International takes the automated route to growing its business

Press release from the issuing company

December 16, 2003 -- Colonial Press International (CPI), a Miami-based web and sheetfed commercial facility, is built on family tradition. It was founded in 1952 and has been growing ever since to become the largest private and minority-owned full-service printing operation in the U.S. But CPI’s strategy for achievement is anything but traditional. To the contrary, the company attributes its success to being the first with the best when it comes to new printing technology. That includes the installation last year of a six-color MAN Roland ROTOMAN web press complete with shaftless direct drive, closed loop color control, automatic plate changers, automatic blanket washers, an aqueous coating tower and a combination sheeter/folder. The machine’s PECOM system connects directly to prepress and automatically sets the press’ ink fountains, ink rollers, size, folder, sheeter, angle bars, slitters and closed loop color. “We’re state-of-the-art across the board,” says Jorge Gomez, Colonial’s president and CEO, of his 200,000 sq ft facility. “We always make sure we’re the first to have any technology that can make things easier for our customers. And we do a lot of research to make sure we get the best.” Example: When Colonial bought its first ROLAND 700 six-color sheetfed press in 1998, one of the main reasons it selected the model was the press’s ability to set its own ink fountains directly from CIP 3 data. The objective was to get a productivity edge over its competitors. Gomez sees the purchase as a watershed event for his company, which is run by a staff of 150: “Prior to that when we ordered a new press, we were only getting the marketing value out of it. With the ROLAND 700, we obtained real technological value because of its PECOM operating system. No one else has any thing quite like it.” In-line coating and Power Plate Loading (PPL) also were part of the package on Colonial’s first 700, as were lightening-quick makereadies. Right out of the box, the company cut its makeready times from a range of 45-minutes-to-an-hour before PECOM and PPL to an average of 15- minutes-to-a-half-hour with the automation. Less than two years later demand for the press prompted Colonial to install a second six-color ROLAND 700. “These MAN Roland presses brought us up to meet a different level of customer,” Gomez says. “They’re more responsive and their quality level is higher than anything else we used in the past. As a result, we could pursue a higher level of clients and obtain more Fortune 500 and agency work — annual reports and other prestigious projects.” CPI’s client list counts BellSouth, Merck, Holland America, the U.S. Government Printing Office, Mullen Advertising and Grey Direct among its top entries. The company also prints “Playbill” — the Broadway, opera and play program guide. PECOM Performance Colonial’s COO and executive vice president Richard Sierra says that MAN Roland’s PECOM system takes the element of risk out of the equation on high-quality high-profile jobs. “We could do them before, but we knew that a lot could go wrong on press, “ he contends. “The automated systems on the 700 eliminate the chance for error because the human element is taken out of the workflow.” On the other hand, PECOM reinforces the human connection between printer and the customer. “The system gives us the ability to show the client our production plan for his job before we begin,” Gomez explains, noting that PECOM gives his customers an insider’s view of the printing process. That means Colonial’s press check procedure is a highly inclusive one. The client is brought to a workstation that’s running PECOM’s PressMonitor module and shown all of the parameters of his job, from where the black ink is going to run to what paper is being used. That way, the customer can see right from the start the amount of upfront planning Colonial does to make sure the job prints right, and raise any questions before the run begins. “Then we just load up the data and roll,” Gomez says. “Our ability to show that information to the customer instills a lot of confidence in him for what we can do and who we are. So PECOM is not only a technological innovation, it is also a customer relationship tool for CPI.” Sierra recalls a recent project in which an art director from top New York agency came down to press check his first print job with Colonial: “He was extremely technical and very thorough; he monitored everything and even measured the lighting on the press. Then, he paid us a tremendous complement. He did one press okay and said ‘you can handle the rest’ and left. Obviously he had seen enough to trust our technology and our expertise.” Working the Web That job was completed on CPI’s new ROTOMAN web press, which was installed at the conclusion of 2002. Sierra reports that the system is a perfect fit. “We routinely print different elements of the same job on the ROTOMAN and on the 700s,” he says. “There is no quality issue at all.” In fact Colonial regularly runs 175 line screen work on the web press and is working to raise the bar to 200 line screen in the coming months. And as it continues to grow its business, the company finds it’s putting more projects on the ROTOMAN that would have been earmarked for its sheetfed fleet. “The capabilities of the ROTOMAN change the way you look at a job, whether it’s better suited to sheetfed or web,” Sierra says. “Before, the rule of thumb used to be below 50,000 impressions, it stayed sheetfed. Now we’re not afraid to put a10,000 run on the ROTOMAN. Instead of asking ‘why?’ we now say ‘why not?’ “ Gomez credits the MAN Roland’s QuickStart II system, which is a PECOM add-on module, with making the job go like clockwork. "We were the first in North America with QuickStart II, “ he says. “We feel strongly about its ability to make our pressroom more productive. First, it cleans your ink trains between runs. Then the system ensures you have the correct amount of ink in each unit for the next press run. So as soon as you pull up, the quality level is there. You can see the advantages every time you start another form or begin the next job.” Colonial reports that it has significantly reduced paper waste on its ROTOMAN, thanks to PECOM and QuickStart II. Makeready generally takes just 1,500 to 2,000 impressions during start-up and only 800 sheets per form change. “The bottom line is how quickly you can get to color,” declares Pressroom Manager Daniel Gebhard. “When we print to the sheeter, we’re averaging 12-20 minutes makereadies on the ROTOMAN, and we’re achieving dot gains very similar to what we see from our sheetfed presses.” Jorge Gomez points to the press’ AC direct drive motors as another innovation contributing to ROTOMAN’s productivity and quality capabilities: “A shaft-driven press has physical limitations. As you go up and down in speed, the tension changes and you get variances in color. The servo motors on the ROTOMAN are digitally synchronized for consistency throughout the entire speed range.” Then there’s the “cool factor.” Customers are personally bringing in jobs, rather than shipping them over, just so they can see the ROTOMAN and its PECOM operating system in action. They also enjoy touring Colonial’s prepress department, which boasts a CTP workflow that’s anchored by a Screen thermal platesetter and driven by a Fuji Rampage cross platform RIP with stochastic screening. “CTP means late changes, even during press checks, are simple, fast and foolproof,” says Carlos Garcia, Jr., Director of Corporate Services. “We can correct artwork errors and re-plate in minutes instead of hours. We get the results the client wants and still stay on schedule and on budget.” Colonial’s postpress operation is also equipped to be up-to-the-minute. “Our four Muller Martini high-speed Prima saddle stitchers cruise at speeds of 15,000 copies per hour with either traditional or loop stitch,” Garcia notes. “And our 18-pocket Muller Martini perfect binder offers the alternate hot glue binding option that’s perfect for magazines or books.” Service Satisfaction Colonial finds that MAN Roland’s remote service support also matches its technology-driven focus. CPI uses the pressmaker’s Rapid Response Team to handle to its sheetfed needs and the Tele Support Center (TSC) to keep its ROTOMAN web running at peak performance. “Almost any conceivable problem can be diagnosed online by the TSC team,” says Jorge Gomez. “There’s a tremendous amount of value in that capability because we know that we can rely on our ROTOMAN to be up and running all of the time.” The Tele Support Center program gives Colonial’s web press crews immediate access to MAN Roland senior service engineers to answer questions and provide technical solutions over the phone — around to clock. Enhancing the effectiveness of TSC are the modem connections that are built into the ROTOMAN. They allow Tele Support Center experts to download both live and archival data so they can virtually look over an operator’s shoulder. Gomez credits the robust mechanical design of the ROTOMAN and its remote diagnostic capabilities for making repairs and maintenance painless processes. “We used to have an in-house mechanical engineer, but we’ve replaced him with an electronics expert,” he notes. “Working with the TSC engineers, we can resolve 99 percent of any problems online and over the phone.” Colonial’s next step: research and implementation of a Management Information System (MIS) that they can connect to their pressroom’s PECOM consoles to take full advantage of Computer Integrated Manufacturing. “We’re always looking for ways to make our workflow more effective and reliable,” Gomez says. “When you have new equipment it is very reliable, so it’s easy for us to meet even the tightest production schedules. That’s important when you’re producing jobs for major ad agencies and Fortune 500 companies. You’ve got to keep moving to keep growing.”