Oakdale, Pennsylvania — An upturn in new business has prompted Knepper Press to extend its production facility by 10,000 sq ft and begin installation of a new ten-color ROLAND 700 perfecting.
The suburban-Pittsburgh printer runs a business that is 50% sheetfed and 50% half web, producing a variety of commercial and publication work. “We focus on being able to deliver the most cost effective print solutions to meet our customers’ needs,” says Ted Ford, who co-owns the company with partner Bill Knepper.
Powering that mission are three half-webs and a sheetfed pressroom that features a 41-inch six-color ROLAND 700 and a 29-inch ROLAND 300, both with in-line coaters.
Knepper built the new extension to provide more elbow room for web and bindery production now, with an eye toward adding a new sheetfed machine in the future. “We had planned to put a new press in there eventually, but we didn’t count on doing it so soon,” Ford notes. “We got so busy on the other 700 that it almost caught us by surprise. We decided that we needed a new one immediately to keep up with the existing workload and to keep growing.”
Long Perfector — Short Runs
Scheduled to be up and running before the end of the year, the new ROLAND 700 is equipped for 5/5 perfecting. Knepper chose the configuration as a business builder. The press’ double-side, single-pass 12,000 sph production rate equips the Pittsburgh printer with the firepower to go after shorter run publication work that competitors currently produce on full webs.
Knepper believes it can handle such assignments better, faster and less expensively on its new perfector. Contributing to that strategy is the MAN Roland InLine Sheeter that is part of Knepper’s productivity package on the new machine. The device, which debuted at drupa and Graph Expo, is digitally controlled, allowing press crews to change job sizes without the need for time-consuming gear changes during makeready.
“Roll-to-sheet will help us capture more shorter-run catalog and publication work,” Ford notes. “We’ll be able to use web stock, which will cut our paper costs. And we’ll be able to run lighter weights, which will enable our catalog customers to save on postage costs. We intend to use the InlineSheeter as much as we can.”
While Knepper is not planning to pull work off its half-webs to feed the new press, saddle stitched and perfect bound books will be on the ten-color perfector’s agenda. The press’ 41-inch format makes the production of 16-page signatures a highly cost-effective endeavor.
As far as quality is concerned, Knepper is equipping its new perfector with OptiPrint Jackets to ensure high-end results on both sides of the sheet. Featuring a surface that’s engineered to be extremely ink resistant, the jackets sheath the impression cylinders downstream of the 700’s perfecting unit. The result: ink pick-up from the wet side of the perfected sheet is minimized, so optimum print quality is routinely delivered.
Mailing It In
Knepper Press expects to acquire more direct mail work, thanks to the new machine’s faster makereadies and turnaround rates. The printer provides complete direct mail campaign coverage: from prepress, to printing, to personalized ink jetting, to postal sorting and delivery. By compressing the printing cycle, the new press will allow Knepper to respond more favorably to its clients’ time and pricing demands.
Contributing to the 700’s ability to speed from job to job is MAN Roland’s PECOM operating system, now part of the pressmaker’s printnet digital backbone. Knepper Press was one of the first printers in North America to take advantage of the advanced PECOM modules — JobPilot and PressMonitor — and benefit from computer integrated manufacturing (CIM). Now it will integrate a third MAN Roland machine into its pressroom network.
JobPilot lets Knepper press crews complete makeready for the next job, while the current project continues printing, for a considerable time savings. “The automated ink zone setting is probably the biggest benefit,” Ford says. “We can also set the side guides, the calipers and other key components off-line, while the press is making money.”
Knepper Press controls color quality on its existing MAN Rolands with the help of CCI densitometry, and will advance to ColorPilot spectrophotometry when the new press comes on line. The system perceives color much like the human eye sees it, and assigns a numerical value to every nuance. That, in essence, benchmarks the color profile for each printing project.
“ColorPilot will give us a system for improved consistency,” Ford explains. “We’ll be running with the same tool, to the same standards on every job, so we won’t be operating the press differently each time. The consistency will be there, regardless of who is running the press.”
Spectrophotometry also functions as the ultimate press check tool, according to Ford: “If we make a 5% move on magenta, for instance, we can document the change for the customer. The client can perceive the change, see the value, and know we’re heading in the right direction. That way we’re not going round and round.”
The color quality control system will also streamline reprints at Knepper. “Since we can save the settings in PECOM, we can do the job precisely the same way every time. That means a lot to the customer, because it’s something he or she can rely on. It takes a big variable out of the equation.”
Auto Plate Loading (APL), meanwhile is taking a big chuck of time out of every Knepper PECOM-driven makeready. The company has it on its existing 700 and ordered its new press with the automated system to cut the plate swapping interval to under a minute per unit. “You can only bill for the time you’re printing,” Ford says. “Auto Plate Loading helps maximize those profitable hours.”
Saving with CIM
A computer integrated manufacturing pioneer, Knepper Press runs EFI’s Logic as its MIS solution. Direct Machine Interfaces (DMIs) are an integral part of all of its major production systems to automate the movement of job specifications into its workflow and to get production data out of it. The new press also will be DMI equipped for now, but is equipped to plug directly into a JDF workflow at any point in time.
Ford reports: “With Logic’s AutoCount, I can visualize on my computer how every press is operating. I also get live accounting data from each department, so I can keep track of costs as each job progresses.”
Knepper’s next step is to market the expanded capabilities of its new plant and its new press. But the company is so busy, that will have to wait until the new perfecting 700 goes on line in December. “We’ll go after new business when we’re ready to take it on,” Ford says. “We envision our new 700 perfector bringing in lots of it.”
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.