Washington, DC (August 11, 2005) - The International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press, and Postpress (CIP4) today announced the first winner of the CIP4 International Print Production Innovation (CIPPI) award. In the category of "best cost/benefit realization as a result of process automation implementation" the application of Action Printing of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin was selected by ballot of CIP4's advisory board.
With 300 full and part-time employees and customers in 41 states, Action Printing has won six national awards for quality and seven state level awards, but this is its first international recognition for its accomplishments. "The CIPPI Award not only helps our reputation in the industry as a quality printer, it also will help smooth the way for future automation projects and changes," says Action Printing Operations Manager Peter Doyle. "Change can be difficult for employees, particularly integrated automation, and by getting recognition for our automation program, it helps the employees understand the value of what we are doing and helps to get them thinking positively about change and it motivates them."
Action Printing prints 345 commercial printing products monthly. Action Printing automated the setup of its saddle stitchers by communicating layout and production specifications from Kodak's Synapse UpFront software to Muller Martini Prima saddle stitchers with the AMRYS (Automatic Make-Ready System) system via standard data formats. Prior to the project setup and adjustments were made by hand and both setup times and job throughput were unpredictable. Prior to automation, setup of its saddle stitchers took approximately 85 minutes on average, and afterwards, setup now only takes an average of 24 minutes per machine between jobs. "It was not productivity gains that were the biggest benefit, it was improved consistency," says Doyle. "Variations in jobs and makeready are now limited and predictable, which is also important for estimating and aligning estimated costs to actual costs."
Now the customer service department creates layout instructions in Synapse UpFront, which is then exported as a JDF (Job Definition Format) file to a file server. The operator of the Muller Martini saddle stitcher finds the saved JDF instructions on the server and downloads these instructions to the machine. The AMRYS makeready sequence is followed and all machine adjustments are made in less then five minutes.
The project was led by Peter Doyle, but members of the postpress crew were instrumental in pulling the project together. With the final deadline for live production looming, Scott Engman and Rick Day (both Action employees) came in on Saturday to tackle last minute obstacles. "We were having problems with Windows and making the network connection. They reloaded the operating system and fixed the problems before the end of the weekend. At the time, GATF was also working on an implementation of the Muller Martini Amrsys system and we wanted to get a commercial implementation operating and prove that it could work in production before it was operating in a laboratory environment."
"Publishers are pushing printer prices down," says Doyle. "Our automation programs help us to compete by being smarter, and that will help attract more business." Action Printing's winning process automation implementation proves that process automation does not have to be and end-to-end enterprise-wide integration effort to be of value. "Action Printing has demonstrated that the effective implementation of JDF can deliver true business value," said Tim Daisy, NGP Initiative Manger at Kodak. "I'm pleased that the cooperation of two Networked Graphic Production partners could help Action achieve positive process improvements."
"Muller Martini congratulates Action Printing on yet another groundbreaking achievement and is proud to have partnered with Kodak/Creo in supporting Action Printing for this distinctive CIPPI award," says Eric Olsen, Regional Sales Manager for Muller Martini Corporation. "Action Printing was the first company in the world to make the prepress to finishing workflow link; today they are the first to be recognized for its financial worthiness. Within the printing industry today, many companies are trying to decide if the JDF hype they hear daily from their vendors has a defined benefit. Action Printing has given the industry the answer and leads by example. The amazing thing is that they continue to set these examples using Muller Martini AMRYS equipment that is two generations older than what is available from our factories today. It validates our decision to implement AMRYS into the majority of the Muller Martini product line."
Honorable mention in the category of "best cost/benefit realization as a result of process automation implementation" was awarded to Druckhaus Berlin-Mitte GmbH (DBM) of Berlin, Germany. DBM uses JDF as the format for communicating job data between its Hiflex Scheduling and Hiflex PDC (Production Data Collection) systems and MAN Roland presses that have been updated with the PECOM system. According to DBM's CIPPI award application, "The information flow from the administration system (Hiflex MIS) into production (and finally to the press) is now a fully integrated, cross-vendor solution. Production data only has to be entered once and subsequent systems are provided with necessary job specifications. The process of scheduling is improved by enhanced accuracy and a higher degree of flexibility. The scheduling is constantly kept up-to-date by the online feedback from production. Therefore DBM profits from a profound visibility into the production process, which provides them with the prerequisites for an extended planning horizon." The Return On Investment (ROI) of the JDF implementation at DMB was 991.9 % within five years, which means that the investment is paid back 10.91 times. DMB estimates an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 236%. "A lot of printers, publishers, and prepress professionals have asked me what the ROI is for a JDF implementation," says James E. Harvey, Executive Director of the CIP4 Organization, "but there's no standard answer; much depends on the equipment and workflow you're starting with and what it is you are trying to accomplish. The implementation stories of Action Printing and DBM are very different. They give some concrete examples of different approaches to process automation and some very real results. I think both Action Printing and DBM should be very proud of their accomplishments ... they are lighting the way for print professionals around the world who are looking for the way to better profits in an extremely competitive environment.
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