Kendallville, IN – Back in 2002, Courier Corporation concluded that its book manufacturing business would be well served by installing additional 4-color printing capacity at its Kendallville, IN facility. After conducting a thorough evaluation of the available print technologies, the company contracted with manroland to install a LITHOMAN IV press early in 2004.
At just about the time that the installation of the first press was being completed, the company made what Courier's Vice President of Engineering Joe Brennan called "a very unusual decision for us. We doubled down on our investment and ordered a second LITHOMAN IV press for delivery in 2005. Time has proven that our decision was a good one. In fact, since then, we installed a third LITHOMAN IV press in 2006 and a fourth in 2010. All four manroland presses have continued to give us excellent performance in terms of both run efficiency and uptime."
Founded in 1824, Courier has two lines of business: full-service book manufacturing and specialty publishing. In book manufacturing, Courier prints books for the educational, religious, and specialty trade markets. In specialty publishing, Courier owns three publishing companies: Dover Publications, Research & Education Association and Creative Homeowner. The LITHOMAN IV presses help the company serve mid-to-large size educational and trade book publishers. They print 48-page signatures with each impression, making them significantly larger and faster than most high-capacity web presses used to print books. At the time of the company's installation of the first LITHOMAN in 2004, Courier was the first US printer to use the press exclusively for books.
The latest LITHOMAN press installed, like the three already in production, has four printing units on a single 1,460 millimeter (57.5 inch) web. The press is equipped for extremely fast make-readies that are achieved with the help of semi-automatic plate changers and the manroland QuickStart package. Complementing the high-speed press is an even faster PFI-5 drive folder with two quarter folders. The double-round cylinders perform at a maximum speed of 45,000 impressions per hour (90,000 signatures per hour).
Courier's initial analysis of 4-color presses in 2002 included financial modeling as well as field trips to observe and evaluate dozens of presses in operation. Evaluation criteria included performance, throughput and quality, along with some important considerations which were not as easily quantifiable: ease of use, predictability and reliability. "We polled several LITHOMAN users in a wide range of markets in our evaluation process." Brennan said: "Ultimately, we determined that the manroland LITHOMAN press was the best fit for our business in every way. In our assessments, not only did the LITHOMAN top the chart as the most productive, it also delivered the best ROI based on our financial modeling."
Brennan noted that there have been some incremental technology improvements in the presses over the years, but the core press functions, the user interface, and how the operators approach their work are the same. That has given the plant a substantial advantage in terms of manpower and schedule flexibility. "In a pressure packed production environment where we need to run 24/7, the common functionality and ease of use of our LITHOMAN presses allows us to accommodate vacations and unexpected illnesses by moving crews around from press to press without issues. In addition, the output from each press is so consistent that we can schedule the work interchangeably as needed. In fact, on occasion we are able to give our customers expedited schedules by running the same job on multiple presses."
Courier Corporation provides its customers with consistently good print quality, on-time deliveries and a high level of service. Brennan said that the LITHOMAN IV presses help Courier stay competitive by providing the company with an extremely stable 4-color printing platform along with automation features such as the PECOM (Process Electronic Control for Organization and Management), Semi-Automatic plate changers and the QuickStart pre-inking system which result in fast and consistent make readies. As a result of features like these, the LITHOMAN IV presses continue to do very well even when run lengths are medium to short. Brennan said that its latest LITHOMAN IV press, capable of producing up to 90,000 signatures an hour, was purchased with an eye toward staying competitive on a wide range of production run lengths.
Brennan praised manroland and the management team and operators at the Kendallville plant as well as his corporate engineering staff for the effort put forth for each LITHOMAN project. Every step of the way, the Courier team has worked closely with the manroland team to get each LITHOMAN installation up-and-running quickly and to reach targeted performance goals. He said, "We value having a close relationship with manroland. There is a very clear synergy and cooperative spirit between our two companies and it has produced amazing results."