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RR Donnelley pilots the JDF workflow at Nielsen to achieve makeready & production savings

Press release from the issuing company

Cincinnati, Ohio — RR Donnelley is successfully applying the efficiencies of JDF to the real world production of saddle stitched books in a pilot program at The Nielsen Company, one of its key commercial printing facilities. Partnering in the pilot are Creo with its Prinergy workflow and UpFront job planning software, MAN Roland and Komori with their JDF-ready web presses, and Muller Martini with a PrimaPlus SB saddle stitching system. The stitcher’s AMRYS (automated makeready) feature extends the JDF workflow to the bindery by automating the dozens of settings a stitcher line requires through a network of digitally controlled servo motors. The Donnelley JDF workflow pilot at Nielsen is built around five objectives: First, the company seeks to reduce its overall cost of manufacturing. That begins with the reduction of print errors caused by poor information getting into the process due to manual inputting errors. Second, it aims to reduce cycle times by turning every job around in 48 hours or less. The third objective is being able to achieve more throughput with less staff. Goal number four is the development of an overall production process that is integrated for repeatable and predictable results. And the final objective is to optimize equipment utilization, so The Nielsen Company can feed more work to its presses to improve its return on investment. After only two months in operation, the pilot workflow is scoring high marks on each of the objectives, according to Ray Hartman, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Technology for R.R. Donnelley, who is responsible for equipping the company’s facilities with state-of-the-art systems worldwide. “We call it print on command,” he says of the Nielsen pilot program. “And we intend on modeling it over our commercial platform throughout the Donnelley network.” The bindery is a particular area of concern when it comes to fully integrating a commercial facility’s workflow, because of the precise physical functions — like folding, gathering, stitching, and trimming — it needs to perform. At Nielsen, five saddle stitching systems of various vintages were at the heart of the postpress process. For its new JDF workflow, the company replaced its two oldest systems with one PrimaPlus. Each stitcher had been delivering 6,500 copies per hour. As anticipated, Prima has raised the bar on that performance considerably. “We are now producing in the range of 12-13,000 copies per hour on the PrimaPlus. So we’ve got 100% coverage in terms of net speed. And in terms of ROI, we expect payback in less than three years just on the production savings PrimaPlus provides.” But it is in the area of postpress makeready that the PrimaPlus’ connection to the JDF workflow really pays off. Nielsen utilizes Creo’s UpFront job planning software as its entry point for job specifications. The latest 3.0 version of UpFront is based on JDF. It hands down all of the job’s specifications, such as the overall size of the book, the trim dimensions, and the quantity of the job to PrimaPlus’ AMRYS connection. “Before we instituted this JDF workflow with PrimaPlus, the operators would have to look everything up on a job ticket and set all the adjustments throughout the machine by hand,” Hartman says. “Now we can have the JDF workflow presetting PrimaPlus automatically as the signatures are coming off the press. That gives us predictable and repeatable results from information that’s organized within the workflow.” As a result, Nielsen is now able to turnaround most jobs in from 30 minutes to an hour on its PrimaPlus. “And we’ve only been running it for two months,” Hartman notes. “That‘s amazing.” John Lestingi, Vice President of Manufacturing at The Nielsen Company, agrees: “This is the first significant technology we’ve seen come down to the bindery in a long time. Muller Martini has really stepped up to the plate with AMRYS. We run eleven presses altogether, so it doesn’t take long to bury our bindery. The PrimaPlus has helped us with our efficiency and enables us to keep up with the pressroom curve.” The Nielsen Company expects to notch up its stitcher throughput even higher by investing in log stream feeders, which are available from Muller Martini for the PrimaPlus. The upgrade would result in a more automated and integrated flow of printed signatures from the pressroom to the bindery. At the heart of the JDF workflow at Nielsen are two 16-page web offset presses — a Komori with a Microcolor closed loop inking system from GMI and an MAN Roland ROTOMAN with its own PECOM operating and automation system. “We reduced our four man crew to a three man crew in the pressroom, as a result of this pilot program,” Hartman notes. “Over three shifts, that really adds up.” Producing consistent results and achieving consistent performance from shift-to-shift is implicit in Donnelley’s objectives for the JDF pilot. “As is the case in most plants, our third shift is the least skilled and the least experienced, because your best people want to work during the day,” Hartman explains. “Thanks to AMRYS and JDF, we can have a 7/24 system we can depend on from shift-to-shift.” The Nielsen Company is taking advantage of what Hartman classifies as “a predictable” makeready on its PrimaPlus. “We don’t need tribal knowledge to get it going,” Hartman says. “You don’t need air hoses to push the book down on the chain, or have to figure out where to blow the air. On the Prima, the air blast comes right through to the pocket on the timed cycle. So everybody sets it up the same way and we get consistent results.” The PrimaPlus and the JDF workflow are providing their worth on repeat jobs as well. In the pressroom, the Komori and MAN Roland webs are virtually setting their own color profiles for reruns, using data from the original job. Similarly in the bindery, PrimaPlus recalls job parameters on its own, including any on-the-fly tweaks that might have been necessary, to accelerate set-up of repeat runs. “You want to start up as close as possible to what you need to turnaround the job as quickly as possible,” Hartman says. “AMRYS helps us do that.” Donnelley is also finds that “the electronic job ticket” aspect of JDF reduces process errors. “People aren’t guessing,” Hartman declares. “In JDF, a text file tells you the specifications on how that job needs to be run correctly.” The next phase of the pilot is connecting The Nielsen Company’s EFI Logic management information system to its new JDF workflow. “For one thing, we want to get machine data downloaded from the Prima into the Logic MIS so we can do cost variance reporting of actual production times vs. our estimates,” Hartman says. “Eventually, we want to benchmark our equipment and standardize the process across the platform of the entire commercial printing plant. That involves hooking into every machine with MIS to know what your costs are.” Hartman began looking at PrimaPlus as his JDF-driven finishing solution back in 2002, when the system received an InterTech award from the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation. “My confidence level was initially built around the award,” he says. “That brought me to GATF, which runs a PrimaPlus AMRYS in its research facility, for my first demo on the machine. I wanted proof that it not only received the award for JDF integration, but that it actually works.” Now Hartman is returning the favor, feeding operating data from the Nielsen PrimaPlus to GATF. “They can learn from us how it all works in a real production environment,” he says. “We want to push GATF and the industry along even faster by being a bit of an evangelist about this.” Ray Hartman’s future expectations from JDF and the work of Network Graphic Production partners like Muller Martini, Creo, MAN Roland and Komori are demanding but focused: “My expectation level is to be able to have consistent machine performance with presetting. Number two is to have more utilization so I can schedule time better and produce more predictably. Three is to get more throughput since I have eliminated a constraint in the bindery. And four is to achieve that 48 hours or less cycle time we strive for.”