KODAK Unified Workflow Solutions have enabled Ultra Litho to transform into a more responsive, productive and efficient operation as it continues to assure its market leading position.
One of the largest privately owned sheetfed printers in South Africa, with 200 employees, is the region’s leading general commercial litho printers producing books, magazines, marketing literature and financial reports. It is the first operation in the region to integrate KODAK INSITE Prepress Portal System with KODAK PRINERGY CONNECT Workflow, KODAK PRINERGY Rules-Based Automation and KODAK PRINERGY Business Link Software to automate orders from reception to production and delivery.
Now the prepress process is 50% faster while print production has decreased from 24/6 to 24/5 without a reduction in profitability. Graeme Futter, sales and marketing manager, explains that a company wide review identified which solutions would best meet its requirements to tackle the key issues of shorter runs and faster turnaround times. “We found there were two bottlenecks, prepress and the bindery. The KODAK INSITE Prepress Portal System helps us manage the former while moving to 24/5 reduces the pressure on the latter and we are still as productive.”
The benefits of the INSITE Prepress Portal System were immediately obvious says Futter: “Enabling all our customers to upload their files remotely offers efficiencies on all fronts; from increasing turnaround times to reducing time pressures. PRINERGY Rules-Based Automation Software enables us to automatically preflight work when it arrives. This means we know straight away if there is a problem with a file and what is more our customers know too.”
Nick Wilson, software project manager, adds: “It is about sharing responsibilities with our clients. We can flag a problematic file straight away which allows us to be more proactive. Previously when a file was dropped on the desk it might have been a while before we knew there was a problem and then we would have done everything we could to fix it. Now our customers are aware too.”
Before making the investment Ultra Litho ran comparisons between files submitted electronically and those delivered traditionally and Futter says: “We found the KODAK INSITE Prepress Portal System was 50% faster and we know in the long term it will free up staff to be working on other jobs. In addition, eliminating the need for the physical delivery of files eliminates the associated environmental impact of transportation.”
The KODAK PRINERGY Business Link Software which links to the MIS has improved transparency and communication throughout the different departments. “It can identify any issues along the supply chain that need to be communicated back to the original estimator,” says Futter. “We are now a leaner more effective operation. And there is no getting away from it, complete transparency is imperative in today’s business environment.”
Ultra Litho is no stranger to pioneering new systems and solutions to help it maintain its position as the region’s leading general commercial printer.
This passion for pushing the boundaries is what led it to review its entire workflow process. Wilson states: “Ultra Litho is a market leader in terms of the equipment we have invested in and this is another way we are keeping abreast of what technology is out there. As a direct result of cutting edge technology investment and improved efficiencies Ultra Litho is now one step closer to achieving the elusive holy grail- JDF integration. We are systematically testing the connector and in the not too distant future expect to exceed the 50% increase in throughput. Once we have at least 85% of our work automatically processed via JDF, we will start further refining the process efficiencies using PRINERGY Rules-Based Automation Software.”
Futter adds: “To address the pressures we were facing we needed to go back to the drawing board. All our service solutions had been put together in a haphazard way. We needed to consolidate our infrastructure and to optimize our systems.”
Wilson expands: “This was both an internal and external process. We wanted to improve the way we communicated jobs throughout the different departments right through to dispatch and delivery of the product, as well as to our customers and at the same time improve efficiencies.”
Ultra Litho has been working with Kodak for more than ten years and when it first considered ways to make improvements Kodak gave a broad overview- hand in hand with distributor Antalis. Kodak then took Ultra Litho representatives to leading European customer installations to demonstrate what live production possibilities could be achieved.
Initially integrating the KODAK Systems with Ultra Litho’s existing Hiflex MIS configuration was not possible but, by working with both suppliers, the company's existing Hiflex MIS was custom integrated into the Kodak Workflow.. “We could have started from scratch with one supplier,” comments Wilson, “But both offer world class products and we knew we could liaise internationally with the best resources available to assist us in attaining our goals.”The process took some time to complete at the request of Ultra Litho. Wilson explains: “We probably could have got away with completing it faster but we wanted to ensure the hardware and software were properly in place and implementation was as smooth as it could be. We also wanted to double-check that each stage was successful. Throughout the process we ensured our service levels were maintained and there were no interruptions. As such there were only small widows of opportunities for the changes to be made.”
Ultra Litho has agreed to a 24/7 service contract that delivers peace of mind through a network of 3,000 highly trained experts worldwide who receive more than 80 hours of annual training per person. “Kodak’s operator training program was an essential element in the investment, too, comments Wilson. Our team is there to educate end users so they can fully appreciate the simplicity of the system. They demonstrate how the changes could improve our customers’ lives and make them more efficient.”
Securing A Market-Leading Future
As for the future impact on the business Futter says: “This investment was the biggest component in automating the processes throughout the factory and there are still opportunities further down the supply chain to convey real time data. It is an evolving project. We have made significant efficiencies and without it the competition could close the gap on us. We can now look towards taking on global accounts because we can offer the traceability and reportability most require. It also puts us in a leading position to accept work around the clock.”
Katja Poetzsch, Category Manager Unified Workflow and Prepress Solutions, MEAF comments: “Ultra Litho has built up a market leading position and with the solutions supplied by Kodak, it is perfectly placed to maintain this and even expand its reach into new geographic markets.”