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Hennegan Co.--The Art of Print Control

August 1999
Riding high on its belief of embracing technological innovation, The Hennegan Company, a four-generation heatset web and sheetfed commercial printer founded in 1886, meets modern-day quality demands by leaping into thermal CTP and cutting-edge digital proofing.


Sixty minutes. That may not sound like much time, but when those 60 minutes are spent, in seclusion, dissecting a select grouping of printed samples produced at the century old Florence, KY-based Hennegan Company, now in its fourth generation, each minute amounts to time very well spent.

It only takes one hour of concentrated scrutiny to detect the meticulous care that must permeate each component of the full-service operations at Hennegan. Each sample is a testament to Hennegan's belief in technological and marketing ingenuity, ranging from an array of glossy annual reports for corporate giants the stature of Lockheed Martin, to equally impressive projects such as a 50-page, three-section brochure printed for New York retailer Takashimaya. It featured a cover wrap with locking tab and a mailing wrap printed on 80# Mohawk Superfine white eggshell with special beige, gray, green and black section covers. The brochure, printed at a volume of 20,000, incorporates more than three dozen images, all delivered using metallics, spot tinted varnish and spot dull varnish.

The client gave Hennegan 37 transparencies to scan, with all colors subjects for four-color process with fluorescent magenta. There were five different gray metallic inks used, with well executed die scoring, diecutting and engraving adding elegance to the piece. The perfect-bound brochure closed with a side sew locking stitch. Nice job.

Then there is the Johnson & Johnson 1998 annual report, another example of Hennegan's commitment to quality. The report, printed at more than one million, is a 54-page text, four-color cover, 81⁄2x11˝ product produced 100 percent computer-to-plate, using a Heidelberg/Creo thermal 3244 Trendsetter system. The editorial text was printed on 100# SigNature R dull web text, the financial text on 70# Valorem recycled smooth gray text and the ornate cover on 100# SigNature R dull cover stocks. The entire project took four-color process, including solid black and gloss varnish, with several PMS colors, including special blues and greens. The piece was perfect bound.

Again, nice job.

So, how does this fourth-generation family operation compete for new work—and craft beyond merely nice jobs—in this age of industry consolidation and cutting-edge digital technology?

Mike Fleury, director of prepress at Hennegan, emphasizes two of Hennegan's great strengths: the ability to seize opportunity and the commitment to turn opportunity into success.

"Very few companies have an opportunity to rebuild and develop in existing, key areas," Fleury states. "The Hennegan Company has done just that, however, by stepping out and taking the gigantic leap into the future by embracing digital prepress, by researching technologies to help alleviate workflow bottlenecks and productivity issues, by identifying the high demands and projected expectations of our customers—and by making sure we have the right technological solutions in place to meet future requirements."

A major technological focus for Hennegan: CTP. The Hennegan philosophy: Attack CTP technology and comparable digital prepress technologies and employ new technologies to control the destiny of print.

"Naturally, we want to be consistent. We want to continue to grow as a company, technologically—CTP is an obvious avenue for growth," Fleury reports.

Hennegan is impressive.

The prepress department includes five SGI Indigo 2 Impact BG-2570LC workstations, one SGI Octane BG-2502L workstation, 15 Macintosh production workstations, two BARCO Graphics imagesetters (Megasetter Plus and BG-3800), two Heidelberg/Creo 3244 Trendsetter thermal CTP devices, two Kodak Digital Approval XP4 color proofing devices from Kodak Polychrome Graphics, plus two additional Kodak DCP-9000 dye-sublimation digital printers. Hennegan's prepress department also features scanning systems by Heidelberg Prepress, a Digital Storage Works 500GB RAID server and, last, but not least, digital connectivity via WAM!NET's secure, managed network and the Internet.

Into the Pressroom
In the pressroom, Hennegan is primarily a Heidelberg shop, operating five 40˝ presses, two eight-color and three six-color machines, including two eight-color Heidelberg Speedmaster CDs with coating towers equipped with CIP3 electronic prepress interfaces and a five-color, 60˝ Harris press, which allows Hennegan to support high-quality oversized work for retail and POP applications. Hennegan prints on a variety of substrates, from 0.002˝ to 0.028˝.

Hennegan also utilizes two six-color Baker Perkins 16-page webs, sporting a full complement of finishing capabilities, including UV coating. The webs are also CIP3-compliant, utilizing Graphics Microsystems technology for presets as well as closed loop color control.

Stepping into the bindery, workhorse systems by Bobst and Heidelberg create the company's diecutting, stamping and embossing portfolio, with drilling machines, inserter/trimmers, buckle folders and perfect binders from finishing legends the likes of Stahl, Muller Martini and Lawson. Hennegan's Muller Martini perfect binder—a pride point at the Hennegan bindery—offers 18 pockets, with Automatic Signature Recognition (ASR) and side stitcher option, capable of handling sizes 12.5x13.5˝ to 10.5x19.5˝, depending on the infeed angle.

Indeed, impressive, especially for a standalone printer operating independently in an age of consolidation—a fourth-generation printing company still managed by the descendants of two of its three founding fathers, John F. and James H. Hennegan, who, with partner James Kelly, founded the company in 1886.

"Since the beginning, Hennegan's goal has been to control the print production process—the entire process, from prepress to the bindery," states Bob Ott Jr., whose energetic 76-year-old father, Bob Ott Sr., still runs a great deal of the company—servicing top accounts, personally, seven days a week.

Where Hennegan is breaking new ground in creating new expectations from customers is in the realm of digital prepress. On the proofing front: two new Kodak Approval XP4 systems from Kodak Polychrome Graphics. On the platesetting side: Hennegan's common RIP approach—BARCO Graphics RIPs driving a variety of output devices, including Hennegan's Creo and Kodak Polychrome Graphics devices.

Fleury reports that Hennegan was the first commercial printer in the world to contract BARCO Graphics and Creo (actually, a very determined team of Bob Ott Jr. and Fleury approached BARCO and Creo technology executives on the show floor at Graph Expo 1997) to develop a RIP to drive the Creo thermal output device. Within six months, Hennegan had a working BARCO RIP on duty that met its Graph Expo parameters. At that time, Hennegan had two Creo 3244 thermal output devices.

Meeting Approval
Late last year, Hennegan became one of the first commercial printers to receive a Kodak Approval XP4 digital halftone proofer. A second XP4 followed a few months later. A BARCO RIP drives the XP4 units at Hennegan.

"Our philosophy on RIPing is simple in its nature—we want the same screening, the same angles, coming off of our output devices; we want to see the same results coming off of all of our platesetters, proofers, all forms of digital output," Fleury says.

On the consumables side, Fleury reports Hennegan has no negative issues with its thermal plates.

Hennegan, Fleury promises, understands the thermal plate process. "We brought in the first generation, 830nm Kodak thermal plate one year before the Creo output devices came in. Our line of thinking was to integrate the consumable first into our workflow," Fleury says, noting that the first generation Kodak thermal plate, implemented at Hennegan in 1997, is a bi-functional plate, allowing for analog platemaking, as well as digital platesetting.

The advantages of bringing in the thermal consumable before the thermal output device, Fleury reports, were seen in the pressroom.

"Pressroom personnel were comfortable with the plate—long before Hennegan's first Creo fired out its thermal plate," he recalls. "Partnering the pressroom with the prepress department ensured a cohesive approach to implementing new innovative digital technologies."

Obviously, Hennegan approached the implementation of digital prepress with care, precision and an ever-present attention to quality. As an example of ingenuity and performance, Hennegan, certainly, is one commercial printer that stands above. Once more, nice job.

Hennegan's origins:

On a cold New Year's Day in 1886, three young men pooled their meager resources to found a small printing company in Cincinnati.

What John F. Hennegan, James H. Hennegan and James J. Kelly started in 1886 has today surpassed even their young and ambitious dreams—a nearly 400-employee-strong printing power. The Ott family members are direct descendants of James H. Hennegan.

Today, Bob Ott Sr. is chairman of the company, with sons Bob Ott Jr. serving as president and Kevin Ott as vice president. Hennegan reports its two new Kodak Approval XP4 digital halftone proofers from Kodak Polychrome Graphics have quadrupled the company's high-end digital proofing efficiency output, while, at the same time, have improved consistency of proof-to-proof output.

Hennegan's prepress power is directly attributed to solutions from BARCO Graphics and Creo. Hennegan's pressroom, primarily a Heidelberg shop, services clients the likes of Lockheed Martin and Johnson & Johnson.


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