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MAN Execs Assess State of Industry

January 2007
CHICAGO—With a fresh snowfall on the ground, the Windy City provided a fitting seasonal backdrop for MAN Roland’s annual Editor’s Dinner. This time, the educational event and end-of-year celebration also served as a toast to Yves Rogivue, the press manufacturer’s then outgoing CEO, and Vince Lapinski, who took over the reins effective January 1.

In his parting remarks Rogivue, who has since returned home to work for Muller Martini in Switzerland, challenged industry companies to make some noise and shake things up with new technology.

“CIM (computer-integrated manufacturing) is the cornerstone upon which the future of this industry will be built,” Rogivue said. “Implementing CIM cuts costs and improves profitability.”

Several key points stood out for Rogivue in assessing the current state of the U.S. printing industry. In his estimation:

• A greater emphasis on education efforts at all levels is needed.

• Due to pressure by alternative media, The Print Council is an important initiative that needs to continue.

“I believe the industry associations should speak with one voice. We have seen some consolidation, but I’ll have to leave it to Vince (Lapinski) to finish this job,” Rogivue concluded.

Lapinski offered a similar take on the critical market trends and the outlook for MAN Roland. He is seeking to increase the focus on people and process improvement through continued advocacy of CIM.

“We (as an industry) need to build processes that make the best use of technology,” he asserted. “We (MAN Roland) are placing more emphasis on training, both for our internal staff and customers. Sheetfed printers need help getting operators comfortable with new systems. That is required to get maximum productivity out of the latest technology.”

In Lapinski’s view, package printing holds opportunities for commercial printers and printing on plastics is a growth market. He also sees opportunities for printers in the capability overlap between long perfecter sheetfed and 16-page web presses, adding that MAN Roland offers both solutions.

For today’s market, in-line capabilities are an important trend in sheetfed printing technology, Lapinski added. This includes systems for quality control and finishing.

To see some of these industry trends in action, the event included a trip to Accord Carton in Alsip, IL. This packaging shop added a MAN Roland 900 six-color, 56˝ sheetfed press as one component of the $6.5 million investment it made last year to upgrade its capabilities.

The company has more than doubled its sales, to around $15 million in 2006, since moving into a new facility two years ago. One of the big selling points of its current facility, a former Keebler plant, is an automated materials handling system that can store more than 13,000 pallets of finished goods.

The automated pallet storage and retrieval system uses automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to move materials to and from a set of racks five stories high (75 feet) and covering the length of a football field. Accord bought brand new pallets to use with the system because their condition impacts its performance.

According to Robert Codo, Accord’s president, Keebler had invested $15 million in the warehousing system. It is controlled by a computer system that tracks materials in real-time and enables the printer’s customers to view inventory levels online. Alerts can be set to warn when inventories are getting old.

A secondary benefit of the system is that it reduces the potential for damage being done to packages. “We have one client who had used another supplier that had to double stack skids, which warped the cartons and caused feeding problems,” Codo explains.

The printer routinely only uses a fraction of the storage capacity so it has plenty of room to grow. This also gives Accord the flexibility to serve customers with seasonal needs. One of its client’s is an ice cream cone company that the shop will print and inventory around a million cartons for in the spring so the packaging is ready to meet summer demand.

Moving into a former food processing plant had the additional benefit of helping the printer to pass an AIB (American Institute of Baking) inspection for food safety. Its primary customer bases are companies in the pharmaceutical, dry food and cosmetic markets.

Accord’s new MAN Roland 9000 press is kept in near continuous operation, Codo reports. “This press can crank out a lot of work. We’ve now moved our production log jam to diecutting, so we’re adding a new Bobst diecutter next.”

This press was the shop’s first experience with closed-loop color control, says the company president. “We love it. Makeready only takes 30 minutes for a job that’s being rerun or 45 minutes for a new job. We’re considering retrofitting our other press with this capability.”

A new sheeter was installed at the same time as the press. “We’re getting tighter cut off tolerances, less paper dust on sheets and better performance of sheets on press,” Codo notes. “We don’t hear any more complaints from press operators about sheet quality.”

The company president says he believes in getting the best technology. Its paying off, since the company is targeting sales of $18 million to $20 million in 2007, partly fueled by the changes in allergen reporting requirements that makes current packaging obsolete.
 

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