Sun Inc. — Integration Put to the Test

Sun’s management team (from the left) includes Philip Morris, VP/director of sales; Kathi Cook, secretary/treasurer; and Andy Cook, president/CEO; who are pictured here at their new Columbia, SC-based facility with a new Heidelberg XL 105 press.

VP Philip Morris and Secretary/Treasurer Kathi Cook inspect image quality at the console of a Heidelberg press at Sun’s recently opened 20,000-square-foot facility in Columbia, SC.

Even with the major commitment the management trio has made to developing a highly automated, interconnected printing process built on Heidelberg’s Prinect technology and enabled by the Job Definition Format (JDF), Cook still likes to refer to it as a theory. “If it works, this is going be the biggest change I’ve seen in the 35 years I’ve been in the printing business,” he says.

For Sun, that change starts with being able to enter job information one time and have it passed down the entire production line to drive presetting of all equipment. The same data is also used to direct palletizing and labeling of finished materials. However, it’s the reporting back capability that is of particular interest to Cook.

“I’ll be able to see an estimate when we enter a job, then, as soon as it’s shipped, I can get production information to compare back to that estimate,” the company’s president explains. “Every day, I’ll be able to get reporting back (from the plant) to tell me exactly how we are doing compared to what we estimated we’d be able to do.”

Cook is looking forward to receiving real-time production information, without depending on human intervention to record it. “If the theory materializes as they (Heidelberg) have assured me it will, I’ll be able to see how many waste sheets we had. How long it took to set the press up. What speed the press ran at. I believe this level of integration is going to be something that changes the face of printing,” he says.

Accountability is the primary reason Sun is relying on one vendor to put all of the pieces—hardware and software—together and provide the training needed by its staff. “We didn’t want anybody to point a finger at someone else and say, ‘This is not working because of them.’ Heidelberg made a tremendous investment in time and effort to ensure this theory materializes exactly as promised,” he reports.

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