Innovators don’t come to their plants in the morning saying to themselves, “Today, I’m going to innovate.” That’s not what innovation is about. It’s more a reflex than a behavior — a continuous state of mind that leads both deliberately and serendipitously to transformative results.
The printing industry’s innovators are energetic, inquisitive, and intrepid people who don’t wait for things to happen. Sometimes they strategize outcomes. At other times, facing threat or opportunity, they instinctively choose the right course of action. Either way, these relentless innovators always manage to achieve something that lifts their companies to new levels of capability, performance, and profitability.
The accounts of 12 businesses that exemplify innovation in the printing industry came together in the October issue of Printing Impressions. All of the profiles, one of which appears below, are based on interviews with the sources and on their responses to questionnaires filled out in support of their applications to be selected as Printing Impressions’ “Innovator of the Year” for 2019.
Innovation is rightly associated with digital printing, but it would be a gross error of judgment to assume that a plant with limited digital capability couldn’t be just as innovative as a shop possessing a room full of digital equipment. Look no further than Kingery Printing for proof that innovation is alive and well in conventional offset environments.
Kingery’s offset assets are formidable: four heatset web presses; one 20˝ and two 40˝ sheetfed presses; and the star of the sheetfed department, a 40˝, 10-color Koenig & Bauer Rapida Pro 105 perfector installed in 2018. Coming off these presses in large volumes are commercial products such as magazines, catalogs, books, menus, nutritional guides, and tourism brochures.
Michael C. Kingery, president, sees the most growth occurring in sheetfed thanks to the high productivity of the Koenig & Bauer Rapida 105, an automated, LED-UV machine that replaced four legacy presses. Offset as a whole accounts for 98% of the company’s output, with the remainder produced on a small-format toner press (a Heidelberg Versafire).
Kingery says he doesn’t rule out expansion in digital, especially as production inkjet grows more attractive. But, for now, he points to three areas in which he believes the company is in the vanguard technologically. They’re in keeping with his view that being innovative means having “the willingness to challenge the status quo to create internal efficiencies and value for our customers.”
LED-UV printing. The company was, according to Kingery, one of the first to retrofit a sheetfed press for LED-UV curing. That successful experiment led to the acquisition of the Koenig & Bauer Rapida 105, which he says gets a 30% increase in productivity by virtue of the instant, on-press drying that LED-UV makes possible. This is on top of sharply reduced makereadies and other efficiencies that enable the press to handle an average of 27 jobs per day, with run lengths in the 3,700-copy range.
Workflow management and customer interface. The challenge here, says Kingery, was to “develop a job workflow that provides answers for our clients and internal staff in real-time, be accessible 24/7, and organize our two plants with one common workflow.” The solution, called mykpc, is a platform that lets internal staff eliminate production bottlenecks, while giving customers a portal for tracking the progress of their jobs.
Developed by company programmers, mykpc is designed to consolidate the disjointed “islands of information” that exist throughout printing plants and sometimes make it difficult to obtain a global picture of operations. Kingery says that by providing this overview, mykpc enables staff at both of the company’s plants to pinpoint where logjams are occurring and dedicate resources to break them.
The external part of mykpc is a 24/7 access point where clients can find out everything they want to know about the status of their jobs, from origination through delivery. Automated notifications keep them in touch with order confirmation, file upload, proof approval, and other job-related milestones.
Inventory control. Kingery says that by tracking the movement of pallets within and between the two plants, the company’s inventory control system turns the typical search for needed production materials from a 20- to 30-minute stab in the dark into a “30-second lookup.” WiFi-enabled tablets on forklift trucks help operators locate all pallets and skids associated with a job.