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Exceeding expectations

Jun 1, 2006 12:00 AM

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Road Trip

This past February, Komori Corp. (Tokyo) hosted a press event at its two main manufacturing facilities. Twenty-five journalists from 15 countries visited the company’s Sekiyado and Tsukuba plants. In addition to touring the respective web and sheetfed manufacturing facilities, attendees got a preview of two new sheetfed perfectors Komori introduced at IPEX.

For books, magazines and more
Established in 1978, the Sekiyado plant produces 10 different web press models for publication, book and magazine applications. In 2005, according to Kazuyoshi “Kosh” Miyao, senior vice president, Komori USA, the company shipped 90 web presses, 70 of which were installed in Japan.

Presses are subjected to rigorous testing prior to installation, to ensure there will be no glitches when they arrive at customers’ plants. Once a web press is installed, it reportedly takes only two weeks for it to achieve full-time production status. Komori stressed makeready speed, noting its System 38S 16-page web achieves changeover in as little as seven minutes. A videotaped Drupa 2004 presentation showed the 38S completing three jobs in less than 15 minutes. System 38S is now available in “American” cutoffs of 239/16and 223/4.

Changing 8 plates in 3 minutes
Miyao detailed two key technologies that enable these speedy makereadies: the DoNet-based press interface, KHS-AI, as well as fully automatic plate changing (Full-APC). KSH-AI makes maximum use of electronic preset data. Once it has received job attributes, the control system reviews its database to get the optimal operational parameters for web guides, tensions, dryer settings and so on.

This self-learning feature ensures the press is using the best presets—the KHS-AI is constantly updating its database with the latest information for everything from ink key openings to chopper timing.

Full-APC allows one operator to change all eight plates in less than three minutes.

Much of the technology on the 16-page System 38S also can be found on its big brother, the 32-page 38/1250.

Large-format sheetfed presses
Located about an hour from Tokyo, Komori’s Tsukuba plant produces 40-inch and larger sheetfed presses. Construction began in 2002, and by December 2005, the facility was fully operational. The 38,000-sq.-meter site includes the factory, demo room, training room and employee facilities. The Tsukuba plant was built specifically to provide custom press configurations to customers in Europe and the United States on a timely basis.

In addition to a streamlined manufacturing process, Komori has cut lead times with a just-in-time production system and advanced information network.

Before the Tsukuba plant was completely online, Komori built its large-format presses at its Toride plant and reassembled them at the Tsukuba facility for testing and shipping. The Tsukuba plant now handles the complete manufacturing process, further contributing to overall efficiency. The new plant is environmentally friendly—solar and small-scale wind power reduce power consumption and CO2 emissions. Extensive oil and solid-waste recycling programs also are in place.

Sneak peek
Attendees also were given a preview of the presses Komori debuted at IPEX in May.

Komori launched its half-size press series, the Lithrone LS29, in straight and perfecting configurations. Many features from Komori’s full-size LS40 series have migrated to the smaller press. The 29-inch press features fully automatic plate changing—a first for Komori in this format. The Lithrone LS29’s speedy plate changing (four plates in 150 seconds) will enable users to tackle short-run, fast-turn jobs and, in some cases, compete with digital presses.

Other highlights:

  • 12,000 sph at start-up—the LS29 reportedly can reach 16,000 sph in seconds.
  • Six-minute changeover.
  • Skeleton transfer cylinders for maximum stock flexibility.
  • Three double-size perfecting cylinders for full-speed sheet transfer.
Komori also introduced Lithrone LS-40SP Super Perfector. The double-stacked press offers a compact footprint, five-minute fully automated plate changing across 10 units, minimal gripper changes and an output that’s reportedly competive with web press productivity.

An LS-40SP was used onsite at IPEX to produce the show daily, a 10,000 print run with two sections.

A new color management tool, the JDF-enabled PDC-SCII, builds on the company’s PDC-S Print Density Control Spectrophotometer. It provides high-speed measurement and feedback of ink density and color values.

In addition to the two new perfectors, attendees saw a six-color Lithrone S40 with coating and UV drying, an eight-color Lithrone S40P and a four-color SPICA 29P.

Getting connected
All of the presses showcased JDF workflows linked with multiple third-party suppliers. The DoNet Zone featured Hiflex, Tharsten and other MIS systems operating bi-directional JDF-based press management via the Komori K-Station. Other integrated equipment included Screen and Kodak prepress software, digital proofing, K-Color Profiling press calibration and the PDC-SII spectral densitometer. Connected finishing partners included Freidheim, Standard Horizon and Muller Martini.

Kando spells success
“Customer kando” is an ongoing Komori motto. Yoshiharu Komori, president of Komori Corp., said Komori measures its success in terms of kando, which means “moving” or “success.” “It implies more than customer satisfaction,” he said. “It means anticipating and fulfilling customer needs that go beyond satisfaction.”

A city that prints
Komori also arranged a visit to Leo Paper Group’s 160-acre facility in Guangdong, China. With offices in Seattle, New York, London and Antwerp (Belgium), the company’s core products include trade, board and pop-up books, stationery, gift items, game sets, packaging and paper bags. Work is generally sent from China to Europe by boat, typically taking about three weeks to arrive.

The $300 million company currently has 55 Komori presses and plans to add six more in the coming months. Leo also will add a KBA press and might add a Kodak NexPress, as well.

The plant’s first Komori press was installed in 1991. “I hesitated, because at that time Komori was a small potato,” recalled Samuel Leung, Leo’s founder and president. Beyond press speed, Leung was won over by a less tangible, but equally important, factor: “Our relationship with Komori goes beyond partner. They know what I need.”

Leo employs 15,000 people from all over China. About 20 percent live in company-provided dorms, a standard practice in some parts of Asia. In addition to its own fire and ambulance service, the Leo campus also has a convenience store, Internet café, library and sports facilities. Company officials stressed the company is “a respectable employer” in complete compliance with international and local labor laws—it is certified by Wal-Mart, Walt Disney and other multinational firms. On the manufacturing side, Leo has IMS accreditation, which comprises ISO9001:2000, ISO1400 and OHSAS18001.

While Leo’s name might be a new one to many North Americans, its work isn’t. In 2005, Leo Paper Group won a Best of Category Premier Print Award for “Egyptology,” a children’s book it produced for Templar Publishing. “Egyptology” also won a bronze Gold Ink Award, while another Leo entry, “Snow Bear’s Surprise,” won a Silver Award.