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Ensuring Excellence

Sep 1, 2010 12:00 AM


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Edison Lithographing & Printing Corp. (North Bergen, NJ), founded over 50 years ago, has built its reputation on doing more than paying lip service to quality and customer service. “We act on it,” says CEO George Gross. “Edison is not afraid of change, and we understand the need to be constantly moving forward. G7 has enabled us to provide our customers with the highest possible quality while not impeding our quick turnaround.”

Edison Litho's press fleet includes a 6-color KBA Rapida 205 and a 6-color KBA Rapida 162, each with inline aqueous coating, automatic plate changing and Densitronic closed-loop system control; a fully UV capable, automated KBA Rapida 205 that prints on up to 48-pt. substrates including paper, board, plastic and foil; a high-speed, 6-color, 40-inch press; and a Nebiolo 8-unit, 38-inch perfecting heatset web press. In prepress, the company produces ORIS Certified proofs using X-Rite's i1 color management technology and several proofing and platesetting devices. These include a Kodak Spectrum proofsetter, inkjet plotters up to 64 inches wide, and two large-format Kodak Magnus platesetters. KBA's LogoTronic carries image data through print production. Edison Litho also offers signage, a full range of finishing and in-house retail fulfillment/kitting. 

The company implemented the G7 method in May 2007. “We already had two KBAs, and while we felt this state-of-the-art machinery provided excellent color, we wanted to improve on it,” says quality assurance manager Roger Morel. He and the Edison Litho team worked with consultant Ron Ellis, who guided them through the steps. The goal was to standardize their control target and focus everyone in-house on the same standard. Next, they worked on getting as many customers on board as possible, so everyone would be speaking the same language.

While it took only three days to get up and running with the G7 method, Morel says, “After three years, we are still learning new things and improving our processes. Our corporate philosophy, ‘Excellence is a moving target,’ means we know that the closer we get to it, the more we can yet strive.”

Manufacturing vs. craft

“The most important change was to the mindset of our people,” says COO Joe Ostreicher. “You can't just do G7 some of the time. We need to follow it every day or it loses its value.” Edison Litho formalized checklists and procedures to ensure G7 was being followed consistently. “We needed to change some things in our operation to effectuate the G7 implementation,” Ostreicher explains, “but those things were minor compared to the return on investment.”

In the past, Edison Litho looked to color bars only to measure density. “Now we use them to get information about color rather than just density and dot gain,” says Morel. “Working with more than just the ink keys allows us to push the right amount of ink onto the sheet to achieve the desired ink density and still clean up the dot gain with the curves. This enables us to control the gains, plate by plate.” As a result, the press operators get to color more quickly and are able to minimize makeready times.

“Our procedures changed because our measurements became more informative and could enable us to move from the art of printing to printing as manufacturing,” says Morel. “This was perhaps the biggest change.”

Continuous discipline

Edison Litho's team maintains G7 calibration through regular monitoring. “Learning G7 is not difficult, but maintaining it takes discipline,” says Morel. The proofing and platesetting equipment is tested every morning before startup, and recalibrated as needed when press or proof conditions have changed.

“By having consistent aim points and process control targets, we can easily see if the press has drifted or other conditions have altered,” Morel explains. “At that point we can normally correct the situation on press, make mechanical adjustments, check the chemistry, or rebuild the plate curves to move back within our tolerance. With consistent press data collection and plotting, we are always in control of what's happening and can be proactive rather than reactive.”

The Edison Litho team considers substrate to be the greatest variable in applying the G7 method. “Creating consistent color across plastic, paper and board is where the most difficult issues arise in trying to match a G7 proof,” says Morel. They are watching for the IDEAlliance recommendation on this and highly brightened stocks, which also can pose a challenge.

Benefits all around

“Our change to G7 has been seamless, especially because many customers have adopted it as their own standard,” says Morel. For Edison Litho customers with their own custom print conditions, the shop automatically translates their color data into G7 through the Oris Press Matcher workflow, which generates DeviceLink profiles. “For one customer who was dug in and didn't want to change their design technology, we built a special translation,” he notes. “Since then, they have adopted G7.”

The benefits accrue to both Edison Litho and its customers. The makeready time savings enables better pricing and gets jobs though the plant faster. Customers are happy to see better color matching from proof to press and more consistent reruns. “When customers are printing pieces of their jobs elsewhere, sometimes using other methodology, as long as the target standard is the same, the results should be consistent,” Morel explains.

Edison Litho considers G7 to be a philosophy, or, as Ostreicher puts it, “A point of focus that everyone in the plant has to buy into for it to be successful. It's not something you use for ‘special customers’ or ‘certain jobs’ — it is the way you run your plant.”

See www.edisonlitho.com.


Denise Kapel is managing editor, AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at denise.kapel@penton.com.