Effects of the newly introduced waterless printing – annual cost reduction of approximately 60 million yen
PrintNet achieves eight-fold annual sales in six years
CEO Odawara joined the company in 1985 so that he could pass down a family business. He began receiving orders online through Rakuten, the online shopping company, in 2003. Later, he started his own online site “PrintNet.” As soon as he launched the site, he received an order of one million business forms from a life insurance company. He managed to complete the order by running a Komori Lithrone S40 around the clock for 10 days straight.
“That was when I decided to deal only with online orders,” recalled Odawara. He completed the order at a price that only large printing companies could offer with the use of a single computer. This motivated him to switch to online orders only.
In 2008, he changed his company name to PrintNet. He founded his main factory in the industrial park in Uenohara City, Yamanashi Prefecture and introduced the Komori Lithrone SP (perfecting, eight colors). Entry into the metropolitan areas brought the online order-based business to the next level and the company achieved performance beyond expectations, including a four-fold sales jump compared with the previous year.
His company had a growing number of regular customers. In May 2015, when the number of clients hit 30,000, he moved the headquarters from Aira City to Kagoshima City and purchased an entire four-story building for his business. At the same time, he improved the management system, expanded customer centers, and increased the number of staff at the DTP (desktop publishing) center in Dalian, China. In the six years after 2004 when he started his online order business through 2010, sales grew eight-fold.
Waterless machine produces 750 jobs every month
In March 2011, the Uenohara factory was extended and the Komori Lithrone SX40RP (perfecting, eight colors) was introduced. In July, the Komori Lithrone SP (perfecting, eight colors) was switched to waterless printing and the factory was equipped with a hybrid UV Lithrone S40 and a Lithrone SX40RP.
On July 3, 2011, the waterless Lithrone SP was operated day and night throughout an entire month to produce an average of three sets per hour, totaling 750 sets. It now exceeds the production of the hybrid UV (Lithrone SX40RP) and the Lithrone S40 was also switched to waterless in September.
Inomata, a product manager, pointed out that it is difficult to decide the better of the two between waterless printing and hybrid UV printing when it comes to productivity.
“As long as the machine is in good condition, including the rollers, the waterless machine can maintain its speed with 12,000 revolutions and that’s not all. If you consider the quick drying ink, zero blocking, and the toning quality, it’s almost the same as the UV. In the case of coated paper, we can start cutting the paper within 50 minutes after finishing waterless printing.”
Yoichi Odawara, CEO
Annual sales record of 120 million yen for one color-unit
In general, when the number of jobs (orders) increases, printing businesses need to increase the number of machines accordingly. However, PrintNet has owned only four B1 sized machines (24 color-units) for the last seven years. A printing business that boasts 150 employees and three billion yen in sales revenue has machines of no more than 24 color-units. Regardless of whether it is an on-the-ground printing company or online printing company, it is natural to suspect that the company may suffer from a shortage of machines. Odawara’s key to success for enormous profits was to print at the highest speed, despite only 24 color-units, and to operate those machines around the clock.
His policy was to achieve the goal of “120 million yen per year for one color-unit.” The company acquired its certification from Japan Color. The basic principles are to keep the value within the delta range with no arbitrary color adjustments and no color samples from other companies. In this way, he established a production system outputting two to seven jobs per machine. He explained. “Waterless printing, in particular, processes registration and color adjustments simultaneously. This means two jobs can be produced per hour for a job of 3,000 sheets. In the case of the wet offset printing of perfecting eight-color machine, the time is sufficient for only one job. Waterless printing is required in order to produce more than at least 1.5 jobs per hour.”
Then he added, emphasizing the cost reductions.
“Since the introduction of waterless printing, the benefits include matching registration and color at the same time, ghost prevention, reduced make-ready time for printing, reduced paper loss, and operator training. Further advantages include no use for plate developing solution, dampening solution, or IPA. No dempening rollers are required, there is reduced roller maintenance, and there is zero emulsion problem.
Komori Lithrone LS40SP
Komori Lithrone SX40RP
Annual cost reduction of 60 million yen
Odawara stated. “In terms of material cost, we don’t need to pay for dampening solution and we don’t need to maintain the dampening rollers, which saves approximately 500,000 yen per month. Above all, though, there is no need to purchase more machines thanks to the introduction of waterless printing and this has resulted in maximum cost reduction effects. The operation of an eight-color perfecting machine in a dampening system would produce only one job per hour. Thus, another machine would be necessary to complete the job. A single waterless eight-color machine can process two jobs per hour, eliminating the need for an equipment extension.
Introducing one more eight-color machine would result in approximately 25 million yen in annual depreciation costs and another 25 million yen for labor costs associated with six additional employees, in other words, 50 million yen in regular extra costs. Paper wastes would cost approximately 7.35 million yen annually, dampening solution 520,000 yen, and maintaining the dampening rollers about 200,000 yen. The waterless machine saved all of these costs.”
Another key factor that made annual sales of 120 million yen for one color-unit possible was the technical maintenance and issue prevention activities performed once every two months. Further, the company prints out the chart provided by Japan Color each month in order to ensure production quality and to operate the factory without technical issues. PrintNet has reversed the custom of increasing the number of machines based on order volume. It produces an average of two jobs per hour by running the waterless eight-color machine at a maximum speed of 12,000 revolutions for combined orders.
Quantity production and high product quality realized through waterless printing
There is a constantly growing number of online printing companies. Regardless of this fact, PrintNet has stayed on top both in terms of sales and popularity among customers, solidifying its growth strategy.
“We work to simultaneously increase our regular customers and discover the customer group that accounts for 60% of non-online orders in the printing industry,” stressed Odawara. In the production line, we stick to the maximum printing speed and order combinations while realizing high-quality production, including registration quality, density, delta value, and the high trapping quality desired by customers.”
The other reason for switching to waterless printing was to maintain high quality, which is fundamental for the company’s growth strategy. Odawara also expressed his expectations for waterless UV printing as the ideal form of printing.