Waterless printing was indispensable in improving our operations so as to allow advance of the “One-stop Products System.”
Nikkei Printing Inc
August 2008 saw completion of Nikkei Printing’s new plant Graphic Garden (G2) on a plot in the Ukima-Funado area in Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward. The person responsible for the new plant’s concept design was the famous architect Kiyonori Kikutake, designer of the Edo-Tokyo Museum and general producer of The 2005 World Exposition, Aichi.
People viewing this new company premise, located on a site measuring some 3,000 square meters, might mistakenly take it to be the main building in the Omote-Sando Hills complex transported to the new site. But once you enter the building, you’re entranced by the simple floor layout, coloring and space, enjoying an atmosphere that seems as if the 20th century Bauhaus design had been reborn in a new age. You also take notice of a design with emphasis on functionality, which allows production lines ranging from the topmost fourth floor down to the first floor. It was Shimizu Corporation that designed and executed the new plant. Among visitors coming to see the new facilities there were those who sighed in admiration, saying the new operation has totally overturned conventional thinking about a printing company!
President Hayashi explains that the G2 is a base for one-stop production ranging from design and DTP to printing, binding and delivery. In order that this production system can function smoothly and rationally, the plant operates with systems for such aspects as security management, environmental burden reduction management, and materials procurement inventory management.
Customers have changed from partial orders to blanket orders.
The slogan “one-stop products” has now taken firm root in the printing industry. Nevertheless, among customers who have recognized the company’s production system as a classic model of the one-stop products system in name and fact, there are those companies who have changed from partial orders to blanket orders. All rooms in the entire building are open and closed with IC cards, and a crime-prevention system operates in emergencies. There are also CWS (Contents Watcher Smart) systems to prevent data leaks. This shows how the company has taken various measures to prevent leakage of information. What’s more, all data entrusted to them is guarded by a foolproof security system that includes storage and surveillance.
At the end of March 2008, when the company was pressed to decide on what equipment to introduce in the new plant, President Hayashi brought in new equipment in the form of one Heidelberg XL75-8P and two Lithron SP (2x2). He had thus decided on waterless printing machines. There were demands from the working site saying that, because the paper extends and contracts with B-size super perfector, registration was difficult. In response to those demands, the company decided on waterless printing, the Heidelberg XL75-8P, which was considered as an advance in “offset on-demand” printing to shorten the time up to completion of printing. Just after adoption, the press was outputting about 4,500 waterless plates a month.
Nevertheless the true goal in implementing waterless printing lies elsewhere.
Komori Lithron 44SP
A supply chain management system unique to the printing industry.
“Since last year, the company has been working on the operational improvements known as NPS (Nikkei Production System). I realized, however, that this operational improvement is another version of supply chain management applicable to printing industry. With this in mind, I thought that introduction of waterless printing would be indispensible in developing this effort,” Hayashi said with confidence and becoming eloquent as he listed the reasons for the decision.
“As you might know, the supply chain for manufactures starts with procurement of product materials, and feature a flow of operations ranging from planning and development, design and production to distribution, disposal and recycling. In the printing industry, too, we start with procurement of materials like ink and plates and then continue in a flow that submission of artworks, DTP, machine plate, printing, binding, finish processing, distribution, disposal and recovery. The aspect that I paid particular attention to in this flow was procurement of materials. We therefore established three clear standards for such materials procurement. The first is eliminating all factors that hamper productivity. The second is operations that directly connect up with a reduction in the environmental burden. And the third involves keeping costs to a minimum when calculating cost price. It was with the waterless offset plate that we were finally able to achieve those procurement standards.”
This reflects President Hayashi’s strong will to successfully implement a printing industry version of supply chain management, which led to the introduction of waterless printing equipment.
Paying attention to the carbon footprint in operations.
But the improvements and innovations didn’t stop there.
With this supply chain management system as the basis, the company also paid attention to operational developments that would take the carbon footprint (CFP) into account.
“Nowadays, all the manufacturers and distributors, in efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, have changed to procurement of materials with low carbon discharge, and are coming up with measures to reduce that burden in distribution and production processes. As a result, there are moves now to introduce systems to clearly mark the carbon footprint on the product and thus indicate how much CO2 discharges have been reduced compared to previous years.”
AEON Co., Ltd. and Sapporo Breweries. Ltd., two companies that responded to movements to institutionalize the carbon footprint system which had its start under the initiative of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, announced trial products last year featuring a CFP mark listing CO2 emission reductions amounts. They plan this year to carry out test introduction of the products to the market. In the printing industry, an autonomous working group was launched in April of this year.
“There is now an international trend of clearly indicating the carbon footprint on printed materials as numerical values showing the actual reduction in CO2 emission amounts. This includes reduction in power used by printing equipment, reduced ink usage volumes including non-VOC inks, and reducing paper waste amounts. Now we plan to bring CFP into line with supply chain management which can promote more efficient operations as we further develop,” Hayashi says.
One of the first steps in that direction was moving to the use of non-VOC inks employed in waterless printing with the Speedmaster XL75. In April of this year, Kazuto Aoki of the G2 Printing Department made a request for testing versions of non-VOC ink form DIC Corporation and has continued improvements on a regular basis since then.
“Improving the ink not only deals with basic issues of printing, such as solving problems with soiling while speeding up drying. It also aims to keep ink consumption volumes to a minimum and reduce costs. In addition, we were working under truly severe conditions that included reducing the VOC emission amounts more than that of other non-VOC, with improvements carried out in collaboration with DIC Corporation. We are just a step away from a working version,” says Aoki in recounting the half-year process of improvements carried out with DIC.
Today, the company enjoys yearly business amounting to 8.8 billion yen and has a staff of 397 persons. Hayashi was the one who realized such amazing growth for the company. As a person who entered the printing industry from a different business field and created the present business in just one generation, Hayashi has no equal in the business world.