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Integration of Offset Printing and Bizhub PRESS by Apogee

Harata-Printing-CoJapanese commercial printer Harata Printing Co., based in Osaka, is keeping the focus on offset print business, while aggressively promoting and steadily expanding its digital print business. Agfa Graphics’ Apogee software helps them to establish an optimized workflow and to be successful in process improvements.

“The main business of our company is offset printing and we use digital presses for short run, quick turnaround color jobs as well as for black & white jobs,” says Suzuno Harata, CEO of the company. “We have two digital color presses, the bizhub PRESS C7000 and C6000. We started in-house printing jobs on the bizhub PRESS C7000 that used to be outsourced. The C6000 is mainly used for design proofs and color checks. bizhub PRESS provides prints with less glossiness and its color is close to that offset inks. This is an advantage for an offset printer like us in terms of practical usage. We have two black & white digital presses too: a bizhub PRO 951 and a bizhub PRESS 1250. We often had to outsource black & white jobs after our light-duty offset press broke down, but now, with the 1250, we can print them ourselves.”

Integration of offset and digital print using Apogee for automated workflow

Before workflow improvement: a lot of manual labor

“Our digital press team planned to use the imposition software we already had and originally employed for offset printing (brand A) in combination with a CtP Workflow RIP (Brand B), but we found that the system was not so easy to utilize unless the team has sufficient knowledge of CtP. To cope with this problem, the team adopted a process where pages were first imposed using InDesign and then exported to PDF. After being opened and checked, this PDF was sent to Bizhub PRESS C7000 for output via printer driver. This meant that the operator needed to manually perform imposition, checks and print operation of a vast volume of pages. This resulted in increased work time and a greater risk of human error, and often made it necessary to go back to previous processes.”

apogeeAfter workflow improvement: time to process more jobs in-house
Suzuno Harata continues: “Thanks to Apogee, the integration of offset printing and digital processing made imposition work much easier. For example, even brochures of several hundred pages can now be produced smoothly once the template is ready. While, in the past, more time was often spent on preparation than printing, now jobs are quickly transferred to the printing process. As a result, we are now capable of handling jobs of high page counts which we had to outsource to subcontractors before. At the same time, human errors and labor for tasks other than imposition have also been cut down. The digital press team is thus motivated to increase in-house processing because the imposition process is automatically completed while another job is being printed. Labor-saving and reduced man-hours in effect allow us to process all jobs in-house.”

Doubling the productivity and revenue

“Integration of offset printing and digital workflow using Apogee almost doubled the productivity on the bizhub PRESS. With two presses operating at full capacity, jobs are seamlessly processed in parallel to imposition work, enabling us to take on all jobs including those that we rejected in the past due to overflow. The result is increased operation rate and fewer human errors, leading to a steady increase in sales. Apogee is also capable of ‘profile’ setting, which provides us with the considerable advantage of consistent color reproduction, whether output directly or via pdf. Because more time is available due to resolution of issues concerning color reproduction and imposition work, we can spend more time on machine maintenance and front-to-rear registration checks, leading to less print waste. Customers often request that we use the same paper for digital printing as for offset, and this means that we have to set a different paper and size each time. It is, therefore, extremely important for us to have a workflow that can manage front-to-rear registration issues with ease.” Looking at the future, Mrs Harata says: “We plan to increase the number of jobs output from Apogee and printed on bizhub PRESS. As well as handling increased volumes of offset printing, we plan to take on preceding and variable printing.

“At Agfa Graphics we’re dedicated to offer our customers like Harata Printing a streamlined workflow supporting all types of output devices. The open and constructive relation between Agfa Graphics and Konica Minolta results in a powerful customer-oriented solution. Apogee masters production preparation and management while Konica Minolta has the right feature set for digital print production” says Erik Peeters, Marketing Manager Commercial-Security Software