Litho Press Inc. Adopts Inline Color Control with Lithec LithoFlash

Thursday 15. August 2019 - Litho Press Inc. began in 1953 as a commercial printer producing mostly brochures and catalogs for midwestern clients. In the 1990s, however, it altered course, moving into the packaging space, which remains its primary focus today.

One of the key elements to its success in labels and packaging has been the dedication to quality — and the Lithec LithoFlash inline system it recently installed on two of its four presses will enable them to take quality to the next level.
“Quality is absolutely critical in packaging,” says Bernie Lacy, President of Litho Press. “We decided to install the LithoFlash to not only help cut down on our makeready times, but also to ensure we have even greater color consistency throughout the entire run. With this installed, we can now print more jobs per day, and they are higher quality, with better color across the board.”
The LithoFlash is a camera inspection system that can be retrofitted on practically any sheet fed offset press. It reads the color bar automatically and sends the data to the press to make adjustments with the ink keys. “This is the second press we’re installing this system on,” says Lacy. “At first, it was an adjustment for our pressmen. Instead of pulling a sheet, placing it on the console, scanning the color bar, and make adjustments, it’s all happening on auto-pilot now.”
Lacy notes that its newest press, a Heidelberg 162, came equipped with an inline color control system, so when the time came to upgrade their other three presses, Litho Press decided to evaluate the LithoFlash system from Lithec. The first press they upgraded is a KBA 205. The most recent installation is on the shop’s Manroland 900XXL press. The goal, he says, is to eventually bring their Manroland 700 press onto the same inline Lithec color management platform.
“We’re almost 100% packaging today, so this is a critical upgrade to serve our current customer needs, as well as position us well for future work,” says Lacy. “With this system installed, we can push more work through at higher speeds and with less waste… all without needing to worry about the quality. This, in turn, will free up capacity for additional work.”
The jobs themselves, he notes, can range anywhere from 1,000 sheets up to as many as 100,000 sheets, and include everything from in-store signage and display pieces, to the retail packaging that appears on the shelves. Lacy notes that as the runs continue to get shorter, even in packaging, the ability to turn over jobs faster while maintaining the high level of quality is going to be a competitive advantage for the shop going into the future.
“The packaging industry is definitely a growth area right now,” says Lacy. “But it takes skilled craftsmen to run the presses, and it is getting harder and harder to find quality employees to manage things like color to our satisfaction. Anything we can do to automate the presses will only be to our advantage, which is why we’re making a variety of strategic investments in automation solutions across the business, with LithoFlash being one of the big components.
“Color management is more critical than ever before across the entire print industry, but none more so than packaging, where brand recognition can mean the difference between success and failure,” says John Sweeney, VP Sales, Lithec USA. “At the same time, while modern presses are incredibly advanced pieces of machinery, it is no secret to anyone that as the current generation of pressmen are retiring, there simply aren’t enough individuals interested in taking their place. Using Lithec technology, printers won’t need to sacrifice speed or quality as the industry continues to evolve in new and innovative ways.”
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