US printer James Litho once again invests in digital and workflow technology from Heidelberg

Workflow integration with Prinect a success factor

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James Litho
U.S. printer James Litho is once again investing in digital and workflow technology from Heidelberg

In 2014, the small commercial printing business James Litho, based in Ontario in the US state of California, became one of the early users of digital printing technology from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg). Six successful years later, and with a capacity of 300,000 to 400,000 digital print sheets per month, the company recently installed a third digital press from Heidelberg – a Versafire EP – to replace an older Heidelberg system and complement the current Versafire CP.

Prinect workflow integration key to success

James Litho has a broad customer base on the Southern Californian market – from retailers and supermarkets to local manufacturers, municipalities, and universities. Although this has helped keep business steady during the Covid-19 pandemic, it also creates a dynamic range of customer demands. Supporting a wide selection of printing materials, the Versafire EP from Heidelberg offers the flexibility James Litho requires to caters to customers’ individual needs. “We have not come across any job that the Versafire is not able to run,” says Litho president Jeff James.

While the diverse range of substrates and high speeds of up to 135 A4 pages per minute played a key role in the decision to purchase a Versafire EP, James cites the two main factors behind the company’s investment in Heidelberg digital presses as cost-efficient operation and Prinect workflow integration with the company’s current Speedmaster SM 74 offset press.

A long-time Prinect user, James Litho recently upgraded its workflow to the subscription-based Prinect Production Manager, which gives the company access to the entire Prinect product portfolio while also ensuring up-to-date software at all times. The Versafire EP and Versafire CP from Heidelberg are both fully integrated into the Prinect workflow and are controlled via the Prinect Digital Frontend (DFE). Utilizing Heidelberg color management and renderers – both tried-and-tested solutions in offset printing – the Prinect DFE enables print production to be automated and standardized for excellent efficiency.

From imposition to colour management, it’s great having the Prinect integration between our offset and digital platforms. It’s so efficient, in fact, that we don’t have any dedicated digital press operators. Because of the common workflow platform, our prepress technicians prepare our digital jobs from their prepress workstations and send the jobs to print. With our high-capacity delivery, they just press a button and let the Versafire presses run,” explains James.

James Litho continues digitization process

In addition to Versafire and Speedmaster systems and the Prinect workflow, James Litho also operates Stahlfolder and POLAR cutters and has recently signed a contract for Prinect Business Manager. This reflects the company’s strategy of systematically digitizing its processes.

I think it’s an industry-wide issue that we are going to lose many technically skilled operators in printing in the very near future. Heidelberg has been thinking about this for years and is really the only company that’s developed all of its products with user-friendliness and automation in mind. From press, to postpress, to prepress – everything from estimating to job tickets – it’s just a complete system,” emphasizes James.

As James Litho looks to expand its offset business to include the 70 × 100 format in the near future, its goal is to have complete automation and digitization in all areas. “We know that with Heidelberg technology, having automated systems is what’s going to keep us successful and viable moving forward,” concludes James.

Jeff James started James Litho in 1997 after gaining decades of experience in the family printing business. The company offers lithography, digital wide format, short-run digital, trade show graphics, fulfillment & mailing, and layout & production services. The 30,000 square feet facility in Southern California employs a workforce of around 25 with an average of 15 years’ experience each. Quality, integrity, and personal attention are the hallmarks of a company that is proud of being 100 percent reliable 100 percent of the time. James Litho is quickly adapting to new objectives during challenging times for business, offering fresh solutions and relevant products, and speeding up turnaround times for urgent jobs.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

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