How Komori's Innovative Manufacturing Produces Innovative Presses
Just north of Tokyo, a combination of automation, mechanics, and research and development have led to a printing press manufacturing facility that fully embraces the evolution of Industry 4.0. Komori’s facility in Tsukuba, Japan, has centralized the company’s production of its sheetfed offset, web offset, and banknote printing presses under one roof, along a non-stop assembly line.
The plant started small when it opened in 2002, and it took four years for its machinery and employees to be put in place prior to 40˝ press production beginning in 2006. But by 2009, complete production in the facility was underway, and currently all of Komori’s R&D, sheetfed, web, banknote, and printed electronics production are located in Tsukuba, along with the Komori Graphic Technology Center for global demonstration, and its training center.
Through a highly-automated production process, which includes just-in-time parts ordering, digital parts picking, and computer guided transport with the help of automated guided vehicles, the Tsukuba plant allows for all units it produces —sheetfed, web, and banknote — to be manufactured on the same assembly line.
According to Jun Sudo, sales manager for Komori Corporation’s EMEA & North America section, Subsidiaries Sales Department, and Overseas Sales Group, the just-in-time process and assembly line system provides Komori the ability to produce highly-customized presses for its customers.
“This is the first line of sheetfed offset, web offset, and security presses,” Sudo says. “The assembly line enables custom configurations and ensures synergy through just-in-time parts ordering and digital parts picking.”
Throughout the facility in Tsukuba is evidence of Komori’s mantra of bringing “Kando,” — going beyond expectations — to its customers. For example, the facility features a testing area, in which all printing units are assessed prior to being shipped to a customer. This, Sudo explains, allows for a shorter setup time at the customer site, as any troubleshooting on the press can be done prior to installation.
According to Jacki Hudmon, senior VP of sales for Komori America, part of the inspiration for establishing such a highly-automated manufacturing platform comes from printers’ increasing need for automation and efficiency in their own production.
“We’re practicing what we preach,” Hudmon says. “When we talk with our customers about improving, we also need to make our products in a more efficient way.”
A Source For Solutions
With the Tsukuba plant serving as the heart of Komori’s research and development, the facility has been instrumental in delivering some of the company’s most innovative solutions.
One of the latest developments on the horizon for Komori is its KP-Connect platform, a software solution the company describes as “connected automation.” Under development in two forms, the KP-Connect Pro platform allows for real-time sharing of operating information. The Pro platform also allows for scheduling and results monitoring for digital and offset systems. KP-Connect is also available in a basic configuration, which allows both the printer and Komori to view operating information. This provides for collaboration between Komori and the customer for production improvements.
As Peter Minis, marketing manager for Komori International (Europe), explains, the Tsukuba-based Komori Graphic Technology Center serves as a hub for research and development, training, and customer education. Utilizing this resource, he says, Komori continues to deliver the automation, efficiency, and quality its customers need.
“We listen to what’s happening in the market,” Minis says. “We look at how we can differentiate ourselves and utilize the Graphics Center for that.”