- Third generation family run printer estimates 50% reduction in makeready
- First Koenig & Bauer Rapida to be delivered in late summer to Kansas City headquarters
- Fastest 41” press on the market will deliver sheets two times faster than current press
Kansas City is well known for being the home of some of the nation’s most iconic brands: the recognizable crown on Hallmark Cards, the delicious line of crème-filled cakes from Hostess, the dynamic Kansas City Chiefs football team, its slew of mouth-watering steak houses, and birthplace to important American figures such as President Harry Truman and PGA pro golfer Tom Watson. It is also the proud headquarters of Allied Litho, a well-established third generation commercial printer firmly rooted in its Midwest values of producing the highest quality, providing excellent customer service and fast turn time, and remaining loyal to its nationwide clientele.
Left to right: The Allied Litho team of CEO Tim Heier; Phil Greathouse, plant manager/sales; and Matt King, production/plant manager; chose a new Koenig & Bauer Rapida 106 41-inch press for its speed---fast turnaround, fast makeready, fast flexibility to switch between a variety of different jobs, and improved efficiency.
“We’ll be celebrating our 70th anniversary in business this year,” says Tim Heier, Allied Litho’s CEO, “and one of our very first clients in 1949 was Hallmark Cards. This established our reputation as a leading trade lithographer. Since then, we’ve grown to produce all types of commercial and large format work: top sheet litho laminates and corrugated board work, labels to point-of-purchase displays, posters to magazine inserts, to name a few. Our location in the middle of the country allows us to quickly and easily reach all of our clients.”
As the firm has continued to expand its roster of clientele throughout the country, it has driven its success by adding new equipment that can appropriately handle the wide mix of commercial print work coming its way. Later this summer, its pressroom will be enhanced with a new Koenig & Bauer Rapida 106 41-inch press---dubbed the makeready champion for its lightning-fast speed at 18,000 sph.
“We foresee this press giving us a competitive advantage in the market and providing us with new opportunities that we didn’t have before,” says Heier. “It will definitely be a workhorse press for us.”
To underscore this mandate, Allied has set itself apart by ordering a specially-configured 41-inch press that gives it the ability to print paper, plastics, and board, UV equipped throughout for maximum flexibility and a competitive edge in the marketplace, and is equipped with Koenig & Bauer’s industry-leading automation and technology. Allied’s press configuration is designed with six printing units, then a coating unit, followed by a printing unit, and finally a second coating unit. This specialized configuration will provide Allied with increased capabilities and ability to produce a broader range of substrates ranging from 60 lb. label up to 48 pts; paper, plastics, and packaging.
But what was of prime importance to Allied in choosing a new 41-inch press was speed---fast turnaround, fast makeready, fast flexibility to switch between a variety of different jobs, and improved efficiency. “That’s the biggest trend in our market,” says Heier. “Getting customer files on press quickly and providing the fastest turn time and reducing makeready. We conservatively estimate that our new Rapida 106 will be 50% faster than our existing 40-inch press due to its tremendous automation, inline color control, and register. The new Rapida 106 will provide us with fully automatic plate change on all plates in under two minutes. Our operators are as excited as are we.”
Heier and his team believe that the popular Koenig & Bauer QualiTronic inline color control system will ignite speed and increase efficiency on their new press because it will automatically read every sheet thus allowing the highest integrity of print available on the market. To network all of its operations together, the new production planning and control software LogoTronic Professional will serve as an expert workflow solution acting as the link between Allied’s MIS, pre-press, print, and postpress departments. Job, material, scheduling and PPF data are acquired from the MIS and prepress, and provided to the presses in the form of job lists and presetting data. LogoTronic Professional subsequently returns real-time production and resource data to the MIS. It will give Allied’s management team a 360° perspective of its entire operation.
Another important aspect on the new Rapida 106 was to have a full UV system. With no UV system on the current 40-inch press, Allied needed to take its 40-inch UV jobs and upsize them to match the larger presses. This was not only inefficient but time consuming. With the new Rapida 106, Allied will have a Koenig & Bauer custom designed VariDry UV technology solution custom designed to match the uniquely configured press and both manufactured and completely warrantied directly by Koenig & Bauer.
But the path toward a new press was not always straight and narrow. “We initially intended to purchase a 40-inch five-over-five perfector press,” says Matt King, Allied Litho’s production/plant manager. “But when we re-evaluated that decision along with the experts in sales solutions and product management at Koenig & Bauer, we determined that only 10% of our work is two-sided while 90% is one-sided and would race through the new 18,000 sph Rapida press being much faster and more flexible.”
Headquartered along three-fourths of a city block, Allied’s three industrial buildings tie together the firm’s historic past and its successful current stage. Its original building used to be a streetcar barn from the early 1900s where train tracks carried vehicles along E. 9th St that needed to be repaired. Allied still has those historically-significant tracks running through its facility. Additional growth to next-door buildings in 1985 and 1995 provide the 65,000 sq ft facility in which Allied’s employees produce its work today.
For many of its most recent years, Allied has been loyal to purchasing presses from a Koenig & Bauer competitor. When they decided to purchase a new 40-inch model, management chose to broaden its choices and evaluate all three major press manufacturers. Allied’s top trio of executives visited two of Koenig & Bauer’s leading customers with similar configurations to gain a better understanding of the press mechanism and Koenig & Bauer’s corporate culture. “We were very impressed with the overall construction of the press and the unique automated technology as well as the firm’s technicians and managers and their passion to support their customers,” says Heier. “That was a deciding factor. What narrowed our decision was visiting current Koenig & Bauer customers that have had such amazing results internally and externally for their own customers.”
Steve Korn, Koenig & Bauer’s Director of National and Key Accounts, adds, “This new Koenig & Bauer Rapida 106 press investment made by Allied Litho signals, once again, that one of the most known printers has made the switch to Koenig & Bauer. We are proud that Allied Litho has chosen to invest with Koenig & Bauer to provide access to higher technology for its existing and growing roster of clients. We are truly honored to be part of Allied Litho’s capital investment strategy. This investment will drive further manufacturing efficiencies, and provide greater capacity with the latest industry leading sheetfed press technology."
He continues, "We at Koenig & Bauer (US) appreciate the new partnership that we’ve forged with Allied Litho. We congratulate Tim Heier and his entire team on what they’ve accomplished, their remarkable growth in both sales and physical facilities, and even more important, on their extremely talented associates who relentlessly focus on customer service and satisfaction each and every day. We are certain that this new Koenig & Bauer Rapida 106 press will efficiently drive more volume through Allied Litho’s production facility, fuel ongoing growth, and continue Allied Litho’s high quality and on-time service for many years to come."
When the new Rapida 106 press arrives later this summer, it will be central to Allied’s future growth — increasing the company’s core 41-inch business, adding innovation, agility and efficiency, and providing new capabilities to leverage the company’s strong commercial mix of work.
For 70 years, Allied Litho has been a Midwest leader for high quality standard and large-format lithography. Headquartered in Kansas City, MO, the firm began in 1949 with two brothers, George and Chuck Heier, a used single-color press, a multi-lith and a very important trade client: Hallmark Cards. The reputation as “Lithographer for the Trade” carried great responsibility and challenge: new presses and expansion, while still maintaining excellent quality to keep trade clients more successful and more profitable. As demand for multi-color printing grew rapidly through the next few decades, Allied built and maintained a growing customer base through steady expansion of production facilities, equipment capabilities and increased bindery services. Today, the firm caters to nationwide clientele, from labels to point-of-purchase displays and posters to magazine inserts. The staff at Allied Litho is committed to providing cost effective solutions for all large format and printing needs.