"In order to prevail on the market, you have to keep making your mark and always be ahead of the curve. Innovations and good ideas are a prerequisite for this" – this is "Article 1" of the corporate policy of the LONGO printing house. Founded a good 60 years ago in Bolzano in South Tyrol, the printer lives this principle with passion.
For example, LONGO was the first printing company in Italy to produce press proofs on an offset machine – and Augsburg-based Longo Deutschland GmbH has been consistently developed into a competence center for digital printing, print-on-demand, large format printing and e-commerce. The company has long since moved away from a pure print shop and now serves its customers as a media service provider.
While high-volume offset jobs are produced at the headquarters, the 22-strong team in Augsburg handles print jobs with runs of 1,000 copies – and smaller, much smaller. The efficient handling of such jobs is hardly feasible without a high-performance, IT-based infrastructure and the extensive automation of processes.
The decision for Keyline
LONGO Germany used a traditional MIS early on, but over the years the system proved to be too slow and cumbersome. Two employees were occupied just with the entry of orders. In addition, the system was unable to cover the entire value chain of a print shop.
With the decision for the cloud-based Keyline, all this became different. LONGO Germany CEO Helfried Prünster: "From calculation to production and finishing to shipping, we now run all processes via Keyline. Quotations are now often with the customer in just a few minutes. At the same time, we can compare in a snap which of our presses is more cost-effective – for example, digital sheetfed or webfed printing." Two Ricoh 7200SX presses for sheetfed printing and a Xeikon 8500 for web printing form the backbone of LONGO Germany's press fleet.
Prünster has positive remembrances of the implementation of Keyline: "I have never experienced the onboarding of a software like this before. We had planned one day per week for it. The first appointment was in mid-November 2019, and by the beginning of April 2020 everything was already running via Keyline. One reason for this is Keyline's clear interface and structure. Everything is very easy to use, and we were also able to do the machine setup ourselves."
40 percent via corporate printing portals
At LONGO Germany, some 60 percent of orders come from the classic commercial sector, packaging printing and book production. The other 40 percent is generated via corporate print portals, which are currently used by 30 customers.
Customers pursue different goals with these portals. In most cases, the aim is to enable subsidiaries, offices or retail partners to order print products that can only be customized to a certain extent. Here, the aim is to produce short runs cost-effectively, minimize warehousing, and adhere to the corporate design to strengthen the brand.
The SOS Children's Villages in Austria, for example, run an online store for greeting cards via a print-on-demand portal as part of their fundraising efforts. Donors are free to specify the number of cards they want and can also customize them.
Other examples include Malteser Hilfsdienst e.V, the Hugendubel bookstore chain and the Durst Group, a leading manufacturer of digital printing and production technologies. The employees or sales partners of these companies can place print orders for standardized marketing materials with LONGO via the portals.
LONGO Germany also makes the expertise it has developed over several years available to other print shops, developing similar corporate printing portals for them.
Automated order system and production control
The LONGO team implements these web-to-print portals based on the Magento store system. A specially developed connector acts as a middleware between the store and Keyline – thanks to Keyline's open architecture, this connection was quickly implemented.
After the order has been placed via the portal, the job data is transferred via the connector to the Keyline. In the process, the jobs are created automatically.
At the same time, the Connector feeds the print data into the PDF workflow. In the event of faulty print data, for example, the system controls any necessary modification and approval processes. Once the job has been approved, production planning and control run automatically via Keyline.
Highly efficient processes keep job in Germany
Thanks to these highly efficient processes, even micro runs can be produced at break-even. Seizing this advantage, LONGO Germany was able to convince PAPER MOON Grand Galleries GmbH – and thus retain their orders in Germany. Among other things, the company produces postcard sets based on motifs from a wide range of subjects. For the production the customer already made contact to a printing company in China. There, the sets could have been produced cheaply – but only in large print runs.
Also used for large-format printing
LONGO Germany also uses Keyline for its own platform http://www.tapeterie.com. Here, customers can order photo wallpapers from a wide variety of motifs. The LONGO team then produces these in strips 50 centimeters wide using large-format printing (LFP).
In the LFP area, LONGO uses a Fuji Acuity hybrid press for plate and web printing. The different formulas, makeready times and qualities are a challenge. Helfried Prünster: "Many MIS are strongly oriented towards offset printing, which is nevertheless quite standardized. With the implementation of Keyline, you notice that the developers have thought along - you realize that there are people working who know the industry."
Keyline directly at the machines
Helfried Prünster values the Keyline app for the iPad as a great advantage: "We use it very intensively directly at the machines. At the beginning it was a bit of a change, away from the traditional job bag. Today, the status of the orders as well as the material consumption are reported back via the iPad and delivery bills are printed. This way, we achieve full transparency for all orders in house – this is an important aspect in customer service as well."
Thanks to the integration with Shipcloud, shipping labels for the various shipping service providers can also be created straight away via the iPad.
Always up-to-date on stock
Keyline also provides management of the materials warehouse – including inventory management of papers, inks and other materials. Orders can be placed on an order or stock basis. Batches in production can be documented via the iPad app. The iPad app is also used for taking materials in and out and for the inventory.
The future: an integrated platform for the entire printing industry
Helfried Prünster is already looking forward to the next innovation boost the upcoming Zaikio industry platform will bring: "The approach of the Zaikio platform is very clever and comes at exactly the right time. The digitization and automation of all processes between all market participants in the printing industry will once again significantly streamline the workflow and make it more efficient. Zaikio Procurement, which is already available, is particularly interesting for us."
The Procurement module, which can be used free of charge, enables printing houses to order consumables from various manufacturers or dealers directly from their familiar MIS and at no extra cost. At the moment, it is focussed on paper, but inks, plates and more will follow.
Zaikio Procurement accesses the suppliers' systems directly, so product details, availability and prices are always up to date. The tedious transfer and maintenance of material databases into the MIS and time-consuming telephone inquiries are now finally a thing of the past.
Zaikio Procurement is available via the Zaikio App Store. The store forms the basis for software providers to network their applications with each other and exchange data in the future. Print shops of all sizes can thus digitize their business without having to have in-depth IT knowledge.