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Cohber Press Sets Tall Order for Heidelberg’s Performance Plus Program, Reaps Outstanding Results


Kennesaw, GA, – Beset by increased pressure to lower production costs and stay competitive, as well as by a reduction in print demand from several accounts, Cohber Press, Inc. (Rochester, N.Y., USA) last year undertook an initiative to drive forward a lean project aimed at controlling its manufacturing costs. The company’s investment in lean manufacturing resources included embarking on a pilot program with Heidelberg’s Performance Plus.

A primary goal of the initiative was to bring two of Cohber’s three Heidelberg presses (a 6-color Speedmaster XL 105 and an 8-color Speedmaster CD 102 UV) to peak operational performance. Goals also included identifying potential savings to lower operating costs; standardizing pressroom processes; maintaining the consistency of pressroom performance; and enhancing the competitive position of the business for future growth.

“Performance Plus brought more predictability to the pressroom and reduced scheduling-related stress and anxiety,” said Cohber’s COO Dan Mahany. “This is big. We were able to improve on-time deliveries with less overtime.”

A Return to Peak Performance

Based on the company’s productivity at the commencement of the Performance Plus journey in October 2013, Cohber’s business plan, developed in collaboration with Heidelberg, called for a 42 percent average performance increase within a 12-month period. Additional improvements were to flow from this achievement, including gains in print manufacturing capacity as production from Cohber’s other presses were moved up to the Speedmaster XL 105.

To bring this about, Heidelberg’s recommendations and plan of action called for:

Technical services to return the XL 105 to top operating condition.

Value Stream Mapping workshop with participants from all departments.

Operator evaluation to define the level of print knowledge.

Operator classroom training to develop quality standards for the printing process.

Color theory training.

Pressroom optimization.

Print Color Management on the XL 105 and CD 102 presses.

“Perfect run day” to set an operational process standard.

Monthly data tracking of performance increase.

Maintenance training and planning to optimize machine up time.“Perfect run day”

Monthly project management conference calls to review progress.

Where did Cohber stand at the conclusion of its 12-month pilot program? The results are impressive. Improvements included 1,750 hours of added print production capacity; an on-target, average performance increase of 42 percent; a performance increase of 70 percent in one month; together with associated substantial financial savings.

“We could have never hit this kind of improvement without Heidelberg Performance Plus,” said Brian Gerstner, Director of Lean Manufacturing, Cohber Press, Inc.

“Buy-In” Was Mission-Critical

The largest impacts for these improvements were technical services, followed by additional training and monthly progress reviews that drove the project implementation and buy-in completely through the management and the staff. All of this was triggered by business intelligence coming from Heidelberg Business Consulting. A big factor in the success of this program was highly motivated press operators who were eager to learn more and personally capable to drive efficiencies. In many cases, Performance Plus removes the fear of operator error by showing operations personnel that the machine requires very little manual adjustment when the results are predictable and good processes are in place.

“Heidelberg is looking to partner with ambitious print production companies that are eager to succeed,” said Richard Mack, head of the Performance Plus program at Heidelberg USA. “A chief aim of Performance Plus is to ensure that supervisors and operators are committed to the program, reassuring them that the goal of Performance Plus is to make their jobs easier.”

Added Oliver Demus, Director of Business Consulting, “When a corporate culture is geared to do what it takes to reach its full potential, there typically is an openness to collaborate with Heidelberg and drive Performance Plus internally. Then the potential to increase productivity and reduce costs is huge.”

Cohber will continue with processes with the Heidelberg Performance Plus program for a second year, and is considering initiatives with regard to front-end business processes brought to light while performing the Value Stream Mapping.

“Heidelberg Performance Plus increased our capacity to do more with the exact same equipment and manpower,” said Eric Webber, CEO and Owner, Cohber Press, Inc. “We used the added capacity to cover 26 percent more sales in 2014. I am very satisfied with the pilot program.”

Low-Risk, High-Potential

Performance Plus activities range from proactive maintenance of repairs, classroom and on-the-job training of the entire production crew, additionally and in conjunction with targeting key process improvements in and around the pressroom.

Even perceived minor deficiencies in process, maintenance, training, color management and other areas can lead to under-utilization of equipment and staff, ultimately resulting in unnecessary production costs and significant loss of savings potential. Performance Plus is a low-risk, results-driven program intended to maximize utilization in any or all of these areas, enabling the highest net output from man and machine.

The work begins with a review of production data and overall processes (“Evaluation”) that includes needed repairs and Value Stream Mapping focused on major problem points. Based on the results of this initial survey, Heidelberg business consultants determine current productivity levels and develop a set of specific efficiency and cost savings goals, customized to the business (“Design”). The resulting business case becomes part of an integrated master plan listing all necessary activities, including quarterly review milestones. “Implementation” includes all training, service, support, workshop and consulting activities, as needed. Output and savings are tracked and discussed with the company on a continuous basis for the duration of the project, typically one or two years. At the conclusion of the program, the company will receive a Heidelberg-issued Performance Plus certificate that attests to having completed the program.

Heidelberg is the only print media company worldwide to adopt a holistic approach to performance improvement that draws from the full scope of Heidelberg’s print media expertise. The program is ideal for companies with annual revenues above $10 million, using Heidelberg presses manufactured since since 2004.

To learn more about Heidelberg Performance Plus, click here.

Media contacts:

Andy Rae

Senior Vice President - Equipment

Heidelberg USA



Jean-Marie Hershey

Write Hand Communications for Heidelberg USA



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