Livonia Print: Two New Backups for Peak Times
Just a few weeks after moving into its new production facility (which you can see in this video) in the Latvian capital of Riga, Livonia Print, which specializes in book production for publishing customers throughout Europe, invested in two new book sewing machines from Muller Martini – a Ventura MC 160 and a Ventura MC Digital.
Last April, Livonia Print, which was founded in 2006 and employs 680 people, moved into a new building within Riga and combined conventional and digital production, which had previously been split between two plants, under one roof. "Combining production in one location brings significant benefits," says company founder and CEO Trond Erik Isaksen. "It optimizes the entire material flow and makes it run in a straight line. This enables more efficient processes, higher quality with reduced throughput speeds, and also ensures greater flexibility."
All the equipment was dismantled at the two old sites and reassembled in the new hall – including 21 postpress systems from Muller Martini. They got company this summer in the form of two (more) book sewing machines: a Ventura MC 160 and a Ventura MC Digital. "We still had an old Solo Ventura, which served us very well over all these years," says Trond Erik Isaksen. "But it was time to send this lady into a well-deserved retirement. Besides, on the one hand we need more flexibility to produce short runs, and that's where the Solo machine has an advantage over our four VenturaConnect systems. On the other hand, we have optimized capacity for the upcoming peak season."
For digital thread sewing – where Livonia Print has been using a Ventura MC Digital since 2016 – it's the same story, according to the company boss. "Here, too, we need a backup during peak times to avoid production bottlenecks. Because especially in the digital sector, fast delivery of books to our customers is very important."
Digital: yes, but...
However, Trond Erik Isaksen says his company's move into digital should not be misunderstood. "Our goal is not to become another online print shop. We want to be flexible for our customers and offer them everything they need to be successful. Our move into digital simply allows us to produce short runs at a lower cost while maintaining the same quality, giving publishers more flexibility in producing titles while minimizing their risk."
It's true that digital, which accounts for one-tenth of Livonia Print's production volume and company sales, is growing faster in percentage terms than offset. "But digital printing also comes from a smaller volume and is still a young area in our company," says Trond Erik Isaksen.
Annually, Livonia Print prints close to 50 million books. The trend toward more titles and shorter runs is unbroken. "But that doesn't mean," stresses Trond Erik Isaksen," that we will only produce digitally in the future. Because in offset printing, too, the machines are becoming increasingly powerful thanks to new technologies and can process smaller batch sizes economically." Currently, the average print run per book is 2,973 copies. This figure is somewhat "distorted" because Livonia Print also prints some long runs.
Growth even during the pandemic
Even during the corona crisis, business developed positively, according to Trond Erik Isaksen. "We were fortunate to be a solid partner for our publishers during the pandemic and were not affected like other printers in other countries. We implemented contact restriction safety measures in our company and coordinated production accordingly. This allowed us to help publishers throughout the period and continue to grow."
Self-publishing numbers are also pointing upward. "It's not a big part of our business yet, but it's growing steadily," the CEO emphasizes. In-house IT developments are helpful in this segment, "because it's very consulting-intensive, self-publishers don't have a lot of experience in it, and they don't recognize the opportunities in this market." With its portal development, Livonia Print helps self-publishers price their product correctly, for example. "We see good opportunities in the self-publishing segment to grow significantly in the future, because we offer these customers the same quality and opportunities as our publishing customers," says Trond Erik Isaksen confidently.
Like a Muller Martini showroom
Back to Livonia Print's new production facility in Riga. It looks like a Muller Martini showroom, with no fewer than 21 systems from the Swiss machine manufacturer in operation. For offset production, these include three Diamant MC 60 booklines
, a Collibri gluing machine (in a linked system with one of the three Diamant MC 60), eight Ventura MC 200 book sewing machines
(linked to four Connect systems), a Ventura MC 160, two Alegro perfect binders
and an Acoro A5 perfect binder (linked to one of the three Diamant MC 60s). And for digital production, a Diamant MC Digital bookline
, two Ventura MC Digital (with upstream automated Heidelberg Stahlfolder TH-66, 4-pocket folding unit and FFH-66 flat pile feeder), an Alegro Digital
(for digital and offset production) and a Presto II Digital saddle stitcher
(for digital and offset production).
All systems are integrated with Connex.Info
, Muller Martini's monitoring and tracking module. "This gives me important information about production," says Trond Erik Isaksen. According to the company owner, Livonia Print's business model doesn't work without a Touchless workflow solution. "Avoiding any barriers between our traditional and digital production is a top priority. Producing with individual machines without connecting them is no longer up to date. Connex also makes it easier to monitor production and fix delivery times. So if you ask me if I see a future for our industry without 'Connextivity', my answer is clear: unthinkable!"
In this video, meet Trond Erik Isaksen and hear what the founder and CEO of Livonia Print has to say about the Diamant MC Digital book line.
Read this exciting blog by Trond Erik Isaksen on the Muller Martini website about the Touchless workflow solution.