Lebone Litho Printers (Pty) Ltd explains how the FUJIFILM 42K Printbar System helped grow its business



Company said their production time was cut in half, attracting the attention of customers seeking shorter lead times for print.

By Steve Atherton
Director of Marketing and Program Management
FUJIFILM Integrated Inkjet Solutions

Lebone Litho Printers is a South African print service provider that provides a range of printing services including specialty print such as variable-data and security print. They support various industries including Food and Beverage, Cosmetics and Beauty, Pharmaceuticals, Government Sector, and Consumer Goods.  We sat down with Keith Michael, CEO of Lebone Litho Printers, to learn more about his business and the role Fujifilm’s integrated inkjet products have played.

Keith told us he entered the printing industry as an outsider from the plastics industry in year 2000.   Keith saw a lot of commonalities in how print was being produced and saw this as an opportunity to apply a fresh perspective to printing in Africa. He said he started the company with the equivalent of one thousand US dollars from his home garage.  Lebone Litho has grown to employ over 500 people and uses a wide variety of printing techniques including narrow web presses, wide web presses, flat sheet litho, and digital inkjet.

The equipment is both very adaptable and incredibly robust.  It can handle almost anything we throw at it.
Keith Michael

CEO, Lebone Litho Printers

Rapid growth

What was more interesting to me was what Keith said followed. He described how his success printing this job so rapidly led to customer inquiries for a wide range of additional printing jobs.  Lebone Litho has previously printed the election ballots for the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is currently printing the licenses and registration documents for vehicles in Tanzania.

Keith said that because of the public transparency required in the government sector in Africa, Lebone Litho’s participation in these projects has been openly visible to the public. This has served as a means of advertising that has compounded sales opportunities. The success Lebone Litho has experienced here is rooted, Keith said, in the productivity of the Fujifilm 42K printbar system. Keith said his company printed 64,000 pads in two weeks, which previously required four weeks. The company’s variable-data printing lead time has been cut in half and the company is currently busy printing exams for schools with the Fujifilm 42K printbar system.

Worker installing printheads in large printbar


I asked Keith to help explain how the Fujifilm integrated inkjet systems make such a big difference in his productivity. He said it is a combination of factors. “The equipment is both very adaptable and incredibly robust. It can handle almost anything we throw at it.”

Keith went on to say, “Last month, we ran the Fujifilm equipment 24 hours per day, seven days a week; it just keeps going and going.” Keith said it is also very easy to use, which allows those with minimal experience to train in only about a week.  “This drastically cuts our job preparation time.  And the operators love using the equipment,” Keith said.

Keith told me that after he received all the publicity from the high-profile government printing projects, a number of competing printer manufacturers came knocking on his door offering printers. He said some offered bigger machines; some offered lower prices. He said he had absolutely no interest in buying something different. He said, “The 42K’s from Fujifilm were the best investment I’ve ever made. I’ve been able to increase my productivity, lower my labor costs, and my lead times are now so short, I can even charge a premium for my product.”

Last month we ran the Fujifilm equipment 24 hours per day, seven days a week; it just keeps going and going.

The 42K’s from Fujifilm were the best investment I’ve ever made.  I’ve been able to increase my productivity, lower my labor costs, and my lead times are now so short, I can even charge a premium for my product.

It’s the people

Our conversation turned from the two in-line 42K printbar systems to the custom printer that Lebone Litho purchased from Fujifilm. This also uses Fujifilm 42K printbars, but these are integrated as part of a turn-key, near-line printer that has an integral Fujifilm media transport.

I asked Keith why he decided to go this direction when there are so many standard inkjet presses on the market today.  Keith said it’s not just about the printer. He said he’s comfortable working with Fujifilm because of the people at Fujifilm. Keith said, “Fujifilm has my back, and that’s a valuable asset for my business.”  He continued, “I can call for help at three o’clock in the morning, and somebody will be there.”

Keith told us a little about his aspirations for the future. For one thing, he said, “There are 18 countries in Africa with elections.”  He aims to capture a sizable portion of that business. He also said he’s looking at Fujifilm’s integrated 4-color printing options to expand the range of print products he can offer. He said Lebone Litho is looking to further digitize its offerings with new software and workflow solutions. Keith said, “We prefer to lead.”  Following,” he said, “is expensive.”

I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to get to know Keith Michael in our short interview.  The story he told is not just a story of product and customer satisfaction, but one of transformation in a highly effective business relationship.

Service technician installing 42K Printbar System
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