Lebone Litho printers recently hosted a media day to unveil the major infrastructure, hardware and software technology investments required to establish its state-of-the-art print secure division based at the corporate park headquarters in Selby in Joburg’s CBD. This first part of ppm’s report covers the company’s evolution over the past five years.
Since 2017, Lebone Litho Printers has invested millions in capex and infrastructure to revamp its block of buildings in Joburg’s CBD and move beyond conventional printing technologies to digital capabilities for an end-to-end solution from data management to distribution of jobs in quicker turnaround times at a higher quality level.
‘Firstly, to remain competitive, we’ve invested in the commercial print division – which consists of the digital litho department (runs from one to 500), the litho department for 500 to 10 000 copies, the web department for longer runs from 10 000 to millions and the binding department – as well as the picking, packing and distribution division,’ explains CEO Keith Michael.
The company currently prints higher education books, various trade manuals, annual reports, brochures, magazines and 65-million workbooks for the Department of Basic Education and delivers these to around 24 000 schools twice a year. The workbook contract is delivered through its consortium-based collaboration with Novus Holdings and DSV Logistics.
Secondly, Lebone Litho Printers has fully integrated digital applications within its traditional printing business through its subsidiary, Lebone Media, which has written the software to track and trace every job through the various divisions (including accounting), created electronic archiving systems to convert paper-based storage facilities to electronic storage and developed e-marking and Pay Marker platforms to enable certified marking of exam papers from home and the government to track all the expenses related to these markers.
The latest step in the Johannesburg facility’s evolution is the launch of the Lebone Print Secure division, which builds on the group’s primary and high school exam printing capabilities (grade three, six, nine, 11 and 12) in the Free State and Northern Cape and its tertiary exam printing capabilities set up for the North-West University on its campus. It also takes advantage of the opportunities created by pockets of excellence within the commercial printing sector such as variable data and changing election products.
Our services range from managing customer-confidential data and secure printing on specialised security paper to picking/packing and secure logistics,’ Keith reveals.
He started planning the infrastructure, hardware and software technologies required for this division in 2020. The project has taken two years to complete from renovating the buildings, buying and commissioning the equipment and related software systems to employing and training the staff and implementing ISO 9001 certification standards.
‘To ensure that our offering was still apt, we had to keep tweaking our strategy because the technology, skill sets and market demands had changed since the start of the project, requiring a blend of conventional and digital printing capabilities and investments in other digital platforms,’ Keith reveals. ‘In South Africa, for example, during the last election, the IEC started rolling out digital components, resulting in certain customers using a digital voters’ roll. In the future, it’s possible that urban areas could use e-voting methods while rural areas continue to rely on printed voting materials. To accommodate both possibilities and provide a segmented approach in terms of our offerings to different sectors, I am currently negotiating with a Brazilian-based company to partner on e-voting technologies, which are becoming popular in developed nations because they enhance or speed up the voting process. This partnership will extend to producing the devices in South Africa as local manufacturing supports the creation of more jobs and a reduction in crime rates, which is what we are striving to achieve as a country.’