Innovators: production

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When R.R. Donnelley wanted to test computer-to-plate technology back in early 1999, it turned to Lebhar-Friedman and Rich Zweiback, the company's corporate director of manufacturing. The decision was no surprise, as Zweiback and Lebhar-Friedman tend to be on the leading edge of technology changes.

"We've been very aggressive in looking toward new technologies and ways to go about doing our jobs smarter, while taking into account that we do not want to spend any money," Zweiback said, laughing. One of his most-used phrases is "return for no investment."

Zweiback is a fan of partnering with other companies to try out new ideas. "Everyone wants to do business smarter," he said.

Lebhar-Friedman also got involved early in co-palletization, which is saving the company about $100,000 a year. Zweiback's efforts to internalize all prepress systems not only resulted in $700,000 in annual savings, they also provided much more control over the final product.

The changes are all about efficiency for Zweiback. "You're operating with less people all the time," he said. "New technology doesn't necessarily take less time; sometimes it even takes longer." So Zweiback keeps busy finding every possible corner he can cut without affecting quality.

His next target is co-mailing, which allows small publishers to presort titles together. With paper prices continuing to increase and postal rates almost certain to rise in 2006, "We're attempting to visit every avenue possible and partnering with our printer in every way we can to achieve savings," he said. "It's the only way to operate. You can't operate in a void. It's a dead end if you do that." -M. J. M.

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