ESP Colour has installed a four-colour plus coater Speedmaster XL106, replacing a three-year-old, five-colour coating Speedmaster XL105 which has clocked up 206 million impressions.
The press will deliver an extra 20 hours a week production time thanks to cutting makeready time from four minutes to two minutes, says ESP’s Paul Bradley. However, while usage of plate making will increase to 70% from 50% last year, there will be no need to increase finishing capacity.
This is because shrinking run lengths mean fewer sheets reaching the finishing area. Investment last year added creasing capability and an Autobond laminator to expand the range of services offered in house. “People perceive ESP as a production focused business,” says Bradley, “but there is so much more to this business.”
It is now operating a brace of Kodak Nexpress digital presses, Chili Publish online editing and an increasing diversity of finishing options. Customers are increasingly looking for more than ink on paper. “There’s the creative side, and there’s an automation side to the business,” says Bradley. “We are working for print management companies and with direct end user clients.
“The faster makeready of the new press fits with the strategy of continuing to work on more focused data driven print runs, which can be customised as much as personalised, and mean shorter production runs. We are very much about getting the message out there in the most effective way for our clients.”
This is achieved through end to end automation where possible, with strict process control to ensure adherence to ISO 12647-2 colour standards and through running the presses at 18,000sph.
The new press comes with Autoplate XL plate changing, an improved blanket wash system, Intellistart software and Inpress colour control, cutting makeready times to two minutes. The shorter the print run, the greater the accumulated time saving. As with previous presses, this has a full Heidelberg service and preventative maintenance programme. The outgoing press is therefore in excellent condition for the UK company that has taken it on, despite the high impression count.
The advance in technology means that there are fewer efficiency gains to be made through changing aspects of the press than in the past. New recruit in charge of production John Edmonds, replacing previous front man Anthony Thirlby, will continue the focus on automating workflows, built around a Kodak Prinergy rules based automation system and a Tharstern MIS. he brings experience from outside the printing industry. The intention is that a file should seamlessly pass to either digital or litho process, whichever is determined to be the best production process, though customers preferences will be accommodated.
“We are encouraging more smaller jobs,” Bradley continues, "which means more plates, more makereadies, but fewer sheets of each product to the bindery. This is driven by what is happening in the market and by the marketing needs of needs of our customers. We will ask whether 20,000 copies is what is really needed, or whether smaller amounts and other more creative approaches might work better.”
It has already led to setting up online ordering systems which create jobs and drive orders from the upload of a spreadsheet of different quantities of different jobs. And the fast makeready of the new XL106 is a cornerstone of the strategy.