The Brentwood company currently runs a five colour plus coater XL106 and is arguably the most productive user in the world, certainly the UK on a straight press. On a recent day it achieved 166,000 impressions in 12 hour shift with 24 makereadies, averaging three minutes each with 1% running waste and 12,311 sheets on the floor each hour. This machine was installed three years ago and has achieved 210 million impressions. it will be replaced by a machine with the same five colour plus coater configuration.
The additional speed and automation from the 2020 version of the press will be ideal ideal for Elle Media. James Cuthbert managing director, anticipates a saving of one minute per changeover, including blanket washing, delivering a cumulative addition 320 hours production time over the course of a year.
He says: "We had been evaluating this investment for over 12 months as we knew with the output levels we were producing and the fixed operating costs in place that our investment cycle would need to be decreased to ensure we sustained our operating cost per sheet."
The concept and automation moves on from the print to stop configuration introduced at Drupa 2016 with further integration of the production and business systems to reduce turnaround times. These will include cloud based systems following Heidelberg's acquisition of Crispy Mountain at the start of last year.
The most eye catching aspect of the new generation is the option of a plate changing robot that takes away the need for an operator to physically position the plates in the plate changing cassette and to remove the spent plates. Now plates are loaded to a frame above the print units which then lowers them into position, removing the old plates. The number of touch points and therefore of risk of such damage is radically reduced. “The Plate to unit technology is the only way to achieve consistently high productivity with short runs,” says Heidelberg.
Rainer Wolf, head of sheetfed product management, points out: it changes and reduces the risk of scratches on the plate, causing paper waste. “There’s no point in just increasing the speed of the printing press. That would be like being stuck in a traffic jam and expecting a faster car to solve the problem.
“Optimised, coordinated overall processes are a much more effective way of increasing productivity in the long term – they solve the traffic jam and deliver continuous schedulable productivity at the highest level. This is exactly where our focus lies.”
The company has confirmed that it will use its factory showroom alongside its presence in Hall 1 at Drupa to maximise what it can demonstrate. The Smart Print Shop concept, including the plate to unit technology, will be in Wiesloch where Heidelberg plans to stage themed days for different industry sectors. In Dusseldorf, it will have integrated solutions to provide a vision of its future of the print and media industry.
By Gareth Ward