PBL Print is undertaking a complete change at its Chester-le-Street factory, switching from a multi-press operation focused on litho to a more balanced set up that includes digital supported by two new Heidelberg Speedmaster XL75s.
As as result it has cut the number of printers it has needed to run a 24/5 operation from 12 to six. “It will make us more efficient at what we do now and will give us a bit more capacity,” says managing director Eric Stevenson.
The company began by looking at one new litho press “but when we looked at the costs and analysed the barriers to growth, it made sense to undertake a complete change in our production portfolio,” he says.
While PBL provided the figures, Heidelberg UK helped with the analysis. It has resulted in investment in two XL75 five-colour presses with coaters and Inpress Control supported by two Varifire CPs (the new name for the Linoprint CP press based on Ricoh’s Pro C9100 model), a Ricoh Pro C8100 mono press and Polar 66 guillotine to cut this small format work.
PBL has also extended its Tharstern MIS, becoming the first with the software company’s own ganging application. “It will be completely integrated with the MIS,” says Stevenson, “where previously with Metrix we had to switch between applications. And it will automatically fill impositions with approved jobs, which it can group together, and run plates automatically.”
The Tharstern MIS will also link to the digital presses making for a hands off style operation for small jobs. The XL75s will also be able to handle shorter runs which were previously fed to Anicolor presses. The technology of Inpress Control is cut that the fast set up and low waste advantage of the Anicolors has been eroded. It plans to run to ISO 12647-2, maintaining its membership of Heidelberg’s Colour Club and certification that it can print to the standard.
Furthermore planning to two presses of identical format will be easier than moving between B3 and B2 formats on its Speedmaster SX74. The new digital presses, 130ppm machines, benefit from a lower click charge, making that investment more efficient as well as easing pressure on the litho department. The break even between the process will move from around 200 sheets to 500 as a result.
The mix of work is not going to change in the immediate future. PBL produces a lot of work for the NHS, submitted online. If it can retain a 30:70 split between digital and litho, the company will be growing its volumes
Stevenson says that the current finishing line up, now with four guillotines, two Stahl folders, two Horizon booklet makers and ST100 stitching, will be adequate, “though we will probably have to get one more folder”.
“This is going to be a big change for us,” says Stevenson.
Managing director Eric Stevenson and sales director Chris Murley combined with Heidelberg to work out a new production platform combining litho and digital to set PBL for the coming years and with a reduction in manning costs on the litho side of the Durham business.