“I was thinking of replacing these at the end of the year,” says managing director Nigel Room, “but this seemed like the perfect opportunity to cope with the disruption while we are semi closed.”
The company is replacing a pair of five-colour Sakurai 665s. These are 14 years old and becoming more troublesome to look after, says Room. They are constantly running as four-colour plus seal which will not be necessary on the LED UV press, hence a four-colour machine is adequate.
“We produced just one five-colour job in the last six months,” he says. “I was concerned about the price of the LED inks, but again for every £1 we spent on ink in the last six months, we spent £2 on spray powder and seal which will no longer have to buy.” In short there will be no increase in how much Heronswood spends on these consumables.
Nor will the company have to wait for work to dry before finishing sheets, helping with scheduling and helping to improve service to customers who need a fast turnaround job. “If someone came in needing 1,000 SRA1 posters for the next morning, firstly we can now take the job because of the format we will have. Then we can have the plates made by 6am, have the plates on press and the job ready for the guillotine and for collection at 8am.”
The increased format will mean no loss of capacity when coming down to a single press. There are also significant advantages for the business is moving away from the crowded B2 market. “We are finding that the lower end of this market is going to the internet printers while larger printers are coming down into B2, so we are getting squeezed from both sides,” says Room.
“Going up to SRA1 lets us escape from that. We can print 8pp roll fold jobs that were impossible before; we will be more efficient on longer run stuff where we have struggled in the past; we can print on new materials like plastics if asked and we will need one less member of staff. We have a minder due to retire in March so will not need to replace him now.”
The company has had to install a new platesetter, locating a Screen PTR to image the larger plates. And because it is going to be using LED UV inks, it needed to move away from the Agfa Azura plate. It is now using the newly launched Eclipse process-free plate from Agfa.
“So far it seems very good. We can see the image reasonably well and we ran a test where we image a plate on the Friday, left it face down in the stacker then put it on press a week later and it ran perfectly well,” he says.
Room anticipates benefits from printing on uncoated papers and especially from taking on faster turnaround work where pricing is a less sensitive issue .
“It was also a case of do what we have done for the last 20 years and wait for the grim reaper. We would not be doing anything different, just another B2 printer. But I felt we needed to change what we do.”