The six-colour Speedmaster XL106 with coater has replaced a CD102 at the Shipley factory and is running at 1.4 million impressions a week across a four shift system which would equate to 75 millions sheets in a year. Printcraft has been producing 240 million cards a year with plans to expand production to 400 million a year.
The company needs the boost to capacity. Parent company Card Factory has opened its 1,000th store in November and has secured a supply deal with Aldi as greetings card provider to 440 stores in the supermarket chain. It is also starting to supply The Reject Shop as the card provider for its 360 outlets.
The press to do this is equipped with Autoplate XL, Inpress Control 2, Hycolour Multidrive and Inspection Control. And it can run either conventions or UV inks. There is also a wall screen display to make operation easier to monitor. Production details are downloaded into the business management system and fed to Heidelberg for attention. “Even small issues are automatically reported via email by the operator, even over the weekend, and the issues are resolved with no management intervention.”
The company bought its first piece of Heidelberg equipment in 1993 and while also installing Koenig & Bauer presses, has continued to buy from Heidelberg, currently evaluating finishing equipment for its next investment. It became part of the £436 million Card Factory group in 2009, moving to the Shipley premises in 2011. The Card Factory wants to return as much production to the UK as feasible, on the back of further developments in automation
The Speedmaster is the key part of £5 million allocated for investment this year in production technology. This has also led to additional digital presses to cope with the 25% growth in orders from its online activities. The production of personalised gifts for the Getting Personal website has moved to the Printcraft factory. This remains a small part of the business. Personalised digitally printed cards still only account for less than 3% of the overall cards purchased each year in the UK. The UK market is worth £1.3 billion annually.
By Gareth Ward