Jason Manchester has been on a mission. As technical manager at DG3/Leycol he was determined not only to persuade his colleagues to invest in a Koenig & Bauer Rapida to replace an ageing 12-colour Speedmaster, he was determined too to win Koenig & Bauer’s 1814 Production Excellence Award. Earlier this year he succeeded in the first goal then at the end of November, DG3/Leycol became the winner of the Koenig & Bauer award.
His determination was founded on the simple fact that having worked for Koenig & Bauer, and also for Huber Inks, he was convinced that the press would be ideal for the Gillingham factory. The challenge was that both DG3 and Leycol had achieved success on Heidelbergs and the company had three long Heidelberg perfectors working on both short run fast turnaround and long run jobs. He had some arguments to win.
But he also had support. Managing director Gary Wilson, who had led Leycol and took over as managing director of the combined business six months ago, says simply “we wanted Jason to join us.” He had the support if he could make the case.
This did not give Manchester carte blanche. “The key for us was getting Jason on board to monitor our quality, and getting the Koenig & Bauer was key to getting Jason on board,” says Wilson. “It also meant that because of his experience at other installations, we would know the issues we would face, so could deal with them.”
Manchester joined in July 2018 and was immediately working on the press project, running test jobs to check colour management controls, workflows and makeready. It led to the decision to install an 18,000sph five-colour plus coater press running with conventional inks and equipped with SIS, automatic plate changing and all the bells and whistles that Koenig & Bauer could provide.
It was installed in April alongside a 12-colour Speedmaster and eight-colour perfector. All presses are able to run to ISO 12647-2 standards, making it easier to use all machines to run the same job if needed, though the new press is inevitably taking the lion’s share. Wilson says: “The plan is to put in another press in the next year, and given the success of this machine, another Koenig & Bauer is likely.
“Our focus is on commercial print, so an eight-colour perfector would be ideal and allow us to get rid of the two old presses.”
The site produces high quality books as well as commercial work and fast turnaround reports and IPOs, shared with the DG3 digital plant in Dagenham where the most recent purchase has been an Indigo 7900. Manchester is technical manager with Nick Wilson as commercial director and Richard Davey as sales director on board alongside Wilson.
“What has been refreshing,” says son Nick, “is that K&B has treated us a family when we went to see their set up. It was very, very impressive and the press is second to none. The build and installation was everything that they promised us.”
He adds that the benefits of that build come through performance, the SIS infeed for sheets, the accuracy of the colour measurement and stability of press that keeps the machine in colour with average waste of 0.8% on a job.
Jobs can be turned, if not immediately, then after two-and-a-half hours’ drying time. In a traditional way of working, the press will stand until the job can be turned and put back through the press. Not at DG3/Leycol. When one side has been printed, plates are lifted and sent for recycling and the press made ready for the next job. Once the first set of sheets is dry enough to be printed on the reverse, new plates are made and the job repeated. The speed of makeready and stability of the press makes what would not have been considered only a few years ago straightforward. A new set of plates will be less expensive than the cost of standing time for the machine, Manchester points out.
Manchester is not finished. Production can be sharpened further as Elle Media has proved with its single-sided Heidelberg. Everything is positioned to minimise the need of unnecessary movement for operators, bringing paper to the press, positioning the pile turner. “There is more to come. I want more from this press,” he says. Nobody has yet won Koenig & Bauer’s 1814 Production Excellence Award twice.