Knepper Press Installs Two New manroland Presses
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Press release from the issuing company(October 22, 2008) Since breaking ground in October 2007, Knepper Press partners Bill Knepper and Ted Ford have built a 100,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art printing facility, moved their entire operation and added two new manroland presses, a ROLAND 710 Hi-Print sheetfed with a roll sheet converter, plus a ROTOMAN web. And the fun's just begun.
Knepper's dual purchase, including the Pittsburgh area's first new full web press in over 30 years, positions the Clinton, PA, firm for flexible, multifaceted growth with balanced capabilities and operating efficiencies so vital in today's marketplace.
Friends since pre-school days, Bill and Ted's business partnership began 17 years ago when the fifth-generation member of the firm's founding family took over the company. Knepper Press history spans 135 years to 1873, with local newspapers as its forte for over a century before it evolved into general commercial printing.
As for the past year, "Things moved pretty fast once we pulled the trigger," Ford said. The new facility more than doubles Knepper's square footage, with plenty of room for the new presses as well as full-service bindery, mailing and fulfillment operations. "It's pretty high tech," Ford said, noting it is wireless throughout, uses hand-print ID in lieu of employee time cards, and similar advanced systems.
But one of its biggest manroland 'plus factors' relates to overall operational efficiency. "It is much more efficient to lay out the plant exactly how you want it," Ford said. "Before, our sheetfed presses were in different rooms. Now they are all in a row, with the webs next to each other and the paper warehouse behind them. It's the way you want a printing plant to be."
Why the decision to go new and why manroland.
"At one time, we were an 80-20 web-to-sheetfed shop," Ford said, "but we had Didde webs and we were much smaller." The shop's growth over the past 5-6 years has been on the sheetfed side, handled by a trio of manroland perfecting presses with coaters: a 41-inch, 10-color ROLAND 710, a 6-color ROLAND 706 (also 41-inches) and a 29-inch, 5-color ROLAND 305. "By 2007, we almost reversed the ratio to about 70-30 sheetfed. We were pushing our capacity."
Instead of putting in another sheetfed press, however, the partners decided to replace the 10-color with a brand-new ROLAND 710 and go with the full web to take up all the big jobs in the shop and free up capacity on the other presses. And, Ford adds, "to go after the bigger jobs we couldn't get with our sheetfed presses. Not gigantic runs, but servicing the general commercial arena - magazines and multi-page catalogs, sales literature, higher education material and such."
Knepper Press "seriously looked" at other web options, Ford said. "We felt the ROTOMAN was the best web press out there. It has the highest quality and runs at the highest speed. manroland is a world leader in commercial web and we had good experience with them on the sheetfed side."
Touted on Knepper's web site (www.knepperpress.com) as the most fully automated, highest speed 16-page press in the world, with run speeds up to 65,000 sheets per hour, the ROTOMAN has 18 in-line fold configurations and a sheeter. It also makes the most of typical manroland 'plus factors'.
Automated press features bolster bids
"Automation on the front end of things is a big manroland advantage," Ford said. "The ability to send data to the presses to set them up gets you into the job quickly, up to color and in-register right away. From manroland's printnet PressManager (PPM) to high tech color, register and cut-off controls provided by QuadTech, we are uniquely integrated into the ROTOMAN. Coupled with System Brunner's Instrument Flight, the global standard 3-color gray balance software, it gives us the world's best press color management.
"We are down to 10-15 minute makereadies on the ROTOMAN, going from form to form with less than 1,000 wasted sheets on many forms," continued Ford. "This helps us effectively compete in a sheetfed market, doing short-run jobs with a full web. That's why we went brand-new, rather than refurbishing a used web. This press fits our strategy, going after very high quality sheetfed work and making it pay, with very good make-ready times and very little waste."
Likewise, on all of Knepper's manroland sheetfed presses, the printnet Press Manager sends job, machine and ink presets to the press and the closed-loop ColorPilot/CCI color control scans the sheet; it monitors the job during the run and stores all the press settings and data. "Basically, it is a complete job storage and closed-loop color system," Ford said. "If we go back to reprint a job a month or even a year later, it will pull up the settings and run it right to the same settings again. The consistency is there, regardless of who is running the press."
Knepper makes its big move "without missing a beat"
Any printer knows that moving a shop requires good planning, good help, patience and a lot of perseverance. "manroland made for an outstanding partner in facilitating the entire process, especially, of course, with the sheetfed presses," Ford said. "We knew we could trust them in moving the equipment and getting it up and operational without missing a beat. For our customers, that was very critical."
The ROLAND 706 and 305 perfectors were refurbished in the process and two of the shop's three Didde webs were sold. However, before these presses were moved the new ROTOMAN and ROLAND 710 Hi-Print were up in the new facility, "so we had a lot of capacity already on line," Ford said. "We had to juggle a few things for a month or so, but it went pretty smoothly. We could not have done it without our partnership with manroland."
All in all, it was a big year for Knepper Press - and quite an adventure for Bill and Ted.
"We have the capacity to grow at the double-digit pace we have been," sums up Ford. "It will be a challenge. But we have a great group of employees, a fantastic new facility, and manroland as a good partner. We all worked together and it worked out quite well."
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