Even in Italy's crisis-buffeted publishing and commercial sector there are signs of a recovery. At the end of last year a Rapida 162 five-colour coater press went live at Turin-based Societa Torinese Industre Grafiche Editorial (STIGE), one of the biggest offset operations in Europe. While it is the company's seventh Rapida since 2002, it is the first KBA press to feature inline coating.
Success among the big boys
STIGE has high hopes of its new flagship. Fierce competition from the Far East is forcing European publishing printers to redouble their efforts to enhance quality, efficiency and production flexibility. There is a brisk demand for highly automated presses that trim set-up times - and thus production costs - by raising output, enabling printers to respond with agility to fluctuations in run lengths and comply with international quality and environmental standards. Inline coating also enhances value added.
Since STIGE was founded in 1927 three generations of family management and entrepreneurial vision have seen it develop into a sizeable graphic enterprise. Its web and sheetfed offset operation in Turin meets international benchmarks. Cutting-edge production kit at its two 20,000m² (215,000ft²) and 15,000m² (161,500ft²) plants in San Mauro Torinese enable it to hold its own among the industry majors.
Shifting markets pose challenges
President Giorgio Martano says: “The market for publishing products such as books, magazines and catalogues has changed perceptibly since 2008, and in some sectors we have experienced price erosion and sliding sales. As a company we must enhance the appeal of our existing products on a sustainable basis, and develop new ones.”
He goes on: “Exports account for 65 per cent of our output, so we must compensate for flagging orders in individual countries. Books and magazines each generate 30 per cent of sales, catalogues around ten per cent and the rest is divided among other commercials. Currency fluctuations and our competitors' lower labour costs pose major challenges that can only be overcome by enhancing efficiency and product innovation.”
KBA innovative and reliable
According to Giorgio Martano this requires a strong partner: “In sheetfed offset we found this partner ten years ago in KBA. New presses must pay their way right from the start, because prices of secondhand kit have fallen and can lead to gaps in financing. On top of this, there is an emerging focus on conservation, and here we are burnishing our credentials with a string of investments and international certificates.”
Michele Santoro, head of STIGE's sheetfed offset division, says: “We signed the contract for the Rapida 162 five-colour coater press at MedPrint in Rome last year because we were persuaded that this new generation of large-format presses combined innovation and reliability. The press is very fast - it can print 13,000 sheets per hour - and delivers substantial time savings through automatic plate changing and CleanTronic Synchro simultaneous washing. The inline coating option with acrylic and UV coatings saves us even more time and money because this work was previously outsourced.”
Palpable quality benefits
“We are steadily increasing the proportion of coated products we offer because they deliver palpable quality benefits,” says Santoro. “Installing DensiTronic Professional and QualiTronic colour control helps us enhance our quality management still further. Thanks to the training provided by KBA, the learning process for the operators of the new press has now been completed and since April it has been running at maximum production speed in two-shift operation, six days a week.”
The large-format Rapidas at STIGE primarily print books along with magazine and catalogue covers. Five million books and ten million paperbacks a year add up to a sizeable volume that is now being produced with even greater efficiency and in an even better quality.