On the eve of drupa, the Anton Group - the largest sheetfed offset customer of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) in the UK - has placed an order totaling £14 million that includes three new 18,000sph Speedmaster XL 106 long perfector presses, two ten- and a 12-colour.The first ten-colour press will be delivered to the company's 160,000 sq ft plant in Basildon, Essex, in July, with the 12-colour press following in December 2012 and the second ten-colour in June 2013.
"We believe Heidelberg is overly cautious in its claims for the productivity of its presses," says John Knight, chief executive. "Our Speedmaster XL 105s are 50 million plus impression a year machines compared to our 30 million a year Speedmaster SM 102s. Our own calculations show that the faster 18,000sph of the Speedmaster XL 106 with CutStar, Prinect workflow and Inpress Control spectrophotometry will enable us to produce at least 75 million sheets a year.
"We were made aware of this 18,000sph development early but have held back from ordering until now to ensure any issues from the beta testing were ironed out and that we would have the Speedmaster XL 106 version. We are now very confident of the machine's performance. In today's tough market, print prices are very keen and we have to run productively and efficiently to remain profitable and safeguard jobs. That is the key reason for this investment."
The first Speedmaster XL 106-10-P will replace two older SM 102 long perfectors and is specified with Inpress Control and CutStar. Unlike the 12-colour and second ten-colour that will follow this first new press will not include Autoplate XL because it will be dedicated to longer run work and therefore not require as many plate changes a day.
"We compared two Speedmaster XL 105s in our factory and one dedicated to shorter runs (average 40,000) was producing 50 million sheets a year whilst the longer run Speedmaster XL 105 (with an average run of 120,000) was producing 52 million a year. The relative parity is testament to the speed of makeready attainable with Prinect Pressroom Manager workflow, Inpress Control and Autoplate XL," says Gary Knight, production manager.
"Another feature of the new press we particularly like is its ability to handle heavier stocks, up to 800micron or 0.8mm, with the new perfecting unit and improved sheet handling. This will be particularly helpful for one specific customer we work with already and an opportunity for new business elsewhere," says Gary Knight.
Like all its Speedmaster presses the three Speedmaster XL 106s will run alcohol free, with CutStar which reduces paper waste and with a relatively low energy per copy usage. This fits with Anton's environment credentials, including ISO 14001 certification. For peace of mind the company has signed a five year parts and service contract as well, confident in the responsiveness of Heidelberg and the expertise of its trained engineers. The company has a huge portfolio of litho and digital machines and in any 24 hour period it outputs 1.3 million sheets of litho and 200,000 sheets of digital work, primarily mailing products.
"We do envisage the digital side growing but we are very interested as well in how the two technologies complement each other. We are using Scitex Prosper inkjet heads on one of our existing Speedmaster XL 105s and can run personalised print at full speed. Maybe hybrid technology is something that press manufacturers will develop further in future.
"All our investment is planned in outline five to seven years ahead. Although we decided to place this order prior to the show, we have 25 key personnel from our company at Drupa to investigate and learn for our next stage of growth." The Anton Group is a £43m turnover company which operates around the clock, seven days a week to meet its customers' requirements.