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Leën's Portfolio Grows After KBA Rapida Purchase

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Press release from the issuing company

Exactly one year after two KBA Rapida 106s went live at Leën printing house in Hasselt, Belgium, both technical director Jeroen Leën and plant manager Egid Bessems conclude "We have taken a major step forward with these presses."

It was not the quality of Leën's products which lost them so many contracts, since in 2005 the company was awarded the title "Printer of the year" in the book category by Sappi international in Shanghai. Their fleet of presses was up-to-date and their employees motivated and well trained.

"It was my sister Liesbet who first suggested an eight-colour press," Jeroen says. "We just couldn't keep up with the competition. This was particularly painful, as we had improved our premises by completely renovating them at the end of 2010."

After analysing operations, it turned out that the presses' production capacity especially in terms of setting times and plate changing left much to be desired. "That was an enormous blow, as our newest presses weren't even five years old. We decided to check out the market to see what was technically and financially feasible."

Benefits and necessity
"We had clear expectations. Waste had to be reduced and quality control had to be improved. Maximum press speed was less important, as we also have a lot of short print runs. A vital criterion was fast job change," Egid Bessems explains.

Jeroen says: "We took our time and spoke to a lot of vendors, including Johan Dengis of Naca, KBA's sales agency in Belgium. We used the same criteria to compare all presses. We visited several plants in Germany and fellow printers. After this we came to the conclusion that KBA had made major developments, especially in press setting times and quality control."

This knowledge brought Leën only halfway towards a final decision. "We had to make sure that it was also viable from an economic point of view. Ultimately, I had to convince the other directors of the benefits of and need for this investment."

Calculations showed that installing two KBA Rapidas would result in a major increase in productivity. The company decided on one five-colour, 740 x 1060mm (29.1 x 41.7in) Rapida 106 with coater and an eight-colour press of the same type for four-colour perfecting. Both presses were installed side by side and are connected to a joint KBA DensiTronic Professional online measuring desk in between.

Jeroen says: "The previous presses were as good as new and we sold them on the second-hand market for a good profit. It turned out this was the right time to invest in new kit. In the end our monthly costs sank even with the new presses. KBA technology was the perfect solution."

Good training
"All presses are in essence very similar, but how they are operated differs enormously," says Egid. "So our operators needed to receive thorough training. Also, we didn't want production to be interrupted by the installation of the two presses. Naca organised everything superbly. We went with our team to the training centre in Radebeul, Germany, where we took part in a week-long training course, while the two presses were being installed. Installation took just seven days with no interruptions."

Naca is a subsidiary of Wifac, which sells KBA presses on the Dutch market. Leën printing house also invested in a Perfecta pile turner and purchases accessories for the two KBA presses from Wifac in the Netherlands.

"This worked out very well," Egid explains. "And saves discussions, should we ever have problems with the presses. Furthermore, the accessories must be cost-efficient. In this respect Naca, Wifac and Leën quickly saw eye to eye."

Magazines return
The KBA Rapidas have been in operation for one year and the question is if they have fulfilled the Leën family's expectations.

Jeroen says "Of course. To give one example: in 2011 we used about 26,000m² of offset plates. This year it should be 34,000m². This growth can be attributed mainly to our new eight-colour Rapida. Among other things it has also helped us to win back some magazine customers."

Leën's product portfolio covers nearly the whole breadth of the market, from posters to invitations. A personal approach underpins all activities. The company radiates the atmosphere of a family-owned business. "We take great care to preserve this atmosphere. However, competition is fierce in the Belgian print market. We like to do everything in-house and when that's not possible, we set about learning. Our forefathers did it this way, too."

Over 120 years old
Leën has some 50 employees and is located in Hasselt, Belgium. In 1891 Eugeen Leën founded the Sint-Quintinus printing house. In its 120-year history the family-run business has become a familiar landmark and in 1993 it moved from the town centre to an industrial estate on the outskirts of the city. The fourth generation of the Leën family plus six active partners are at the helm of this cutting-edge company.


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