July 23, 2003 -- When the Danube overflowed its banks in August last year, the press room at Sandler, a family print enterprise in Marbach, Austria, was submerged chest-high in rank-smelling water. A 12-color perfector press, one of the longest in Europe, fell victim to the flood along with most of the company’s technical infrastructure.
When he saw the full extent of the damage, Johann Sandler wanted to throw in the towel. His son Hannes, however, persuaded him to transfer the business to a different location. So the two men rolled up their shirtsleeves and set to with stubborn determination. Within three months a new printing plant had been built on a plot of land above the flood plain. On 15 April it came on stream. Pre-press and administration were transferred from the old site in mid-July.
Now the company is back in business, and how. In the two weeks over Easter alone it went through 260 tonnes (287 US tons) of paper printing 750,000 copies of a 48-page brochure on 150gsm (96½lb) stock. Not normally a job for sheetfed offset, but the choice of stock was at the limit for a web press.
The Sandlers are familiar with Rapida sheetfed offset presses and have always been happy with their performance. Which is why, in the autumn after the flood, they ordered a new 12-unit Rapida 105 with convertible perfecting. And unconventional as the Sandlers are, they went one step further and added a brand-new eight-colour Rapida 74 perfector for 4/4. This is running so well that it is hard to believe that the press is the first half-format Rapida worldwide in this configuration.
Both presses are connected to an automatic ink feed system to support one-man operation. The air-compression cabinets are in a separate room, the glycol coolers for the ink-temperature control system are at the back of the hall. The two Rapida presses also feature automatic plate changing and colour register control (video register), Logotronic Basic networking, CIP3 data transfer for press preset and video monitoring in the perfector and delivery. In addition the Rapida 74 is erected on a 250mm (10”) plinth, which Hannes Sandler considers particularly important: “With the plinth we can ease the workload on the 12-colour press by running the half-format with the same pile heights.” He is just as enthusiast about the print quality of the small Rapida perfector. “Recto and verso are almost indistinguishable,” he says with some pride, “you really have to look closely to spot the difference.”
Sandler’s traditional line of business is contract printing. Instead of salesmen in the field it focuses on customer care, from drawing up an offer to delivery of the finished goods. Hannes Sandler tries to avoid scheduling three shifts on the presses. But if he receives a rush job for 300,000 covers (75,000 sheets) that must be printed overnight, the whole operation moves into top gear. And this is only possible if sizeable capacity can be left free at the presses until the last moment, allowing him to add a 12-hour shift at short notice.
The Marbach company has already ordered another Rapida 105, due to ship in the autumn, which will expand coating and packaging printing capabilities. The new press will be a six-colour version with coater, delivery extension and hybrid package. Before the year is out the Sandlers will also take delivery of a Genius 52 five-colour B3 press which will enable them to print A3 to B1. Hannes Sandler believes the innovative Genius has enormous potential: “I could find enough work to run it 24 hours a day.”
There are still genuine entrepreneurs in the print media industry, entrepreneurs who act on the belief that “problems are there to be solved. The Sandlers are a good example – two men who let nothing get them down, not even a “bucket or two” of Danube floodwater.
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