The Turkish print media industry is buzzing with news of a big investment by Bilnet Matbaacilik, a market leader in the production of fine books and commercials. Since July this year no less than three KBA Rapida medium- and large-format presses have gone live at a rate of one every four weeks at Bilnet's plant in Istanbul. Following a slump in sales precipitated by the financial and economic crisis – which Turkey did not escape unscathed – this bold investment reflects a brisk upturn and the young company's optimism regarding future growth.
Triple premiere on the Bosphorus
The three highly automated KBA Rapidas are part of a €40m ($56m) investment package, and each one represents a Turkish premiere: the eight-colour Rapida 142 is the first large-format perfector, the ten-colour Rapida 106 the first five-backing-five perfector and the seven-colour Rapida 106 the first new-generation KBA medium-format hybrid press in the country. These three premieres under one roof are a remarkable vote of confidence in KBA, particularly since Bilnet is a new customer. Its litho press fleet previously comprised three B1 presses (two, five and eight colours) and one B2 press (five colours) from Heidelberg.
Rigorous quality policy transcends frontiers
In the three short years since it was set up by Ozman Oztürk in the Asian part of Istanbul, Bilnet has established a reputation for consistent quality excellence that has attracted a highly discerning clientele of prominent publishers, auction houses, ad agencies and museums. One of its early customers was Turkish star photographer Ara Güler, aka "the master of the Leica", whose stunning works were printed in beautifully crafted volumes. But Bilnet's key accounts also include major car manufacturers like Ford and Fiat. Its current product range even extends to school text books and labels. Nor does Bilnet confine its activities to the domestic market: it also exports to Germany, France, the UK, Austria, the Netherlands, Greece, Russia, Georgia and Kazakhstan, and is aiming to raise its export level from 30 to 50 per cent.
New technology, new premises
In 2009 Bilnet set about relocating to new premises, still in the Asian part of Istanbul, and boosting capacity substantially with new high-performance presses. This major investment has certainly burnished the company's reputation for quality-defining books, catalogues and brochures. The new KBA Rapidas have boosted productivity by cutting turnaround times, enhanced flexibility in product design and allowed the company to offer diverse coating effects that were previously impossible. Bilnet management is planning to utilise these capabilities to expand its product range still further and develop new markets such as packaging printing.
The company's new headquarters supports these growth targets with 17,000m² (183,000ft²) of production space on three floors and an optimised workflow from the high-tech pre-press department through the press room, which has seven sheetfed presses, two web presses and one narrow-web label press, to the well-equipped finishing department. There are 225 employees in sales, administration and production.
At the top of the market
General manager Halim Baspinar says: "In terms of technology, this huge investment package has positioned us at the top of the market. We can now offer our customers an even better service commensurate with our rigorous quality criteria. The new equipment, of which the three KBA presses form the core, will enable us to achieve our ambitious goals."
He continues: "When we set out to choose a vendor, on-site service support was one of our top priorities along with technology and price. We scrutinised every possible option and toured a string of reference installations. KBA and its agency Dereli Graphic made the best impression and offered us an attractive total package. Trips to KBA's showroom in Radebeul and to one of their German customers, aprinta, gave us every confidence in innovative KBA technology. The Rapidas, with their excellent print quality and fast job changes, are perfect for our job structure with run lengths ranging from 3,000 to 50,000 copies. They have an amazing output in both short and long runs, and our press operators appreciate their easy handling. When it comes to large-format perfector presses the Rapidas are virtually unbeatable, and intensive research revealed that KBA is the best bet in medium format as well."
Compelling technology and good service
The outstanding service provided by KBA agency Dereli Graphic impressed Bilnet just as much as KBA's technology. For many years the Turkish market was dominated by two other German vendors, but in 2009 KBA took the lead in the number of new presses sold. Management at Dereli Graphic believes the big Bilnet contract will have a signal impact on other projects.
Halim Baspinar says: "The way in which KBA and Dereli Graphic handled this major project right from the start deserves a lot of respect. Despite some appreciable architectural hurdles they met every single deadline. The trouble-free installation of the three press lines in quick succession demonstrated the kind of service we can expect from KBA even in extreme situations. Press commissioning and personnel training were completed to our total satisfaction. We'll soon be able to exploit our new Rapidas' potential to the full. And we are well on the way to achieving our growth target of around 50 million euros."