After celebrating the inauguration of a new 16-page KBA web press model, the C16, late last year, German print and media enterprise Schaffrath in Geldern followed it up in April by pushing the button on a high-performance KBA Rapida 106 B1 (41in) sheetfed offset press. The decision was not made lightly: a few years ago the company had installed a competitor's press. This time KBA's superior technology won the day.
Schaffrath, whose roots date back to 1743, has some 300 employees and posts annual sales of around €44m ($63.2m). In 1995 it set up a digital printing arm, L.N. Schaffrath DigitalMedien, but with a joint sales force. Alongside paper-based magazines and catalogues the two firms can create classical websites, apps, and mobile websites for smart phones etc. For Schaffrath's customers this offers a raft of benefits, since established databases are often used to generate both printed products and e-publications. So while a German medical title may have a printed circulation of just 440,000 copies, for example, Its job section may attract as many as one million hits on the website.
Schaffrath specialises in catalogues, trade and consumer magazines, and publications for clubs and associations. The company has streamlined its production processes and kitted up with cutting-edge technology in order to maximise efficiency. In addition to the KBA C16 it has a 48-page and a second 16-page web press. Twelve months ago it installed new Sitma mailing equipment, arguably the most efficient of its kind in Germany. Schaffrath prints 25,500 tonnes (28,000 US tons) of paper per year, entailing 45 million adhesive binding and 55 million stitching and addressing sequences.
Coater enhances flexibility
The new five-colour Rapida 106 is the first sheetfed press at Schaffrath to feature a coater and stands alongside a five-colour B1 (41in) press installed in 1997. Both presses primarily print additions to web-press products, eg covers, bound-in inserts, postcards and special publications.
At present magazine-related jobs are often printed without the coater, which is reserved for protective coatings or where immediate perfecting or finishing is required. But in view of the current situation in the German print media industry there are plans to deploy the new Rapida for other lines of business as well. Which is why the press package also included a board-handling capability.
The Rapida 106 really cuts the mustard in terms of print output, colour measurement and control technology, and automation. Whereas the company's 14,000sph presses generally run at less than 10,000sph because of the type of paper and job printed, the 18,000sph Rapida 106 averaged 14,000sph within a few weeks of starting up. QualiTronic inline colour control has slashed production waste and eliminated colour fluctuations. In conjunction with an array of automated features - among them ink supply, nonstop systems, DriveTronic SIS no-sidelay infeed, remote-controlled suction rollers and LogoTronic networking - a density measurement and control system has allowed manning levels to be reduced with no impairment of output and quality.
Management has calculated that the Rapida 106 at Schaffrath will pay for itself in just three-and-a-half years. "That is pretty short for a big-ticket item, but we are confident that it is realistic," claims managing director Dirk Devers. Normally it would take around three years nine months, and for one particular make of press four years six months. After three months of operation the Rapida had clocked up 6.1 million prints, equivalent to some 25 million sheets per year. So the 20 to 30 per cent higher output targeted with the new press has already been achieved.
Commitment to conservation
A print enterprise with such a high output must naturally consider environmental issues, and Schaffrath's commitment dates back many decades. Following FSC and PEFC accreditation it recently renewed its ISO12647-2 certificate for both its web and sheetfed activities. The energy generated by the compressed-air systems for the presses is used to heat water and contributes around 50 per cent of ambient air heating in the 18,000m² (194,000ft²) production plant. Customers are offered a carbon trading option to offset the inevitable emissions. Technological advances like the C16's reduced makeready speed and QualiTronic colour control for the Rapida 106 have cut waste dramatically. All paper waste and other reusable products, such as the ink cartridges for the Inkline system, are recycled.
And, of course, the Rapida 106 operates alcohol-free. Schaffrath uses no-alcohol fount solution additives and a number of other products from KBA's PressConsum range of consumables.
"Our sheetfed department has grown enormously with the Rapida 106," says a delighted Devers. Although the company is busy expanding its digital media, it will continue to invest in print. Rudolf Sturme, head of technology at Schaffrath's printing plant, has no doubts: "We'll still be earning money with print well into the future." Cutting-edge technology is key to maximising cost efficiency. Which is why investments include a depalletising robot, a large number of articulated robots and automated addressing.
Magazines nowadays need to specialise or regionalise in order to survive. When printing such complex products speed and expertise are essential. Schaffrath offers both.
Related website: www.schaffrath.de