A unique project in the printing industry is underway in Bad Vöslau, twenty miles south of Vienna. The leading Austrian print shops agensketterl, AV+Astoria, and Grasl FairPrint have consolidated their production under a single roof, resulting in one of the largest commercial print shops in any German-speaking country. Although the production facilities in Bad Vöslau are shared, the companies still function independently in the market. “With this step we’re now at a competitive size where we can expand our activities in Austria together”, explains Walter Grasl, Managing Director of Grasl FairPrint. “As part of this we needed to look for a solution for our joint postpress. We started from the ground up in a few departments, investing in innovative machine concepts for economical and efficient production.” The successful bid for the folding technology went to Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) due to their two-pronged approach of initial intensive consultation followed by the development of an overall concept across all three print shops on the basis of existing job evaluations, the respective job structures, and the run lengths. The original sixteen folding machines have now been trimmed down to eight, including two high-performance Stahlfolder TX 96 machines with the innovative PFX feeder and two Stahlfolder TH 66 machines. A new Polar PACE CuttingSystem will be added in September for optimum cutting processes also.
200 million folded sheets per year
All the new machines have been up and running in the new print facility in Bad Vöslau since April of this year, and Walter Grasl has had time to form an initial impression. “As soon as I saw the new PFX pallet feeder technology presented at drupa 2012, I knew it had potential.” The feeder operates on the same principle as a press feeder. The sheets are shingled when they arrive in the feeder and also when they get to the folding unit, which ensures a throughput rate that is up to 50 percent higher than with conventional cross-fold production. “We’re processing all our 16-page signatures on the two Stahlfolder TX 96 machines. These two machines are handling what we needed eight machines for before. They can keep up no problem with our presses’ high output, our job throughput is faster, and we don’t need to work at the weekends any more. The two machines are overseen by three operators, who are optimally supported by the high level of automation.” Walter Grasl is also impressed by the high operational performance of 15,000 to 20,000 sheets per hour combined with low machine speed, high availability, and stable production.
The two Stahlfolder TX 96 machines are integrated into the workflow of the full-service print shop via the Prinect Postpress Manager. This means that the latest data about job quantities and times is available in real time.
Folding work for multiple ups, multiple concertina folds, or special applications is done on the two new Stahlfolder TH 66 machines. As with the printing presses, Heidelberg has also provided a preventative maintenance schedule for the postpress machines to prevent downtimes. “We process 200 million folded sheets per year and the overall concept that Heidelberg came up with is a perfect fit for our need for maximum productivity and short makeready times so that we can guarantee our customers same-day delivery for many products.”
Process optimization doesn’t stop there
For Grasl FairPrint, their focus is on the customer, and their motto is “Fair to people & the environment.” It has customers in the greater Vienna area as well as throughout Austria and beyond. Today Grasl FairPrint has over 180 employees working in three shifts to produce a wide range of advertising materials as well as books, company reports, and catalogs. The press room houses 38 printing units in the formats 35 x 50, 70 x 100, and 100 x 145, from both Heidelberg and other manufacturers. Walter Grasl is already working on the next projects, including further expanding networking in postpress, for example using the remote capability of the new folding machines, in order to implement remote maintenance. As well as increasing the transparency of the production data, this should also optimize the logistical processes around the folding machines. “We want to keep impressing our customers with fast processes, the right expertise, and the high-quality of our printed products,” explains Walter Grasl, who sees this as a way of gradually implementing his vision of an integrated and automated print shop.