A year after installing the UK’s first K&B Rapida 106 with LED UV and one month after a ten-colour perfecting K&B Rapida 106 arrived at its Glasgow factory, J Thomson Colour Printers has won Koenig & Bauer's 1814 Production Excellence Award.
The replica of the Times newspaper press built by Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Bauer was handed over in London last week by sheetfed sales director Chris Scully to managing director Kevin Creechan and print manager Iain Jackson. Theirs had been the biggest order for the UK at Drupa last year.
And both presses have more than lived up to expectations since then. “The average running speed is 20-25% faster according to the job, but it is on plate changes and makereadies that we have found the biggest gain,” says Creechan. “We have gone from ten minutes to change plates and makeready on a 12-colour press to 50 seconds for a full plate change now.”
Jackson points to the sideway free infeed system and closed loop colour control as key factors. “The press is fast to get up to colour, measuring every sheet and making adjustments every tenth sheet.”
This was emphasised in the jobs that earning the company the award. The ten-colour handled a 29 section job on 150gsm silk for the Edinburgh Arts Catalogue. The same 500 copy job had taken 12.30 hours in 2016, of which 3.86hrs was in plate changing and against an estimated time of 12.12hrs. This year the same job was completed in 8.17hrs, against an estimated time of 11.46hrs and with 29 minutes for 29 full plate changes.
A second job was 67 versions of fine art posters printed on the six-colour coating LED press using four-colour process and printing 1,000 copies of each on 300gsm silk. The job was off press in 14.09 hours compared to the 28.52hrs that had been estimated, little more than a single shift.
Two other more straightforward magazine jobs helped seal the entry, again bringing in the job below the estimated time and an average of 35% faster than before the presses were installed. The company, says Creechan, is in the process of adjusting the estimates that its MIS generates.
The LED press has had most impact and was in the company’s sights from the start of the investment process. Creechan explains: “It seemed that Komori and Heidelberg were pushing us down a certain route because it suited them. We were looking six and seven years ahead and LED is obviously the future. KBA was trying to sell what was right for us, though it was more expensive. Once we have had LED UV we will never go back – but not for the ten-colour as the ink is too expensive.”
Chris Scully presents Kevin Creechan and Iain Jackson with the 1814 award in London last week. J Thomson Colour had submitted details of four jobs showing an average 35% increase in productivity over the same jobs previously printed. But just as impressive as the technology on the two presses has been the LED UV enabling sheets to be turned and put back through the press immediately.