The largest user of Kodak’s Sonora plate in the world is located 100 miles northwest of Moscow. This is the city of Tver, home to Pareto Print one of the most technically advanced print operations in Russia.
It produces around 5.5 million to 6 million books a year, alone accounting for 18% of books bought in a highly literate country. In addition the company also prints textbooks and books for a a number of former Soviet states, oil rich Kazakhstan included.
Pareto Print CEO Paul Arseniev says: “We set up Pareto Print in 2008 after noticing that a growing number of book printing jobs were being lost to non-Russian providers. That was because at the time the majority of Russian printing houses were unable to satisfy publishers’ quality requirements with regard to either printing or finishing.
“We recognised this shortcoming and decided to upgrade our entire production without compromise to the latest state of the art; it was clear that to succeed in the market we’d have to offer equipment and print quality which were at least equivalent to any good German or Italian printer, if not better. This strategy proved effective and the upshot was that almost all Russian orders for books where part of the content is in colour are now produced by us.”
This has included Manroland sheetfed presses, web offset, binding from Muller Martini and Kolbus and finishing for perfect bound, section sewn, case bound and saddle stitched products.
The factory covers 25,000m2 with 700 staff working around the clock. A further plant on the site is at the planning stage. This would provide the capacity to serve customers outside the Russian market. “There’s plenty of room available to expand our premises here. Our share of the Russian market is already quite substantial, which is why we’re on the lookout for growth opportunities in other regions, of course.
“Only a few of our orders presently come from countries in Western Europe, and that’s something we’re keen to change. Specifically, we intend to increase the proportion of international jobs to 30% in the next two years,” Arseniev explains.
Sales offices are being established at several European sites explicitly for the purpose of achieving this objective. Pareto Print will start off in Austria, Germany, France and the UK, and then proceed from there to Switzerland and the Netherlands
In order to succeed at this, the CEO knows that production must meet western standards for quality and consistency, including environmental objectives. But this was not the key reason for a switch from a conventionally processed laser plate to the process free Sonora XP. This began with demonstrations by NCL, the Russian distributor of Kodak plates.
“It was not simply a marketing play," says Arseniev. “The fact of the matter was that we were utterly convinced of the benefits and our Russian customers don’t really care about environmental aspects.
“The plate repays us with an extremely stable and predictable process, which I’m sure is at least partly due to the elimination of the processing chemistry and its various influencing factors. At the same time, our productivity has increased significantly while our costs have gone down accordingly. With our level of plate consumption, the savings here are enormous.”
The transfer to the new plate took place last summer, starting in July. It has two high speed platesetters, the Magnus VLF 4570Q and Magnus VLF S4 5183Q. Both have cassettes capable of holding 300 plates each. And with the vast capacity, Pareto has climbed to the top of the table in terms of Sonora plate use. The Russian company consumes 300,000m2 annually.
Kodak has highlighted the growth in demand for Sonora, based around the simplicity of use and consistency achievable thanks to removing the processing step where chemistry can vary in concentration and temperature with an impact on for formation.
It has led Kodak to invest in its plate lines to increase capacity to produce the plate. And it predicts that within three years, Sonora could account for one third of plate production. The plates are made at Oesterode in Germany, in Columbus in the US and more recently in China. This has allowed the company to start supplying the Japanese market.
Brad Kruchten, president of Kodak Print Services Division, says: “We presently meet about a sixth of the market need with the Sonora plate. Packaging and other UV applications represent a significant growth factor. Large online printers in particular show a preference for UV printing with relatively short runs; they need UV because it dries fast, so that multiple opportunities will arise here in the long term.
“I don’t deny that there are many different challenges confronting the printing market, but there are still growth areas that are worth our attention. Apart from packaging and UV applications, book printing also deserves to be mentioned in this connection. It’s suffered a few setbacks as a result of the steady advance of e-books, but at the moment it’s booming again. Direct mail is another segment that’s expanding continuously, not least because phenomenal advertising successes are clearly possible in combination with online channels.”
It amounts to an increasing demand for a plate which can cope with short and long runs, can get from imaging to press in minutes and which is stable on press.
Sergei Paramonov, business manager Kodak Russia, Dr. Peter Trampler, cluster business director & VP PSD Northern Europe, Print Systems Division, Kodak, Brad Kruchten, president PSD Kodak, Ekaterina Makeicheva, NCL and Alexey Oborin, Production Manager, Pareto Print line up in front of one of the Kodak Magnus platesetters. Two machines are responsible for imaging the Sonora plates that are used on both sheetfed and web presses at the Pareto factor in Tver.
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Kodak's Sonora XP thermal platescan give the productivity, print quality and print performance comparable to mainstream processed plates.
Process-free is possible for printers that need a plate for longer run lengths, web or sheetfed, UV and H-UV, VLF applications.
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