Bernard Poff, Ferntree Print director, says, "Offset work, up to four colours, constitutes around 40 per cent of our business at present. Customer requests for longer run colour work showed us that this is a potential growth area, but we needed to initiate some improvements in our current print delivery processes."
Poff says the company was managing extremely short multicolour runs of 1000 or less on the digital technology in-house, but that anything over that amount needed to be outsourced.
In addition, the demand for shorter delivery timeframes from customers on all jobs including one colour was increasing.
To overcome these challenges, Ferntree Press replaced earlier generation Heidelberg technology with the SM52-2-P SE press.
"We can now run two passes on the SM52-2-P SE, which means we can deliver on customer deadlines, while managing the quality control. In fact, our outsourcing work and associated costs have been reduced by around 80 per cent," he says.
"We had a budget to buy a 10-year-old 2 colour GTO but after looking at the Speedmaster operating at a on-site demonstration, I felt confident that this was the direction to follow and we traded in our presses for the new SM 52-2P SE and financed the balance.
"The team at Heidelberg have been fantastic all the way through from the sales team, finance, training & support aiding us in the transition to the leading technology."
Poff says that the automated features and speed of the press have contributed to shorter delivery times of all work types, enabling them to upsell the availability of multicolour jobs to current customers with confidence.
He is particularly impressed with the makeready times of the SM52-2-P SE facilitated by the various automated features.
"The auto wash up facility on the press along with the autoplate, which enables plate changes in less than one minute per printing unit, have contributed to reducing makeready times by up to two thirds," he says.
The improved quality output from the press compared to earlier technology has enabled the company to take on more three and four colour work. Features such as the dampening system which minimises dot gain and the optimised feeder ensuring stable, register-accurate sheet travel have facilitated this.
"We are now able to take on these jobs, which require, tight registration very cost-effectively; previously press set-up times and slower output speeds would have priced us out of the market, says Poff."
The SM52-2-P SE has an automatic function, enabling them to change from straight to perfector printing at the touch of a button and in less than a minute. This gives them the flexibility to deliver a variety of single or double-sided jobs, from one to four colours, on the same press.
"The perfecting function is not complicated or tricky anymore, it’s just a push of a button now" he said. "We are now able to save hours of time, particularly in one over one work, which constitutes a large part of our business," he says.
All this means that within two months of the installation of the new press, the company has seen productivity doubled.
"Overall our hourly rate has gone up, but this is outweighed by a doubling of volume at the same time. The increased speed and flexibility of the press means we are now an affordable option for customers in this market," Poff says.
Adapting to the user-friendly elements of the new press, which Poff describes as "so intuitive, they are like an extension of your hands", has been a smooth transition for operators thanks to the comprehensive training and support provided by Heidelberg.
Brett Nowlan, printer at Ferntree Print, is very keen and enthusiastic about the user benefits of the new press. He says, "it is just so easy to get a great print in position and in register now, plus the time we save on washing up and cleaning the blanket, impression cylinders and rollers, plus setting up your next job, we walk away and make our next set of plates and cut our stock we require."
Poff says that the installation of the SM52-2-P SE means Ferntree Print can take advantage of varied income streams for the present while keeping an eye on future customer demand.
"Our company has been successful to date because we offer a variety of services to capture business," he concludes. "Heidelberg equipment enables us to benefit from both jobbing and short-run colour work, while we move toward taking on more four and five colour work in the future," he says.