To say that environmental issues are a high priority at Newnorth is something of an understatement.
The Kempston-based commercial printer has made great strides in reducing the environmental impact of its operations, and the lengthy list of its most recent achievements includes impressive savings in the amount of resources consumed by the company, and big reductions in the waste produced. This year it upped the amount of waste recycled to 95% and massively reduced its use of volatile organic compounds and alcohol. The company’s letterhead bristles with accreditations including ISO 14001 and ISO 12647-2, and FSC certification.
Hardly surprising, then, that when it came to choosing a new platesetter, the environmental credentials of the machines being considered were put under intense scrutiny. And even though the company had been using a Screen platesetter prior to the new purchase, it wasn’t automatically the case that the manufacturer would be in pole position to win the new order.
"We surveyed the whole market and looked at all the options," explains director Mike Seamarks. "One of the criteria was being environmentally friendly, to complement the whole approach at Newnorth."
"Environmental performance was high on the list, as were productivity and reliability," adds Seamarks. "Our CTP system needs to keep up with the press hall, to ensure we meet our output speeds."
The firm’s range of services includes both conventional and digital printing, with its most recent purchase on the conventional side being a 10-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 102.
Once operations manager David Hennessy had completed the evaluation project of suitable devices, the decision came down in favour of a Screen PlateRite HD 8900S, with Newnorth becoming the first UK installation for the model.
One of the factors that impressed the Newnorth team was the Screen device’s energy-saving features. Compared with previous models, power consumption per plate imaged has been reduced by 9%, while idling power use has been cut by an enormous 85%. Seamarks describes this power rating as "the best by far" of the platesetters evaluated.
"The reduction in power consumption and standby power use with the HD 8900 was very helpful, and we were also impressed to see that Screen had signed up to the Kyoto protocol," adds Seamarks.
The 43-plates-per-hour, 4,000dpi device with autoloader was installed without a hitch in March. The installation was planned so that Newnorth could maintain plate production throughout the changeover between old and new platesetters.
The firm is running Agfa’s Azura TS chemistry-free plates, which also fits with Newnorth’s environmental ethos, helping it cut water consumption by 1,110m3.
So how has it performed? Hennessy says the most noticeable difference is throughput, because the PlateRite has three plates on the go at once.
"Plates are at various stages of the process – buffered, punched and imaged – all at once. This improves its speed, and the buffering stage is really fast," he reports. "I will state that the quoted maximum output speed is dependent on what plate you run through it, as we are quite a bit under this, but we were informed about this before the kit was installed so it wasn’t a surprise."
As one might imagine with the first installation of its type in the UK, Screen took a close interest in the installation. "It did come with an engineer attached to it for about a month as Screen used us as a bit of a training site, which, to a degree, we expected," says Hennessy. "It started to get to the point where we would be giving the chap his own parking space and tickets to the Christmas do, so after discussions with Screen this was soon resolved," he quips.
Hennessy says that compared with previous CTP installs the whole process has been smooth, with just a couple of minor niggles along the way, and describes the build quality as "brilliant – even though I know that sounds clichéd". He specifically highlights the new autoloading device, actually an MAL, or multi-autoloader, for handling differing plate sizes.
"The build on our previous MAL did start to falter a bit towards the end of its life, but the newer version is a far better design and more robust."
The only downside to the new autoloader is that it’s "a bit of a biggun", so users need to factor in the amount of room needed for it.
Newnorth doesn’t have two platesetters so reliability is important, and glitches need to be fixed quickly, hence the firm’s decision to take out a comprehensive service contract with Screen. Hennessy has high praise for Screen’s sales function, customer focus and proactive approach to clients. Service-wise the company said it had "a number of small issues", which were tackled quickly and professionally.
Bui Burke, UK sales manager at Screen, says: "We pride ourselves on our service and it’s one of the main reasons people buy from us. As regards the output speed, all platesetters are dependent on the speed of the coating on the plates. If Newnorth used different plates, it would run at 43pph, but obviously there are advantages for them in using Azura.
"Newnorth is a busy company and we’re pleased it has chosen to continue with us. It’s nice to see a commercial printer like them doing so well," he adds.
Overall, Hennessy is happy with the performance of the PlateRite HD 8900 S. "The biggest plus is that it sits in the corner and images plates with the absolute minimum involvement from operators," he says.
"It beeps when it needs feeding with plates, you fill it up and it carries on, which realistically is all you can expect from a CTP engine, unless you expect it to drive you home too... in which case you will be disappointed."
Seamarks adds: "It has improved turnaround times. The reporting suite from the software is also useful because we can see how many plates have been made.
"We would buy another one and we would recommend it."
4,000dpi with 3D
lenticular mode for
Min/max plate size
Max speed 43 plates per hour, can be upgraded to 65 plates per hour ‘Z’ model
Around £200,000 including multi-autoloader
Screen UK 01908 848500