Caledonian Paper mulls 96pp investment

Jo Francis
Monday, December 8, 2014

Polestar’s new 96pp web presses have resulted in an investment dilemma for UPM Caledonian Paper.

The Irvine paper mill is the only mill in the UK making coated magazine paper.

It has one paper machine and an annual capacity of 270,000 tonnes, designed to serve the UK’s major publishers and printers. But it cannot currently produce reels in the 2.86m width required for the 96pp press format.

As well as the wider width, the 96pp reels also have a larger 150mm core than typical heatset web offset paper reels. The reels are also much heavier, which requires clamp trucks and handling equipment capable of handling the additional weight.

PrintWeek understand the investment required to enable Caledonian to make the format would be in the order of several hundred thousand pounds.

At the same time, UPM is also in the process of a major restructure that involves taking out 800,000 tonnes of publication paper capacity across Europe.

One paper industry expert said: “The problem is it’s a heatset press but the paper is more aligned to gravure, and that creates its own set of problems for paper suppliers and for Polestar.

“For paper mills this is a huge issue. It can be hopelessly inefficient to make reels of that size.”

There are also logistical issues, because the length of the reel means they cannot be transported upright “chimney style” on lorries in order to maximise the carrying capacity.

UPM can make 96pp reels at other mills in Finland and Germany.

The manufacturer is talking to publishing clients to assess which titles are likely to move onto the new presses at Polestar, and what the likely impact will be in terms of tonnage that could be lost at Caledonian.

Area sales director Thomas Waltasaari said: “We need to have an understanding of what will be on those presses in the long-run. It’s an ongoing thing with no decision made negatively or positively yet because we are in a phase of reviewing it.”

The new Goss International 64pp short-grain press that is currently being installed at Sheffield alongside the two 96pp models presents similar issues, because it requires reels that are almost as wide at 2.64m.

A source close to the situation said: “When you think about it, the volume of paper those presses will eventually use is going to be huge.”

Goss currently has six 96pp presses installed across Europe, although a fire destroyed one at Mazzucchelli in Italy. Manroland Web Systems also has six 96pp Lithomans installed at printers in continental Europe, but none in the UK at the present time.

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