Contact opens new site housing largest European still

Richard Stuart-Turner
Monday, July 19, 2021

Full scale platemaking is now underway at Contact Originators’ new circa-3,000sqm site, which offers four times the floor space of its previous facility and boasts what is claimed to be the largest still in Europe.

Mulcahy: “We have one of the best equipped pre-press sites in the UK today"
Mulcahy: “We have one of the best equipped pre-press sites in the UK today"

The new site in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, comprises three high-tech production halls and contemporary office space and studio, alongside another building housing the company’s new still.

The still, which Contact Originators said is the largest in Europe, will be used for flexo platemaking and is said to offer distillation capacity of 24,000 litres, triple the volume provided at its Bredbury, Stockport site, which suffered a devastating fire in January 2020.

Named ‘Goliath’ by the Contact team, the new still is heated by steam instead of oil, as part of Contact Originators’ commitment to creating a wholly sustainable platemaking operation.

Contact Originators group CEO Steve Mulcahy said: “When developing the new site, as well as ensuring we could meet the needs of all our customers now and into the future, we were completely dedicated to ensuring that our plates are manufactured in the most resource-efficient way possible.

“Changing the way our still is heated has been a big part of that commitment, while at the same time enhancing health and safety on site too.”

The still is housed in a separate building to the platemaking production halls at the new site and the company is now investigating ways to reduce and overcome the challenge of waste produced in the platemaking process, to improve its sustainability even further.

“We have one of the best equipped pre-press sites and one of the most sustainable large-scale operations in the UK today,” said Mulcahy.

“From motion-activated lighting to best-in-class machines and advanced technologies to create greater efficiencies in production, our new site is game-changing for sustainability and the environment. We are always looking at ways to do things better, whether that be in our customer care, our plate quality, cost or waste reduction.”

Two fully inline platemaking lines are already in place at the new site and a third is set to be installed in Q3.

The new facility also incorporates one mile of high voltage cabling, two miles of piping, and one mile of network cabling. A 500GB internet line is also installed, providing 10 times the internet speed that the team had previously and supporting its new fully digitised, automated, and connected workflow.

“After some fantastic support from industry peers since the fire, we are thrilled to say that since May, Contact has been 100% in control of platemaking in-house,” said Mulcahy.

“It has been a tough 18 months, but we have created a fully streamlined, automated facility that meets our vision for what a 21st century pre-press plant should look like.”

Contact Originators had rounded off a challenging but still successful 2020 with the promotion of two long-serving employees to directors. The business has also recently expanded its logistics team and made new appointments to its packaging artworking and origination departments.

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