The Sunderland outfit made the switch in January when Lucky HuaGuang Graphics representatives visited to reconfigure the printer’s Screen PT-R4300 platesetter and is on track now to make an annual saving of at least £9,000. Lucky HuaGuang now provides plates for all three litho presses at Edwardthompson.
According to digital manager Dan Miller, the increased productivity and rising workload would help the company on its next venture – to hire back a number of print and finishing staff who were among the circa-68 workers let go during the downturn three years ago.
Miller said: “We had switched to new chemicals with Agfa and the problems from the transition could not be resolved so we decided to move on and try something new.
“Lucky HuaGuang have a base in Germany and they flew over with their plates and chemistry to show us how it would work with our system. Since we switched, we have had regular visits from representatives, and we are having print runs like never before.
“An average 60-65,000 impressions per plate has gone up to around 190,000 with our record so far being 236,846 on a single plate. It reduces downtime, makes our staff more relaxed and, with identical quality, expectations are higher for what we can achieve for our customers.”
Due to a decline in its key markets, including bingo cards and charity direct mailings, as well as a transition to digital devices, the firm made the decision to halve its 135-strong workforce in June 2016.
After an extended recovery period, which included a six-figure investment in a Ricoh Pro C9100 digital press and a Duplo DC-645 slitter-cutter-creaser last year, Edwardthompson is now in ruder health with a headcount currently standing at 63 staff and a view to grow its £7m turnover over the course of the financial year.
It runs its Lucky HuaGuang plates on two Heidelberg Speedmasters – a SM 74 and a SM 102 – as well as a Sanden Quantum web press. The business continues to serve the charity and promotional games markets, as well as general commercial print and direct mail.
In August last year, Agfa confirmed that it had entered a deal for Lucky HuaGuang Graphics to produce its plates initially for the Chinese market before expanding globally.