Hedgerow Print 'triples capacity' with Komori investment
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Crediton, Devon-based Hedgerow Print has installed a Komori LS529 with UV drying in the largest single investment in the company's 26-year history.
The refurbished 2009 press, which was retrofitted with GEW UV drying lamps in 2012, was supplied by West Park Graphic Equipment and replaced a late model Heidelberg MO five-colour-plus-coater.
Hedgerow Print managing director Gary Radford said that the built-in UV lamp system was key to the company's decision to invest in the new press, which at 16,000sph is also more than twice the speed of the old Heidelberg it has replaced.
"The Komori will run UV inks and it means that we can now switch from uncoated stocks to coated stocks straight away and all of the jobs are instantly dry. We don’t need spray powder, we can back them up straight away with no marking issues and get them right into post finishing," said Radford.
He added: "The coater on the MO was a difficult piece of kit to stay on top of because the coating dries very, very hard. That's great if you are printing that all day long but when you’ve got to stop and do stationery say, where you must not coat it, that unit would dry solid if you didn’t wash it all out first, which is a really time-consuming job.
"A lot of our work is relatively short-run – anywhere between 1,000 and 10,000 – so we do several jobs a day and they vary. So although you try to gang up several jobs together, invariably due to time scales it doesn’t work.
"So we never used [the coater] we would seal them in our fifth unit with a regular AquaSeal, but even then when the sheets come out of the press they’re really wet and you have to wait a good period of time before you can turn the job over and back it up. Then again you have to wait before you can put it into post-finishing."
The investment was part-funded through the Regional Growth Fund and will see Hedgerow Print recruit and train two additional staff members. The 12-staffed business has already trained up one staff member as an additional machine minder for the new press to enable it to run double-day shifts during peak demand periods.
"I’ve got two minders fully trained on this new press so in the busy periods we can double day shift it without drafting in anybody else," said Radford. "We're utilising staff we have in-house to maximise our investment really because it’s a big lump of money to have spent so we need to get it running.
"Obviously we’re stepping up from a slower machine so it’s eating through the work so much quicker that we’re not going to need to [go to a standard double day shift] just yet but we’ve got the potential to do that going forward.
"Our capacity can grow without having to buy more kit now and we can be more flexible in those busy periods than we’ve ever been before. What we can do now in a 16-hour day is significantly more than we could do in a standard eight hours on our old kit, so it’s not just doubling our capacity it’s tripled it really."
Radford added that the firm could look to upgrade its platemaking – currently a Highwater Python CTP – in the next six months to keep pace with the increased demand from its presses, which include a two-colour SM 52 and a single-colour GTO with numbering and perfing.
"We’ll look to get a fully-automated CTP as ours is a manual plate load at the moment. The platemaking’s a full-time job, whereas if you get a fully autoloading one we can run the plates through the evening," he said.
Radford said that the firm could ultimately invest in a second SM 52 to print the NCR work and standard business forms currently produced on the GTO, although he added that the single-colour machine was "a great little machine".
"They’re bulletproof machines and people that use invoices now in our customer base don't tend to want huge runs so really it doesn’t take that much longer [on the GTO] than on anything else," he said.
Clients of the business include a DIY chain for which Hedgerow prints assembly guides for self-build furniture, which are produced 1/1 on the SM 52. "We print maybe 60,000 a week for them," said Radford.
Hedgerow Print installed its Komori LS529 last month and has already produced its first job on the press, for long-standing local customer Rose Removals.