Park splashes out on high-spec Rapida with UK firsts


Park Communications has invested in a highly specified KBA Rapida 106 with features new to the UK, its second KBA press investment in 18 months.

The 10-colour perfector will be up and running in Park’s Beckton, London premises by 19 July. Once installed, KBA said the machine, which replaces a 10-year-old Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 102, will be the highest specification machine of its kind in production in Europe. The list price for the machine, which joins a six-colour Rapida 106, is around £3.3m. 

Managing director Alison Branch said the machine would bring improvements in terms of quality but is “primarily about efficiency and reduced maintenance costs”. 

“The makereadies and running speeds are both much faster, so for customers coming down to press pass, it means that much as they love being with us, the time they have to spend with us is shorter,” said Branch.

“We had the Speedmaster for a long time, but it’s about how well you maintain presses and we put a lot of effort into regular maintenance. Ultimately though they do get too old.”

The press runs at a maximum speed of up to 18,000sph, taking sheets at a maximum size of 740mmx1.1m. Park’s Rapida is the first in the UK to feature KBA’s Flying Job Change, demonstrated at Drupa, which reduces makereadies by allowing for plate changes while the press is still running.

The press is also the first in the UK to come equipped with the QualiTronic Instrument Flight tool, which controls the grey balance of jobs, with registration of sheets performed inline and automatically by its QualiTronic Infrared Camera Register. Branch said the flight tool will allow Park to take on “more challenging projects”. It is also specified with simultaneous roller washing and simultaneous plate changing. 

“I would say in this market you have to be constantly looking at how to be more efficient and how you can offer a differentiating benefit to your customer. New technology is absolutely critical as part of that,” added Branch.

Branch said that once installed, the Rapida will run 24 hours a day, and will take on all jobs that require perfecting, which amounts to between 60% and 70% of Park's orders. 

“We have fine-tuned perfecting to a very high level, so even short runs, 500 copies of a 96-page publication, we would perfect,” she added.

The spend is a continuation of 130-staff Park’s long-term investment plan that has seen it bring in a Stahlfolder, an HP Indigo 7800 and various other items of finishing equipment in the last two years. 

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