Potts Print (UK) in £3m pre-press, litho, digital and finishing spend

Simon Nias
Monday, February 2, 2015

Potts Print (UK) will take delivery of a 15,000sph Heidelberg XL 75 six-colour plus coater this week as part of its £3m capital investment programme.

The new press is just the latest strand of a £3m re-equip that began in December with the installation of a raft of digital print and finishing equipment and an overhaul of Potts’ Agfa-powered pre-press department.

The digital investment included two new Xerox iGen150s, two Nuvera 314s and a Xerox D110, as well as a Morgana Digibook 200 PUR binder and EBA 5560 guillotine.

Potts has retained all of its existing digital printers, including a Nuvera 144 and Xerox 4112 as well as a Xerox Colour 700 and Colour 770, and taken on six additional staff taking the total in its print department to eight.

Potts Print creative and technical services director Ian White said that the firm had seen substantial growth in digital print in the past five years and with more expected in 2015 it had decided to go straight for two iGens rather than taking an “intermediate step”.

“Historically, we’re a B1, B2 and B3 litho printer, but the digital side has grown and grown to the stage where we couldn’t cope with the volume,” said White. “The iGens are capable of running much faster compared with the Colour 700, so jobs of a couple of thousand sheets that might have taken all day before will now take an hour on one of the iGens.

“These machines are so productive that jobs of 3,000 to 4,000 sheets are now a digital job, which means we can take jobs that weren’t that suited to litho and put them on the digital devices.”

White added that run lengths were coming down across the board. “That’s why we invested in another B2 press rather than B1,” he explained, adding that the decision to invest in digital finishing kit was to avoid the scenario of having to stop one of the firm’s binding lines from running a 100,000 run of books to do a few thousand copy digital job.

Meanwhile, Potts’ pre-press spend included two new Avalon N8 platesetters, which have replaced two older Avalons, as well as an upgrade to Agfa’s new Azura TU plate and the latest version of its Apogee workflow.

White said that the new platesetters, which were installed in November, had already boosted the firm’s hourly plate output from 21 B1 plates/hour to around 27 (per machine).

He added: “We can’t run them at full speed yet because we’re still using the TS plate but once we migrate to the new TU plate we’ll be able to image 31 plates per hour on each machine, which is quite a leap from 21.”

Potts, which achieved a record operating profit in 2014 of more than £1m, announced its £3m re-equip following its acquisition of Digital XL Services late last year.

Commenting on the firm's record operating profit, chief executive Michael Sandford-Couch said: "We intend to use this result as a springboard for a long-term strategy to develop and expand all divisions of the business - litho and digital printing, direct mail, large format printing and high-end printed packaging."

To drive this strategy, Potts has promoted Keith McHugh and Iain McDougal to technical directors in the firm's new Large Format Printing Division; Kevin Brown and Brian Watson to operations and production director roles respectively on the firm's supervisory board; and Tom Groves and Rob Curtis to the roles of clients services director and training & development director on the business development board.

There have also been promotions to head of their respective departments for Sarah Bailey (client services), Michael Johnson (production), Michael Blake (purchasing) and Paul Murphy (systems & accreditations).

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