PBL Print overhauls press room with £2.3m kit investment

By Jez Abbott, Friday 18 March 2016

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PBL Print is undertaking a production “metamorphosis” costing £2.3m and involving a clear-out of five Heidelberg presses to be replaced by two newer versions and three digital machines.


Eric Stevenson (L) and Chris Murley

Out will go three B3 Heidelberg Anicolor presses, two four-colour and one five-colour model, one five-colour Speedmaster SX 74 and a two-colour Printmaster PM 74.

In will go two highly specified and matching five-colour Speedmaster XL 75s with coaters, two Heidelberg Linoprint CP digital presses and a Ricoh C8100.

Each XL 75 is equipped with the latest Inpress Control 2 spectral colour and register adjustment system, Autoplate Pro and an ink cartridge system.

The two XL 75s will allow the company to run with one common plate size, cut overheads, increase output and further enhance its colour consistency.

PBL Print, which has 40 staff and has sales of just over £4m, hopes the equipment will increase its turnover to £5m in 12 months.

The press swap will be staged over four weeks at PBL Print's premises in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, and will be complete by May.

PBL Print managing director Eric Stevenson said: “The move is down to efficiency. The Anicolor machines were fantastic but were just not efficient enough.

“We wanted to reduce our overheads and have gone from 12 to six print staff. The XL 75s are so efficient they will give us more capacity.”

Five of the previous print staff were redeployed while the firm found work for the sixth with another print company.

“We were looking to buy one additional B2 press, but we looked closer at the costs and analysed the barriers to growth,” said Stevenson.

“It made sense for us to undertake a complete change in our production portfolio. We are installing a Polar guillotine and adopting a web-to-print portal for consumers and new ganging software.

“The software from Tharstern will link with Heidelberg's smart automation to further improve our efficiency.”

Sales director Chris Murley added: “Inpress Control is like an Anicolor on steroids. It will reduce our start-up waste to 30 to 40 sheets per job and the colour will be totally consistent.

“Heidelberg will provide Print Colour Management (PCM) as part of the installation process and the project planning is such that disruption to production will be minimised.”

PBL Print will use fewer plates as a result of linking up its Tharstern MIS and Prinect production workflows. The portal and ganging software will allow it to intelligently batch jobs together.

This reduces waste and set-ups and is also an opportunity to expand its business-to-consumer work. Currently most of its work is for the print management sector, the NHS and public bodies.

The two colour digital presses are high speed 130ppm digital machines selected for the quality of output and the ability to run 6pp A4 work, which is a regular request for PBL Print.

The lower click charge and higher productivity on this latest generation model means PBL Print’s breakpoint between litho and digital will move from runs of roughly 200 to 500.

The Polar 66 guillotine will be housed alongside the presses and will be dedicated to digital cutting work. Currently the company’s turnover is split 70%/30% in favour of litho and no major shift is anticipated.

The company’s finishing section runs three Polar guillotines, laminating and die-cutting machines, two Stahlfolders, two Horizon stitchers and a Stitchmaster ST100 saddle-stitcher, together with two perfect binders, three shrink-wrapping lines and various ancillary binding equipment.

PBL Print operates 24 hours, five days a week and this latest round of investment will increase capacity and efficiency, allowing PBL to grow.

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