Mele Printing had a problem: how to bridge the gap between its 41" Speedmaster XL 105 offset press and its state-of-the-art high-speed digital production machine. It subsequently found the ideal solution in a 5-color Speedmaster 52 Anicolor press from Heidelberg.
The busy New Orleans-area printer needed a workhorse press that could a) handle the overflow of static work from its digital machine; b) enable the company to bring its small-format, short-run, 4-color envelope work in-house; and c) complement both the digital production engine as well as the Speedmaster XL 105, eventually allowing the company to sell an existing 29" Speedmaster CD 74 press, based on more efficient makereadies and higher run speeds.
The need for a new press arose in connection with a rapid growth in volume spurred by the success of Mele's online ordering and fulfillment business, and secured by the company's proven ability to provide fast turnaround on projects. Company representatives thought they were in the market for another digital press until a demonstration of the Anicolor machine at Graph Expo 2012 decisively changed their thinking.
"We went to the show aiming to add another digital press," said company president Mallery Mele. "We also were considering the Anicolor technology, but were skeptical about Heidelberg's claims to 10-sheet makereadies and consistent ink coverage. The demonstration absolutely convinced us that the Speedmaster 52 Anicolor was the solution to our problem. In the end, the very issues we were doubtful about—makeready time and ink coverage—were the factors that sold us on the press."
Three months post-installation, Mele's production workflow already revolves around the new Speedmaster 52 Anicolor. The new press is "dead center of our production," Mele says, able to offload excess static work from the company's digital machine and Printmaster QM 46 presses, as well as assume the production of the small-format, four-color envelopes Mele previously outsourced at an annual of cost of $50k.
Competitive advantages accruing to the new press mirror those the company already enjoys with the Speedmaster XL 105: Speed, cost-efficiency, and top-flight quality.
Summing up, "Partnership of the Speedmaster 52 Anicolor and the XL 105 is ideal for our production environment," Mele said. "I would even go so far as to say that the 20" Anicolor and 41" XL 105 is an ideal combo for any mid-size commercial shop doing at least $10 million in annual sales." Mele itself has recorded 10 percent to12 percent growth in each of the past four years, and is on track to reach $12M in sales in 2013.
At the moment, Mele Printing runs the Speedmaster 52 Anicolor machine roughly 70 percent of one shift, averaging 10-minute makereadies and 10 sheets up-to-color on the jobs it runs in that time. The company plans to expand its use of the Anicolor machine to two shifts, once its personnel feel comfortable living without the existing Speedmaster CD 74. For now, Mele said, the company is gradually weaning itself off its dependence on the 29" press.
"The problem right now is our exploding volume and coming to terms with the fear that if our Speedmaster XL 105 goes down, we won't be able to keep up," Mele explained. "Like it or not, everybody is afraid of relying on just one big press. When we finally make a complete switch, however, it will involve a plantwide process from estimating on."
The company's pressmen will be ready. Said Mele, "Heidelberg's Anicolor trainer was phenomenal, but since he left, even some of our pressmen who weren't formally trained on it have become fluent with the press, which is extremely intuitive and user-friendly."
Mele also took the opportunity to underscore his confidence in the Systemservice coverage his company maintains on its Speedmaster XL 105 and Speedmaster 52 Anicolor presses. "We love it," Mele said. "It resolves all our problems and doubts and makes us secure for the future."