A Heidelberg Linoprint C901 will be delivered to PBL Print's Chester-le-Street site next month, signalling the launch of a new digital division.
At the same time the company has completed a revamp of its finishing facilities (with new folding, stitching and binding machines) to enable it to meet the higher volume of working coming through from its litho presses as well as the new digital equipment
Two separate Web2Print installations will be rolled out over the next three months, one a Tharstern product for existing business to business customers and the other a bespoke solution that will pave the way for a separate business to consumer enterprise.
Sales director Chris Murley says that from his office he can see a For Sale notice on an adjacent business unit and he has not ruled out the idea of finding a property to house the new digital division, particularly as he believes growth will be such that he might well add a second C901 before the year end.
"The purchase of the Linoprint C 901 marks our debut in digital," says Mr Murley. "We believe it will complement our Speedmaster SM 52 Anicolors as runs become shorter and shorter. Quite a lot of our existing commercial customers are buying digital as well as litho print. We believe the breakeven between the Linoprint and Anicolor technology will be about 200 for booklets and about 500 to 1,000 on flat sheets but we are currently analysing the cost and profit details ahead of installation."
PBL, previously known a Printbylaser, looked at a number of digital machines before visiting Heidelberg for a demonstration of the Linoprint systems.
"We loved the quality, of course, but also the fact that the way it works and the way that it is charged out is simple. The costing doesn't vary or get complicated as it does on other systems," says Mr Murley. "We saw both the C901 and smaller C 751 but we want always to run the best of the best. If we are going to do digital, we are going to do it right."
Initially the C901 will run on days but shifts will be added as volume dictates. Initially it will be run by the prepress department but a dedicated operator could be recruited in future.
Furthermore the company is set to add a Eurotrim 1000 three knife trimmer to its Eurobind 1300 to improve throughput, having found that an economical perfect binding service is an attractive alternative to saddle-stitching for many clients. That said, PBL is also replacing a Horizon machine with a Stitchmaster ST350 in the next quarter of the year. It is a six-station plus cover feeder with a compensating stacker. This follows on from the installation of two highly automated Stahlfolders, a buckle and a combination machine, at the end of last year.
Emphasising its close relationship with Heidelberg and the front to back use of its kit, PBL Print has just redesigned its company signage to include the words Technology by Heidelberg.