GRAPH EXPO 2006: Sheetfed/Web Offset Presses — Heyday(s) For Heavy IronNovember 2006
Even with less heavy iron dotting the landscape at Chicago’s McCormick Place South Hall, the general consensus among press manufacturers indicated it was the most productive Graph Expo event they’ve experienced since the late ’90s.
Visitor traffic was brisk and serious buying activity persisted. Chalk it up to printers’ realization that they need to automate their pressrooms and differentiate themselves through custom press configurations, perfecting, increased color units, UV/hybrid capabilities, double coaters and the like.
Perhaps it’s also due to a sustained U.S. economy of late and the positive business conditions felt by a majority of printers, many of which had been waiting on the sidelines these past years. The rush to buy didn’t happen overnight; several press manufacturers hosting press events in Chicago reported double-digit sales increases during the past year.
Sustained Sales Gains
Komori America kicked off Graph Expo with a press conference the evening before the opening day. Komori America President and COO Stephan Carter indicated sales were up 12 percent, marking the third consecutive year of double-digit growth. He was followed by a Q&A discussion featuring Komori customers Chuck Chalifoux, president of ColorDynamics in Allen, TX; and Zarik Megerdichian, president of 4 Over Inc., a short-run trade printer headquartered in Glendale, CA, that’s grown to $42 million in sales in just five years.
Komori and Fujifilm also announced a partnership targeted toward small- to medium-size printers. The turnkey solution includes Komori’s entry-level, 29˝ Spica 29P convertible perfector, Fuji’s four-up Dart thermal platesetter and pressroom consumables, as well as CIP3 integration. Also revealed are plans to fully integrate EFI’s Auto-Count 1000 shop floor data collection technology into the Komori Management System (KMS).
Sporting a “Kando: Beyond Expectations” banner, Komori’s booth featured 12 daily demonstrations of a six-color, 40˝ LS40 sheetfed press featuring the new PDC-SII scanning spectrodensitometer; a four-color Spica 29P; and the North American debut of the LS29 press. Designed for quick job changeovers, the LS29 design features an enhanced dampening system, updated suction tape feeder, the addition of a lower rider roller and a Harris & Bruno doctor chamber coating system as standard.
While electing to hold off making public individual press sales agreements until actual delivery, Komori confirmed the sale of 46 machines worth $74 million during Graph Expo, including an eight-color LS40 sheetfed press and a six-unit System 38 web to CGI North America of Jersey City, NJ.
On the service front, a new addition to the KomoriCare package is its 18x2 warranty plan. This new program provides full coverage for the first 18 months of ownership and an additional 18 months of coverage on major press components. Included are two press wellness checks by a Komori service team.
Service plans were also a key theme during Heidelberg USA’s press conference held the following morning. Building on the successful launch of its systemservice 36plus program at PRINT 05, Heidelberg unveiled its new Partner Program.
It allows customers to customize their own service plan, choosing from a suite of 20 standard and premium offerings. These include predictive and preventative maintenance in the areas of parts supply, repair service, remote diagnostics, remote inspection, software support and maintenance inspection.
Also launched was a new Website, www.printersadvantage.com, as part of Heidelberg’s Printers Advantage program specifically tailored for small offset printing companies.
Employing the theme “Connect for Success,” Heidelberg showed its new Anicolor zoneless short inking unit with dampening system for the first time in the United States. Designed for four-color models of the Speedmaster SM 52, it will become commercially available next fall. The technology makes the press suitable for very short runs, even just a few hundred sheets.
With Anicolor, the ink is stored in the ink chamber rather than on the surface of the rollers, where it is housed in a conventional inking unit. This means the operator does not need to adjust any ink keys during makeready, thus cutting makeready time by up to 40 percent and increasing press capacity by 25 percent or more.
Also running at the show was a six-color Speedmaster CD 74 press with coater and extended delivery featuring Heidelberg’s Peak Performance Package, which enables real speeds of up to 18,000 iph on a wide range of substrates. This is accomplished through a newly developed suction head and automatic pile lifting control system, as well as a dynamic sheet break that contributes to a precisely aligned pile at very high speeds.
The eight-color Speedmaster XL 105 equipped with a coating unit and extended delivery running in Heidelberg’s booth was sold to Oracle Packaging, a Winston-Salem, NC-based flexible packaging and folding carton converter.
A six-color Speedmaster CD 102 with coating unit and extended delivery was also shown in an entry-level, more affordable, configuration.
Although KBA North America opted to show only one press in its booth, the press manufacturer did make several major announcements. During its press conference, Ralf Sammeck, president and CEO, revealed that KBA will integrate its sheetfed and web divisions into one operation for sales and service.
The company is transferring its web press sales, service and parts activities from York, PA, to its sheetfed division headquarters in suburban Burlington, VT.
With a reported 80 percent market share in the large-format sheetfed market, the company also announced plans to invest more than $5 million in its newly renovated customer center in Vermont, including the installation early next year of a six-color, 56˝ Rapida 142 press with coater. Likewise, a waterless, keyless 29˝ perfector (Rapida 74 G) will debut in 2007.
Graph Expo also served as the launching pad for KBA’s new consumables division. A Website has been created to enable online consumables ordering.
Aside from waiting in long lines for the 5,000 maps printed on an 81˝ Rapida 205 prior to the show, visitors were able to check out the new version of KBA’s Genius 52 UV press printing various substrates, including plastic and lenticular.
Building on KBA’s reported 25 percent sales growth rate in 2006, press sales announced during the show included an eight-color Rapida 105 UV perfector to BL Litho in Montreal; a six-color Rapida 142 to All Out Printing in Woodridge, IL; a five-color Genius 52 to Las Vegas-based H&H Enterprises; and three 74 Karat presses to an unnamed Midwestern printer.
MAN Roland also reported an across-the-board rise in North American sales at its press conference. Current CEO Yves Rogivue—who will be succeeded in that role by COO Vince Lapinski effective January 1—pointed to record North American press sales growth this year of 28 percent (38 percent for sheetfed; 21 percent for web).
Sales announced at the show included a 32-page commercial web to Hi-Liter/Inland Graphics of Burlington, WI; a 10-color Roland 700 perfector for McArdle Printing, Upper Marlboro, MD; an eight-color 700 perfector for The Sheridan Press, Hanover, PA; and a five-color Roland 500 perfector to Brainerd, MN-based Bang Printing.
Electing to shuttle customers to its demo center and nearby customer sites in lieu of demonstrating equipment in its booth, MAN Roland did promote its printservices. A related exhibit feature was printcom—a consumables, parts and supply source. Its latest development, a Website called manroland- direct.com, connects customers to an inventory of some 80,000 spare parts and consumable components.
Similar sales success marked the xpedx Printing Technologies booth, which marked the first time that press manufacturer Ryobi and its distributor, xpedx, shared a single booth to showcase the wide breadth of company offerings. xpedx is North America’s largest distributor of paper, prepress, on-press and postpress supplies and equipment, plus packaging and facility supplies and equipment. xpedx also relies on a team of 50 Ryobi dealers across the U.S. to provide localized service.
Three Ryobi presses were shown: a five color, 23x29˝ 755XL-E with UV capabilities; a four-color, 14x20˝ 524GX-P perfector; and a 3404 DI. Ryobi’s CIP4-JDF compliant MIS system also received attention.
Don Harvey, vice president and general manager, indicated that the opening day was the best first day of any Graph Expo he had participated in since 1968. Harvey attributed some of the high interest in Ryobi presses to the benefits of six-up (29˝) press formats in comparison to 40˝ models. With industry trends toward short runs requiring quick makereadies and job changeovers, he pointed to the 29˝ format’s added benefits of less manning and electrical requirements.
Czech Republic-based ADAST reported enthusiastic response to its “Automation Affordable” feature set, which the company combines with CIP3/CIP4 compatibility and perfecting options to offer sheetfed offset presses designed for short-run, multicolor work.
The feature set includes: semi-automatic plate changers; the CIP3/CIP4-compatible AdaControl computerized inking console; automatic blanket washers; and automatic ink roller washup with auto-spray to disperse ink wash fluid.
ADAST demonstrated a five-color, 191⁄2x26˝ model 757 sheetfed press with an in-line coater.
60-second Plate Changes
Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses’ (MLP U.S.A.) “New Technology Opening New Worlds” exhibit theme featured ongoing demonstrations of SimulChanger, its newly developed plate changing technology. A six-color, 28x40˝ Diamond 3000LX sheetfed UV press, equipped with a tower coater, extended delivery and SimulChanger, ran a number of jobs on cellulose-type paper, carton stock and plastic substrates.
With the fully automated SimulChanger, a complete plate change on all units can be carried out in approximately one minute, regardless the number of colors involved.
The company also highlighted additional new technologies, such as its Portable DRA system for measuring and analyzing press performance, as well as the Mitsubishi Color Control System V (MCCS-V). The latest version of Digital Register Analysis (DRA) can identify the exact cause and location of complex mechanical problems on any size or make of press at customer sites and then recommend appropriate solutions.
Sakurai USA exhibited the expanded family of its SD series of automated offset presses, which now includes a 20x26˝ size, as well as the popular 235⁄8x31˝ size. Both press sizes are available with perfecting and UV and aqueous coaters.
Announced at the show was the sale of a five-color, 23x30˝ Sakurai press with coater to Sun Dance Graphics in Orlando.
Hamada of America debuted the Duetto Mark I perfector, which features a new feeder that has the ability to run makeready waste from one feeder pile, then good sheets from another pile—or it can be used as a continuous feeder. Also shown was the new B452 Mark II, a 14x20˝ sheetfed press (available in two-, four- or five-color models with aqueous coating) that is capable of speeds to 10,000 sph.
Akiyama International highlighted its sheetfed press lineup, including the “eXtreme” one-sided press, the double-sided J Print series and the Bestech for high-quality output without perfecting.
On the web offset front, Goss International used the show to promote its Lifetime Support program for post-sale service, repair, parts replacement and training, as well as to tout some press installations. Cox Target Media in St. Petersburg, FL, (see Industry News, page 5) is in the process of putting in two eight-unit Sunday 4000 presses equipped with Automatic Transfer technology, and Papa John’s International has installed a four-unit Sunday 2000 within its commercial printing division in Louisville, KY.
Dauphin Graphic Machines promoted the DGM 440 press, a compact commercial UV or heatset press, replacing traditional in-house sheetfed and commercial half-web presses. Setup includes a combination folder producing up to 40,000 16-page signatures an hour, in addition to a finishing system producing 160,000 flat four-pagers an hour.
Despite numerous contracts signed during Graph Expo, manufacturers will be pressing ahead the next several weeks trying to close on leads generated at the show. PI
For more information on Graph Expo products, go to www.piworld.com and click on the Graph Expo roundup link.