Digital and Offset Convergence -- Going Long on Shorter Runs
Process selection is simply a matter of figuring out which method can produce the work most efficiently based on the product specifications. “Any argument about quality has by and large gone away,” says Angstrom. The company has former sheetfed customers whose work is now being done on its new web press, and they are ecstatic about the results, he notes.
More than just run lengths are converging at St. Joseph Print, a division of St. Joseph Communications, in Toronto. The company is planning to relocate two of its current operations—one primarily a sheetfed plant and the other a digital shop—into a new, 140,000-square-foot facility in nearby Concord. It is creating a printing campus by situating this combined plant next to its existing, 300,000-square-foot web offset operation that recently underwent a $50 million revitalization program.
That program included installing three new manroland Rotoman S heatset web presses (one 48-pager and two 16-pagers) during the past three years. The company traded in several presses, but still increased overall capacity along with improving makeready.
“We bought absolutely state-of-the-art equipment because our main focus was reducing -makeready time and waste, so we can focus on short runs,” says John Gagliano, president of St. Joseph Print. “Our run lengths have certainly been reduced on the web offset side. We are producing many more plates for the same or fewer overall impressions.”
Customer crossover for its web, sheetfed and digital printing services is the impetus for the company’s latest investment program, Gagliano continues. “We are seeing more and more clients that need all three processes, but there still are a fair number that buy a la carte. We will be able to better service customers that want to buy all three from one source.”
Hybrid digital and offset applications are something St. Joseph is pushing in a big way, he notes. “If a client wants to do large volumes and is worried about the click cost (for digital), we tell them we can do part of it variable and then marry that up with a static run—whether sheetfed or web—in the bindery using barcodes to ensure that work gets done properly.”