Last updateFri, 05 Jun 2020 6am

Doors Open for Aspen Press After Installation of Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106

Aspen Press and Packaging, a fast-growing, high-quality commercial printer in Sandy, Utah, has experienced a positive sea change in its business since installing a Speedmaster XL 106-6+L earlier this year.

The new press is a first for the all-Heidelberg print shop in many ways, not least because until now, Aspen had previously purchased used Heidelberg equipment through a series of brokers. "Buying new technology is a whole new ballgame and a leap of faith for us," said Scott Robbins, company president. "We had seen the XL 106 in demos at shows, but many unknowns remained until it was installed in our shop. Now that it is, the press is everything we thought it would be and performing beautifully, just as Heidelberg said it would."

Up and Running—Fast
After four months post-training on the XL 106, the company still has a portion of the learning curve to master. Nevertheless, Aspen's "personal best" thus far has been impressive: One million impressions per week, 284,000 sheets per 24 hours, most at 18,000 sph. "I feel we're still warming up," Robbins said.

Prinect Pressroom Manager neatly integrates the new press into Aspen's Rampage workflow, enabling the creation of ink profiles and presetting of the feeder and delivery for both the new XL 106 and Aspen's existing Speedmaster CD 102. "With Prinect Pressroom Manager, we also can track makereadies and costing, and extract data via the Prinect Cockpit user interface," explained Vice President Mark Mandel. The company recently earned its G7 qualification and soon will enlist Heidelberg's Print Color Management (PCM) program to optimize the press and color management system by keeping makeready times and waste to a minimum.

Growth Enabler
Aspen's purchase of the Speedmaster XL 106 also was a significant factor in facilitating its merger with Olympus Packaging in March 2014. "Before we bought the XL 106, we lacked sufficient capacity to grow our packaging business," Robbins said. "We were bursting at the seams in 25,000 square feet. As a result of the merger, we added another 22,000 square feet and gained the space we needed." The business currently splits the business between commercial printing (60 percent) and packaging work (40 percent).

A well-diversified company that holds both FSC and SFI certifications, Aspen Press produces non-sensitive cosmetic and HABA packaging, as well as a broad range of high-end commercial printing for clients in the education and insurance markets, advertising agencies and Salt Lake City-area sports franchises. Although Aspen already ships products for national and international markets, the company expects the added capabilities of the Speedmaster XL 106 to help expand its horizons substantially beyond the state of Utah.

"We already specialize in high-quality commercial work," Robbins said. "The XL 106 moves us further along that path. Heidelberg's Prinect Inpress Control spectrophotometric inline measuring system is a breath of fresh air that gets us to the peak of quality that much faster. We have a couple of very quality-sensitive fine art customers that have started to give us additional work for this very reason."

Confidence Builder
Now that word of the new press is out, new and existing customers are eager to avail themselves of Aspen's new technology, and the company is happy to oblige.

"The press is just so quick," he added. "Customers are in and out for press checks in five minutes, compared with 30 minutes they used to spend with our older presses (a 4-color Speedmaster SM 102 and 6-color Speedmaster CD 102). Ad agencies, in particular, like to take advantage of new technology when they can, and all of our customers are thrilled to see the details of their jobs displayed on the XL 106's 52" Wallscreen."

The new XL 106 also has made Aspen more competitive with web presses on longer runs. "We've found that existing customers feel more confident bringing us larger jobs we couldn't have taken on before, due to limited capacity—jobs they previously were forced to take out-of-state or produce on another company's webs," Steve Evans, CFO. "With the new XL 106, however, we can produce work in the 50,000-100,000 sheet range in a lot less time against the web presses."

That said, "The Speedmaster XL 106 is so fast, you have to ramp up the system around it and develop your lean manufacturing environment," Robbins cautioned. To ensure an adequate supply of plates is available to the new XL 106, for example, Aspen replaced its aging thermal platesetter with a Suprasetter 106 CtP device with Dual-Cassette loader from Heidelberg. The unit currently produces about 4500 plates per month for the new press.

On Time and By the Numbers
According to Robbins, the Speedmaster XL 106 is the fourth press installed by Aspen since 2002, as well as the company's first new purchase. "Our experience during installation made us wish we'd had the benefit of professional Heidelberg support instead of struggling with the process of buying used with zero support from the broker," Robbins said. In contrast, "Installation of the XL 106 was handled so methodically that we were able to budget for the cost without incurring a lot of hidden expenses. Even before the new press shipped, we had in hand the full schedule mapped out day by day. There were no surprises. Once the press arrived, we had three-to-four Heidelberg technicians practically living here throughout the two-week installation and training period."

Robbins reports that since Aspen contracted to buy the Speedmaster XL 106 in October 2013, "We've essentially doubled our sales force, and are growing at an annualized rate of 40 percent," he said. "All things considered, we're right where we want to be, adding value for our customers," he said. "The new press clearly makes us a leader in the state of Utah."



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