Saturday, 24 September 2011

Spellman Walker site visit

Jury Service came in useful for something!  The Commercial Manager from Spellman Walker was on my Jury panel.   He very kindly offered to let me have a look around the factory from Estimating through planning, pre-press, proofing to the shop floor, recycling and storage.

Their client base is mainly commercial serving Banks and Insurance companies although they also serve The Public sector, Museums and also work closely with some charities.  One client,a successful international flooring company has the ambition to be carbon zero by 2020.  To support their client they part sponsored the production of their Fairworks publication. Practically on site they recycle all their waste paper which is compacted and sold on for recycling.

To be competitive they also offer clients a storage and distribution service whereby clients can go online and order promotional material from the Storage warehouse.  They also have agreements with all the major paper merchants to stock large quantities of paper on a consignment stock basis to reduce delays on tight deadline work.  This provides flexibility; receive an urgent order on a Friday and be able to deliver on a Monday morning.

Unfortunately due to strict client confidentiality I couldn't take photographs. 

The tour started in their Estimating office, the first point of contact with receipt of a client order.  This department raises a job to calculate paper and production costs.  This is passed on to Production Planning who slot the job into the planning schedule on the appropriate press.  The job file is past through to pre-press where the design team check the files for errors and prepare to upload on their 'Prinergy' workflow system for proofing.  Areas that Designers can get wrong are omitting bleed (Spellman use 3mm), trapping (pg 126, Production manual), using spot colours which aren't CMYK, using RGB images or images which have too low resolution or too high.  

The client usually signs off a PDF proof although the Heidelberg presses are calibrated to the Epson plotters in their office.  So when a client actually signs the print proof off, what they see will be what they get.

The Planning team then set up the files imposition template on 'Upfront' imposition software and basically prepare the job for the printers on the shop floor.  The instruction contains information such as stock, a colour band, no of prints. They also define fold marks, cut marks and various other line up marks as appropriate. The aluminium plates can then be prepared to start the Offset Lithography printing (P 152, Production Manual)  

Their Heidelberg Press Hall boasts 2 B1 Speedmaster CD 102 presses, each offering six colours and a coating unit, together with 2 B2 presses – a Speedmaster CD 74 five colour machine with coater unit and a Speedmaster SM 72 two colour perfecting press. 

Heidelberg B1 CD102 

Additionally they operate a Sanwa die-cutting and creasing machine which is used for folders, pockets and complex cut-outs. Last month they added a 10 colour press which print both sides in a single run.  This offers them the ability to run high volume runs very quickly.  

Sheets of paper are delivered on pallets and are sized to fit directly at the beginning of the press.  The press is computerised and the job is set up in the system.  The printers still use colour densiometers to check and adjust colour. They also have Image checking software which colour matches to the colour bars automatically and is capable of automatically adjusting the press.  Some presses print one sided so each run will be pass through the press twice but the more recent ones are capable of double sided prints in one pass.

The guillotine machines are also programmed with various templates so the operator just needs to line the sheets of paper in the guillotines.  The folds are also created via a machine although an operator is requited to feed in and bundle them out.  The guidelines printed on the paper are essential for lining sheets so they are correctly cut and folded.  The stitching and stapling is also automated.

Although in recent years technology has reduced a Print shops workforce considerably there is still a need for a Printers eye and also operators to handle machinery and facilitate processes.

A Spellman Walker promotional calendar designed by The Chase:

No comments:

Post a Comment