Acorn Web Offset is set for a capacity boost after investing in a new 32pp Lithoman press from Manroland Goss Web Systems.
The Normanton, West Yorkshire-based printer said it has purchased the press to replace one of its two existing 16pp Rotoman web presses, which will be kept on in the short term and sold on at a later date, and to meet the changing needs of its customers.
Installation will begin later this month and the press is expected to be up and running from early May.
Capable of printing at speeds up to 37,500iph, the machine will enable the business to continue its focus on short and medium-length A4 and A5 multi-page products. It forms part of a £6m spend at the 119-staff business that also includes additional warehousing, factory layout improvements and two platemaking lines from Agfa.
While the business scoped out the market prior to purchase, Acorn managing director Mark Roberts praised the support the project had received from Manroland, which he said “had fought hard for the business and responded perfectly to the brief, showing a good understanding of where Acorn operates in the market”.
“It was of great importance to the simplicity of our offering that this was a double circumference press, meaning we could continue to use the same standard 870mm reels as our 16pp presses,” he added.
“The machine will give us a significant uplift in productivity, flexibility and quality. Most importantly, it is very efficient on shorter runs and switching from job to job, which is key for our portfolio of work.”
With four printing units and an automatically adjustable folder, the Lithoman features inline control systems for cut-off, colour and ink density. This guarantees the shortest makeready and changeover times with the lowest waste, the company said.
Acorn said the machine’s ‘QuickStart’ and ‘QuickStop’ features will prove particularly important for frequent job changes.
Acorn sales director Matt Carry told PrintWeek: “We’ve got some existing customers that have a percentage of their portfolio in with us and we’re keen to move the balance of it to us because we’re doing a good job for them, but we haven’t been able to take advantage of that because we’ve consistently been at our ceiling.
“We’d like some modest growth, but the press has not solely been bought for that reason. We want to capitalise on the new technology and the efficiencies that it drives. Generally, the demand for high web-offset print is still declining as a market, but if we can get some additional contracts in and a little bit of extra growth, we’ll be pleased.”
He added: “We’ve got a plan and we’ve got some opportunities with some key customers that have been willing to engage with us throughout the research and purchasing development of this press so there are some things we are hoping to move across fairly quickly.
“The key is investing in the right area and the right technology. Certain magazine quantities are declining, we deal with a lot of niche and specialist publications and there is a lot of rapid changeover and rapid makeready to produce those titles and this press gives us that efficiency.”
For Manroland the deal marks the first new web press it has sold into the UK market since Warners Midlands took on a 32pp Lithoman in 2014.
On a wider scale, it marks the biggest spend on a new web press in the UK since Polestar completed the installation of three large pagination Goss web offset presses at its Sheffield supersite in 2015.
Manroland Web Systems (UK) managing director John Ellis told PrintWeek: “We are absolutely delighted to have received the order.
“It’s been a long road with Acorn with the change of management with Mark and Matt purchasing the company [in 2013]. They’ve been there a long time, have a lot of experience and know the company inside out and now they are driving forward investment and competitiveness. It’s a very exciting time for them and for us and we’re looking forward to it.”
With a turnover of £18.5m, Acorn Web Offset produces A4 and A5 magazines, catalogues and brochures for publishers, retailers, local government and some print management companies. The company also runs a B1 KBA UV press that it uses for covers.