Geoff Neal Group is the first company to place an order for the Drupa version Speedmaster XL 106, featuring the new Prinect Press Center XL 2 with its 65 inch wall screen and new 19 inch Multi-Touchscreen and more intuitive operating system. The five-colour and coating press will be delivered, with Inpress Control 2 spectral measurement and Autoplate Pro plate-changing, in December.
The new press will replace a 2010 Speedmaster XL 105-5+LX and will run alongside an XL 106-5+LX.
“In the days of Speedmaster CD and SM technology we kept our presses for eight to ten years but they produced about 20 million impressions a year. The Speedmaster XL models are outputting over 50 million impressions a year so the planned replacement period is much shorter,” says Sam Neal, managing director.
In 2010 his father and company founder Geoff Neal had said that the company should buy second-hand rather than new given the tougher recessionary market conditions. However, a visit to Ipex when father and son saw the Speedmaster XL press with Inpress Control automated colour and register control changed all that and it proved the right business decision.
“It did exactly what Heidelberg said it would do and doubled the productivity of our previous press,” says Sam Neal. “We serve major brands – including 23 car companies, Dyson, Sky and Christian Dior to name a few – and we know that customers are aware of the power of the Speedmaster XL. It ticks the box because the press is synonymous with quality and reliability.”
The placing of the order comes as Geoff Neal retreats from the day to day running of the business and heads for Jersey. He will, however, retain the title of chairman and provide technical consultancy to the business which he built up to a 90 staff, £15m business with a reputation for top quality and service.
“We can see that the new Press Center XL will make it simpler to navigate and access information. It will provide meaningful information and even allow multi-screen views. There will be an increase in productivity because it will show where we are, or are not, being efficient,” says Geoff Neal. “Likewise Inpress Control 2 will be faster and further minimise waste and it is our first move away from manual plate mounting with Autoplate Pro and that will give the operator two minutes per job to focus on other tasks. The blanket wash up time is also reduced from 1 minute 17 seconds to 50 seconds. The improvements are cumulative.”
Geoff Neal Group has never stinted on training because it recognises that productivity is more often compromised by mindset and by physical logistics than by the press automation and output. It admits that when its first Speedmaster XL press was installed it took some time for it to maximise its potential because it had to trust the press and to realise its capability. The company has a loyal staff, due in part to their willingness to run top flight technology plus good remuneration and recognition.
“We anticipate the new press giving us a 10-15% lift in productivity over the older XL,” says Sam Neal. “This press is like a Formula 1 car; it is built to work at 100% output across a wide range of stocks, paper and board, which is important as we handle jobs on 80gsm through to 700 micron. We can and do run to ISO 12647-2, Fogra or a buyer’s bespoke colour standards. Many customers come in to pass on ”
Geoff adds: “Heidelberg remote service is excellent and we have a preventative maintenance contract, too. We find the support and access to expert help with a gap only between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon great for our 24/7 operation and ‘make it happen’ approach to producing great, creative print. If Heidelberg doesn’t let us down, we don’t let our customers down. We rely on each other.”
Geoff Neal Group will send out two teams of four to Drupa, including Geoff and Sam Neal, to view the Heidelberg hall but also to look for ideas which would give them an advantage, either in offering something different or solving an existing production issue. They say it is often the smaller companies that surprise them with an innovation.