LIA gets close up with the latest addition to Sydney’s printing arsenal at Centrum Printing.
Full marks for Centrum Printing’s $4million + investment in a brand new KBA Rapida 145 six-colour +coater full-size offset press, which takes its place alongside an existing KBA 162 in the impressive production site at Chipping Norton.
Full marks also to owner, Percy Vij, for old-fashioned printing entrepreneurship in backing his business with the latest in printing technology. And full marks too for his nerve and vision in taking such a leap into high end and expensive technology when a lot of the industry is holding back on offset spending, nervous about the future.
The new ‘for trade & reseller’ printing powerhouse in Sydney’s southwestern suburbs hosted a visit by the LIA last night, throwing open the factory for members to climb all over the new press. Barely a month old, the massive machine had put through a paltry 778,876 sheets when we were there. Printer Paul Trenear proclaimed himself well pleased with the performance so far, despite some expected teething problems.
KBA engineering and demo teams are back in town in the next few weeks to fine-tune the press and further train the printers. According to Sandra Mascaro, general manager, Centrum currently has three printers for the presses and is looking for another with further hires later in the year, in addition to taking on an extra two apprentices.
Currently operating two 8-hour shifts, five days a week, the appetite of the Rapida will eventually boost that to round-the-clock five-day production. Indeed the capacity of the press was a talking point among LIA members, with some speculating on where the work would come from. Centrum does a variety of commercial and marketing work, always through third parties.
According to a confident Percy Vij, there’s no problem with demand, although he confesses that he wants to engage with many more printers in order to fully utilize the press. “We have made the investment so that the whole industry can share the benefits,” he said. “I want to work together with printers who do not have to spend their own money on presses.”
He is not finished investing yet, flagging a possible large die-cutter as the next piece of the production set-up. Currently, with the exception of a massive Chinese-made Yisheng JX168 laminator the print passes swiftly through the factory to the finishing facility next door. Continuing investment there is required to meet growing demands for end-to-end service.
Prepress is via two Epson SureColor wide format inkjets, but according to Marina Garces, customer service manager, most of the customers accept PDF soft-proofs, apart from those that come in for press checks on extremely colour sensitive material such as cosmetic promotions. The workflow is ISO 9001 compliant throughout so Vij maintains that when a job’s been printed once there is little adjustment required for repeat work. Indeed Centrum is fully compliant with environmental and OHS ISO standards. Food compliance is currently being undertaken to expand the range of work.
According to Mascaro, while it may seem unusual for what is a relatively small printing company to have such a level of production capacity, Centrum’s determination to survive required it to ditch two old Heidelbergs and embark on the upgrade. “It’s all about not being limited. If we didn’t innovate we couldn’t compete with the big end of town. You need to take risks in printing. We now have the flexibility of a small printer with the capacity to meet all customers demands,” she said. Currently Centrum is doing research on lenticular printing in response to customer inquiries
“We’re a small company, with big vision and big toys,” said Mascaro.
Correction: in the email version of this story the KBA Rapida 145 was wrongly termed a five-colour press. It is as described above a six-colour press, as is it’s companion, the KBA Rapida 162. We regret the error.