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Here comes the sun as solar powers up Printak

Tuesday, 21 April 2015
By Print 21 Online Article

Adelaide printer Printak says its ‘world-first,’ fully-integrated 100 percent solar-powered print-room is delivering big cost savings and new green customers.

“It’s exciting to take a new approach and we’re reaping the benefits of vastly reduced power bills while attracting new clients,” said Printak MD David Bland, who started the company 30 years ago with his wife and Printak co-director Val.

The Green Room, Printak

The Printak ‘Green Room’ includes a Heidelberg GTO (single colour) and three digital printing presses, as well as various finishing units. All of the machines are powered by an array of the largest solar panels currently available. The Green Room generates five times more electricity than it uses, giving the company valuable power credits.

“We’ve seen a reduction of 25 per cent in our overall power bill,” said Bland, adding that the company has made other changes to reduce power consumption, including the installation of new lighting.  “We are now working on how we can use the solar power we are generating in the Green Room throughout the factory, which runs on a separate meter. I believe this will deliver an overall saving of more than forty per cent.”

“We’ve won new work that is directly attributable to our solar power innovation,” said Bland, citing campaigns that Printak has produced for The Greens political party in the last Federal and State elections. “That job alone recouped a good proportion of the investment cost. We’ve attracted other major accounts too, including local councils who see the value in working with a print company that has tangible environmental credentials. We live in one of the places on earth where we can take full advantage of the sun, unlike those in the Northern Hemisphere where months of heavy cloud and even snow can reduce or even prevent the opportunities to generate consistent power. In Australia, we don’t have that issue.”

At the beginning of the project, Printak commissioned an electrician to run an extensive testing program to determine the power demands and capacity of the proposed solar system.  The setting up of the company’s all-solar Green Room, including a major renovation to a section of the print floor to accommodate the specialist operation, represented a significant capital investment by the company. However, Bland anticipates it will only take eight years to recoup the investment, and with the system having been in place for three years this June, he says they are already ahead of schedule.

Bland is keen to see his idea embraced by the industry. “I’d happily help others to set up the same way and achieve what we are doing. It’s great for our clients and there’s no extra cost to them because the return on investment comes through the reduction of our power bills. And it’s great for the environment and the future sustainability of our industry.  By combining energy collection, which costs nothing once the system is installed, with carbon-neutral practices and recycled paper, ours has to be the purest print on earth.”

Heidelberg, which has worked with Printak for three decades, says the company’s commitment to reducing its energy footprint sets a great benchmark for the rest of the industry.  “It’s fantastic to see presses being powered by solar energy,” said Brian Evans, Heidelberg account manager.  “David and his team have shown how to take the first step and start putting green practices in place.”

Located in the heart of Adelaide city, Printak employs a total staff of 14.  In 2013, Printak took out a gold medal at the PICA Awards, winning the Zero Waste SA Improved Resource Efficiency Award.



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