SPS specified its new XL75-5+L with Heidelberg’s Inpress Control and Autoplate XL technology, giving a marked reduction in makereadies versus the older press, which is only equipped with Axis Control.

Paul Clifton, co-owner of SPS with business partner Karl Nicholson, explained that the addition of the inline Inpress Control on the new model, versus Axis Control on the older press, was the biggest improvement.

“With Axis Control you have to run a hundred or so sheets, take one out, scan it, make the adjustments, while with Inpress, because it’s constantly monitoring inside the press so you’re hitting your targets virtually straight away, whereas with the old press it’s taking a little while longer,” he said.

“Having Autoplate as well, so the operator just needs to put the plates in the rack and then the press runs through its cycle and all the plates change simultaneously, means we’ve cut the makereadies on section work to minutes.”

Clifton’s business partner Karl Nicholson said: “Technology has moved on. Makereadies on the first XL take about 15 minutes but on this latest press it’s reduced to three to five minutes and every job we throw at it runs at the full 15,000sph.”

Clifton added: “We do a lot of small run stuff – the average run on the new XL75 is probably around 5,000 to 10,000 – and makereadies are the biggest time waster. That’s also why we took a 15,000sph machine; we didn’t think the 18,000sph with the short runs we have was worth the extra money – we just wanted to cut down on the makereadies and get the extra automation.”

The Leicester-based print business, which employs 28 staff and has a turnover of around £2.8m, installed the new press over the summer, replacing a six-colour Heidelberg SM 74, which has since been sold via a secondhand dealer to a buyer in China.

Clifton said it was not a conscious decision to sell the press overseas, adding that there was a good market for non-perfecting presses in Asia. “They don’t like long perfectors, they like straight sixes on the Asian market,” he said. “They don’t want that level of automation and the old 74s have fewer breakdowns without perfectors.”

Meanwhile, the added automation on the new XL75 means that the older machine is now running on a single night shift, while the new press is running round the clock. Both presses run with one operator and a shared assistant per shift, which has allowed SPS to reduce its headcount by four.

SPS also specified Heidelberg’s FilterStar technology on the new XL 75, which Clifton prolonged the life of the fount solution by up to 50% from four to six weeks, and paid extra for the manufacturer’s Carbon Neutral option, which offsets the carbon produced in the making of the press.