Anton De Groot, director production & facility of the print company of the same name, is extremely satisfied with the investment in an eight-colour KBA Rapida 106 with simultaneous plate changing for his production facility in the picturesque Dutch village of Goudriaan. “It seems as if the printers here are walking around with a smile on their face all day,” he notes with a wink.

Over the 50 years since its founding, De Groot has installed a whole armada of printing presses in small to large formats. Private and business stationery, magazines, books and advertising products make up the bulk of the work to be done. Many of the jobs handled are for the retail trade, for which De Groot also offers tailored promotional print packages. At the same time, no-one shies the challenge of some very exclusive orders.

“We take a very systematic approach whenever we are looking for new machinery,” says Anton De Groot. “Our first closer contact with KBA’s sheetfed offset presses came at drupa 2012. Before then, KBA had not been on our shortlist.”

Every second counts today: The plates for the next job are already waiting on the press gallery (4)

Speed is becoming increasingly important

The latest investment was prepared very thoroughly, and extensive analyses were performed to compare various presses from Germany and Japan. “In the premium segment, the differences are often only small, but speed is becoming increasingly important,” Anton De Groot explains. “You could liken it to a pit stop in Formula One racing, where every second counts. The top production speed – which on the eight-colour Rapida 106 means 18,000 sheets per hour in perfecting mode – was one of the deal-clinching factors. The choice of the B1 format and the extremely fast job changeover times were similarly essential for our production. Our market demands fast delivery times and products of the highest quality.”

Training ahead of the installation

Anton De Groot: “KBA is a manufacturer who cares about our employees and our future.” (1)

“After the successful acceptance tests in Radebeul, five lorries brought the press to the Netherlands, where it was installed by engineers from KBA and Wifac. We then carried out some further tests and the results were even better than what we had already seen in Radebeul. Remarkable. For our printers, the new press also meant quite a change in daily procedures, because they were accustomed to working on other presses. But a few of them were in Radebeul for training, and so we are confident that we will be able to draw maximum benefit from the new Rapida. About a month passed between the training and the arrival of the Rapida 106. To bridge this time, the printers came home with an interactive PDF which allowed them to practise on the computer – not to forget a certificate! They all enjoyed it very much.”

The new eight-colour Rapida 106 is the first KBA press at De Groot in Goudriaan (2)

Growth through automated production

The long high-tech Rapida replaces an older eight-colour press and a B2 press. The significantly higher printing speed and the fast makeready of the Rapida 106 have boosted production capacity by approx. 40 per cent. Moreover, the range of substrates which De Groot is able to handle in perfecting has been expanded to cover grammages from approx. 60 to 500 gsm (0.6mm). The Rapida operates in three shifts, running at maximum speed for the most part. To support this performance, the whole press hall is arranged to ensure that plates, paper and ink (thanks to an automatic ink supply) can always be made available on time.

The printers enjoy working at the modern console of their highly automated press (3)

De Groot: “That is necessary to be able to implement our growth strategy. Run lengths are still decreasing, but the number of jobs has rocketed. Organisation and equipment must be geared to this situation, and we must move in the direction of full automation wherever possible. In the meantime, human intervention in the print process is the exception. That reduces the risk of mistakes. With the new press, we plan to increase our sales and secure the future of the company.”In advance of the installation of the new Rapida, De Groot invested in expansion and modernisation of its CtP pre-press. Timely plate availability is thus guaranteed. In addition, a second logistics centre has been set up. “Our goal is maximum sustainability. Low waste, low emissions and the lowest possible material consumption are pillars of our corporate culture.”

After two months, Anton de Groot presents a positive first summary: “The Rapida 106 has exceeded all expectations. Both the printers and our customers are very happy. With KBA, we have found a press manufacturer who cares about our employees and our future.”