BCQ Group, UK:

“Our Promatrix turns a nightmare 50-hour cylinder job into a six hour breeze”.

Like many commercial printers, BCQ Group had previously relied on old converted letterpress cylinder and platen machines to handle its cutting and creasing needs.

“We have a long-term relationship with Heidelberg and trust their sales and service,” says Chris Knowles, managing Director of BCQ, at the time of the order. “The Promatrix is an affordable option for commercial printers and we are confident that the equipment is being manufactured to Heidelberg standards by Masterwork in China. We viewed the machine in Germany and are very pleased with the test results.”

"The packaging market does hold a fair amount of interest for us as a business and this machine will offer a firm foothold into making it viable"

Knowles took along one of his more challenging regular jobs to Germany, to see how the Promatrix handled it. This was a large kiss cut in the shape of a phone. On the old systems the job was taking two hours to make ready, with about 100 waste sheets. In Heidelberg Knowles saw the same job being set up in 15 minutes and output at 7,500sph with only two waste sheets. The cut quality was better too, he says.

He says he also considered alternative suppliers and methods: “We looked at the usual suspects like Bobst and some of the rotary cutters on the market now, but they didn’t quite have the full package – and in a few cases the capability to even do a full B2 sheet – so the Promatrix won the day.”

With the order signed, putting it the machine into the factory went smoothly, he says. “The installation was very quick and professional by the Heidelberg guys over the Christmas period last year, and was up and running during the first full week of 2016. It did take a fair bit of manoeuvring to get it in and in position as it is a big old thing.”

“We can run anything from a few hundred to a few millions, in the case of key card holders,” says Knowles. “It turns a nightmare 50-hour cylinder job into a six hour breeze and the operators have learned to love it.”

This class of machine is usually associated more with carton work than commercial print. Knowles says this may be important in future: “The packaging market does hold a fair amount of interest for us as a business and this machine will offer a firm foothold into making it viable. We do a limited amount of packaging at the moment but it is definitely something we would look to expand in the future and the Promatrix certainly gives us the capability to do just that.”

Cutting and creasing dies are now bought in from an outside specialist, he says. “We have to buy them in as they are pretty complex things which are quite a bit more involved than the old cylinder ones.” The old cylinder machine is still running too, but is gradually being phased out. “We do certainly still have it and it still runs a few hours a day but it’s becoming less and less frequent,” Knowles says.

Pros and cons? “The best thing is the speed, and it’s incredibly quiet considering what it does."

“Worst thing? Not really a bad thing but it does take up some space. A foiling capability would have been fantastic but I suppose you can’t have everything.” He adds “the makereadies are not quite a spritely as the Heidelberg demos would have you believe, but they are still a lot quicker than previously.”

There haven’t been any servicing issues either: “It’s been pretty good – touch wood – with nothing significant that required me to wade in, but as always with the Heidelberg service team they always offer a first-class service.”

So, would he order it again, or recommend it to others? “Absolutely, it’s a great bit of kit.”

Read the full article on PrintWeek’s website.

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