Friesens Corporation is North America’s premier book, yearbook and packaging manufacturer serving publishers, institutions, schools and businesses from their two major facilities in Altona, Manitoba.
The most recent addition to the impressive equipment line-up at Friesens is a Speedmaster XL 75-5+L –equipped with the latest “Push to Stop” technology from Heidelberg, including: “Inpress Control 2” automatic color and register measurement, “Auto Plate Pro” fully automated plate loading, and automated wash programs. This technology is now driven by Intellistart 2 press software, activated through the Press Center XL with Wallscreen. With this technology, the press is capable of processing jobs “autonomously,” while the operator oversees print manufacturing.
The Speedmaster XL 75 is the first mid-size press in Friesans’ plant that is dominated by VLF equipment, and replaced a Speedmaster CD 102. Speaking with Andrew Fennell, and Byron Loeppky, GM, I asked about the reasoning for “downsizing” to this format. “This press will be predominantly used for book covers,” states Byron, “and when we analyzed the business, 80% of the forms will fit the 23 X 29 format. With the other 20%, we can simply run a few more sheets to make up for the smaller layout. It is a short run market.”
“We may have ‘downsized’ the format,” adds Andrew, “but we have ‘upsized’ the technology. The plan was to drive automation into our process. This press can make job changes in 50% less time than our older press – all with one operator. The technology is like having a second man. We are putting more sheets on the floor each day. All the targets are being met or exceeded, and we are still in a learning curve. The potential of this press is amazing.”
Add to that the savings in consumables and each job is more profitable.
Employing approximately 600 people over 250,000 square feet, Friesens has been a pillar in the community for 110 years. It credits the closeness of community and the people to its long term success. “Even though we are a big company, being private allows us to be nimble and react to changing market conditions,” says Byron. “For example, international hiring is something we have had to do, and it is the strength and warmth of this community that allows these people to thrive in a new environment.
Business is good at Friesens, and sales are up. When you learn about the value system engrained into Friesens, it is easy to understand why.
Ray Fagan Sales Specialist, Sheetfed, Postpress Packaging, Digital, Product Management