Garamon becomes a reference printing house
The Garamon printing and publishing house has been operating in Hradec Králové since 1997. It is entering its 10th year in business as a successful medium-sized company with all the necessary technologies for the preparation, printing and finishing processes at its disposal. The newest piece of equipment, installed at the beginning of February 2006, is a KBA Performa 74-4 printing machine.
When Pavel Kubát, Garamon's owner and executive head, left his position as a director of a printing plant nine years ago, one of his incentives in starting his own printing house was the possibility of purchasing a Zirkon 66 web press at a bargain price. This two-colour, SRA2+ format rotary press is still in use at Garamon today. The company has gradually developed, recruited more employees and purchased more machines and equipment. Garamon presently employs 24 people, including 4 printers. In 2002, the printing house purchased its first four-colour Polly 474 offset machine. When the hire-purchase of the first four-colour machine was paid off, Garamon's owner started looking for a new printing machine. “I was satisfied with the printing machines from Dobruška, so the choice of supplier for the next four-colour machine was simple,” says Mr. Kubát.
Garamon deals with quite a wide range of publishing and printing jobs. It publishes and prints books, wall calendars and desk diaries. Its list of orders includes advertising leaflets, magazines, newspapers, brochures, annual reports, stocks and bonds, stationery, admission tickets and other polygraphic products. Garamon also processes graphic designs and provides full prepress preparation. Its main customers are advertising agencies from Prague and the Hradec Králové (East-Bohemia) Region. Garamon also frequently co-operates on printing contracted jobs for other printing houses. The printing house makes deliveries within the Czech Republic.
The new Performa 74-4 is now standing solidly in its place at the Garamon print shop in Hradec Králové.
The preparation of printing plates is done using an Agfa Palladio CtP system which was purchased by the company three years ago. This CtP system is part of the ApogeeX workflow solution. The Garamon printing house uses Agfa Lithostar Ultra V printing plates for the CtP process. The company uses about 1,000 printing plates per month. The proof press is produced on Agfa Sherpa 24m device which prints onto rolls 610 mm wide.
Besides the new KBA Performa 74-4 printing machine, Garamon also uses its Zirkon 66 rotary press for the 452x620 mm format. The web press has two reel stands and is used, for example, for printing 32 pages of SRA5 format 1/1 or 16 pages of SRA5 2/2. The list of printing machines would not be complete without the Zetaconte 701 for printing SRB1 format posters and Grafopress GPC used for grooving, die-cutting and perforation.
As for the completion process, the bindery produces V1 binding with both staples and stitches and Twin Wire calendar binding. In co-operation with other companies the printing house also provides V2, V4 and V8 binding. The printing house uses external partners for UV coating, laminating, die-cutting, blind finishing and other necessary operations in the completion and book-binding process.
Working with Grafitec
Pavel Kubát had worked with Grafitec even before establishing the Garamon printing house. The long-term experience of a printing house owner and operator proves that in competing with other producers and suppliers of printing machines, after-sales service plays a significant role. Over the years, the good reputation of KBA-Grafitec's customer service has become a strong selling point for the printing machines produced in Dobruška. The Drupa 2004 SRB2 format printing machines had moved Grafitec up among the leading manufactures of polygraphic machinery and attracted the interest of KBA in the Grafitec brand, resulting in last year’s incorporation of the Dobruška plant into the KBA Group. The manufacturer offers KBA Performa machines in two-, four-, five- and six-colour modifications including the option of in-line coating. The Garamon publishing house purchased the fully equipped version of the KBA Performa 74-4 including almost all of the optional extras.
KBA-Grafitec delivered the printing machine during the first days of February. The supplier took an older Polly 474 machine in part exchange. The installation of the new Performa 74-4, including the dismounting and removal of the old machine, took less then one week. Garamon's operations manager, Mr. František Lahučký, was pleasantly surprised by the rapid commissioning of the new machine. The supplier began the exchange of the old machine for the new one by dismounting and removing the old Polly 474 printing machine on the first Monday in February. On Friday of the same week, the new KBA Performa 74-4 was already running trial prints. The machine printed its first job one week after the installation started. Quick installation is aided by the way the machine is transported to the customer. The disassembled four-colour Performa 74-4 machine is transported in three parts – the feeder with the first printing unit, the middle two printing units, and the last unit with the delivery. Additional units are, of course, transported separately.
Mr. František Lahučký, the print shop's operations manager. He was pleasantly surprised by the rapid commissioning of the new machine.
The level of the printers' readiness also contributed to the speed of commissioning. The printers had had sufficient experience with a SRB2 format machine from Dobruška, so they only needed a brief training program at the manufacturing plant to get acquainted with the new machine. Further training took place during installation in the printing house.
At Garamon, printing machines are used in a two-shift operation. Third shifts or weekend shifts are added as necessary. The machine is operated in turn by two printers. Mr. Jiří Kotek had also worked with the Polly 474 machine, so he can compare the differences between the two SRB2 format machines. “The manufacturer has improved everything that was less user-friendly about the old machine, even minor details,” says Jiří Kotek. As an example, he mentioned the feeder air supply system, which the printers had found rather difficult to handle. The feeder head is also more reliable when feeding paper of lower basis weight. One important change improving ease of operation is the new surface finish of the transfer cylinders which makes their cleaning easier. The transfer cylinders are now also more accessible for the printer. The offset blanket and inking unit washers are more effective and produce better results. The new model is more economical in the use of cleaning agent and cleaning fabric. Depending on the degree of fouling, the operator chooses one of three washing cycles. The printer also appreciates the effectiveness in removing clots. “Working with this new machine, I am yet to find my first clot on a plate,” remarked Mr. Kotek.
Garamon's owner and executive head Pavel Kubát (centre) with his printers – Jiří Kotek (left) and Jan Šimeček (right)
In the printer's experience, significant improvements have been made in the machine’s controls, in the semi-automatic insertion of printing plates and in setting the diagonal register. Compared to the controls on the Polly 474 machine, the GrafiControl remote control system is more resistant to human error. “The automatic insertion is a time-saver,” adds Jiří Kotek. The KBA Performa 74 machines can print up to 13,000 sheets per hour. As for the printing speed on the four-colour machine at Garamon, the printers “hardly ever fall under nine thousand and don't push the machine to more than eleven”. Higher speeds are only used when printing very large numbers of copies.
The technical description of KBA Performa 74 printing machines states the range of permissible thickness of materials for printing as 0.05 to 0.6 mm. In the experience of the Garamon printers, the machine prints without problems on materials of basis weight between 60 and 350 grams per sq. meter. The printing machine accepts data in CIP3 format from the CtP system and uses it to pre-set the inking units. Even when changing the basis weight and format, preparing the machine for a new job requires less then 20 minutes. Six to eight orders can be processed during a single shift, depending, of course, on the complexity and volume of the specific orders. The average number of copies is around 2,000. The printer also appreciates the standard of user documentation. “The manual is written very clearly,” says Jiří Kotek. On the whole, the printer is “very satisfied” with the new machine.
Reference printing house and KBA Intern
The Garamon company did not previously have the status of a reference printing house; it only acquired it in connection with the KBA Performa 74-4 machine. This was not only because of the short distance between Hradec Králové and Dobruška, but mainly because of the staff's experience with the Polly and KBA Performa machines and the ability of the printers to share their knowledge with other potential customers. “We value the fact that we are a reference printing house; this is something KBA-Grafitec does not offer to everyone. The status of a reference printing house strengthens our company's image,” says Mr. Kubát. Garamon also prints KBA-Grafitec's company publications. Besides Czech and foreign-language leaflets, these now include the magazine KBA Intern for the staff of KBA Group businesses.
The printing house owner does not intend to expand his company very much. He considers 25 employees as the maximum limit. Garamon wants to continue proving itself as a perfectly reliable printing house which never delays delivery. At the same time, its quality of printing is considered as matter of fact. With the new KBA Performa 74-4 printing machine, the printing house can undertake even the most demanding printing jobs. The company would like to increase the share of certain printing products, namely calendars, in its structure of orders. Garamon is also a publishing house and has already been specializing in the publishing and printing of calendars. The company consults with leading graphic artists and photographers on its graphic designs. Garamon also publishes and prints commercial and company calendars.
The printing house's owner, Mr. Pavel Kubát (51), learned his trade in Pardubice and worked as a page setter in the East-Bohemia Printing Plant. After 1989 he co-founded the Progrestisk printing house, where he held the position of director until 1997. Mr. Kubát chooses his colleagues with care. “The staff make a well co-ordinated team. Besides visiting professional events such as the EmbaxPrint exhibition in Brno or Drupa, we sometimes also go out to the mountains together,” remarks the printing house owner. Pavel Kubát is a board member of the Association of Entrepreneurs in Graphic Arts. He characterises the situation in the Czech polygraphic market as “established”. In the hierarchy of the company's objectives, Garamon's owner and executive head Pavel Kubát gives top priority to satisfying their customers, suppliers and employees.
Mr. Pavel Kubát examining a page printed by the new Performa 74-4