Friesens Corporation is North America’s premier book, yearbook and packaging manufacturer serving publishers, institutions, schools and businesses from its two major facilities in Altona, Manitoba. The most recent addition to its impressive equipment line-up is a Speedmaster XL 75-5+L Print and Coating Machine. It’s equipped with the latest Push to Stop technology from Heidelberg that includes Inpress Control 2 automatic colour 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 simply oversees the printing process. This Speedmaster XL 75 is the first mid-size press in a plant that’s dominated by VLF equipment, and replaced a Heidelberg CD 102. Speaking with Director of Procurement and Administration Andrew Fennell, and GM Byron Loeppky, we asked about the reasoning for ‘downsizing’ to this format. “This press will be predominantly used for book covers,” said Loeppky, “and when we analyzed the business, 80% of the forms would fit the 23” x 29” format. As far as the other 20% we can simply run a few more sheets to make up for the smaller layout. It’s a short-run market.”
“We may have ‘downsized’ the format,” Fennell added, “but we’ve ‘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, and do it with one operator! The technology is like having a second man. We’re putting more sheets on the floor each day. All our targets are being met or exceeded, and we’re still in a learning curve. The potential of this press is amazing. Add to that the savings in consumables, and each job becomes more profitable.”
Employing approximately 600 people and covering 250,000 square feet, Friesens has been a pillar in its community for over 110 years. And it credits the closeness of community and the people with its long-term success. “Even though we’re a big company, being private allows us to be nimble and react to changing market conditions,” Loeppky added. “For example, international hiring is something we’ve had to do, and it’s 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 values’ system ingrained into Friesens, it’s easy to understand why,” said Sheetfed, Postpress Packaging & Digital Sales Specialist Ray Fagan of Heidelberg Canada Graphic Equipment Limited.