Guiton Group, the publisher of the Jersey Evening Post, teamed up with Kodak last year to set up the pioneering venture, which is currently 80% owned by Kodak.
KP Services (Jersey) is equipped with two 300m/min Kodak Prosper 6000P high-speed inkjet presses and four Hunkeler newspaper finishing lines.
The site has now gone live. As of Friday (13 May) it had been printing the JEP for nine days, and national titles for distribution on Jersey and Guernsey for three days.
Previously, foggy weather such as that experienced last week would mean that newspapers air freighted to Jersey would arrive after the date of publication.
KP Services managing director Jack Knadjian said: “We are able to do something here that traditional presses cannot – print any number of papers in any volume. In my opinion it’s the beginning of a new era of printing newspapers with new technology.”
John Averty, Guiton Group and KP Services chairman, said the firm would “miss the rumbling” of its old newspaper press starting up, but cited the advantages to readers of the new set-up. “They can have colour on every page and no ink coming off on their fingers. We have started at a real pace and and let’s hope it goes from strength to strength,” he said.
“We are a minority investor at the moment but we are sure that will increase over time,” Averty added.
KP Services is printing on Palm Paper’s 48.8gsm Palm News 100% recycled grade, manufactured in King’s Lynn. The paper does not require special treatment because the Prosper presses lay down a primer.
Knadjian said the inks being used had been tuned to achieve the optimum result on newsprint.
Print runs vary from thousands to just 50 copies for specialty titles.
KP Services general manager Alan Palin said that overnight production is currently taking around 9-10 hours but he expects this to reduce to 7-8 hours.
He said he was pleased with the quality being achieved: “The black is a little bit lighter and the colour is a little bit flatter because of the ink, but in a couple of weeks no-one will know any difference.
“Everything that the nationals do we can do here, for example half Berliner,” he added.
Printed reels are taken to the near-line Hunkeler finishing lines, which are driven by data matrix barcodes printed on the newspapers containing information about the set-up for pagination, number of sections, and where to cut each title.
The Hunkeler lines can also produce glued products, but not stitched.
It is expected that phase two of the installation will involve KP Services producing other products on the equipment, such as flyers and brochures and possibly transactional print.
Franz Hunkeler (pictured, left, with Alan Palin) who retired as chairman of Hunkeler Group in February but remains on the board, also attended the event.
He presented KP Services with a commemorative Swiss cow bell and quipped: “I waited 15 years before we installed our first digital newspaper finishing line at Stroma in London. Then I said I wouldn’t retire until there was a factory like this. Now I’m saying I won’t retire until we have a factory like this on each continent!”
KP Services has also teamed up with new venture Iris Freight to ship daily newspapers to Guernsey in a specially designed waterproof transport pod.