Roularta Printing, indispensable link in production chain of renowned news magazine The Economist

The weekly edition of The Economist has been printed at Roularta Printing since January 2016. The renowned news magazine is a publication of the London-based The Economist Group and is printed simultaneously in no fewer than eight different printing plants worldwide. Roularta Printing is responsible for the weekly production for part of the European market.

A meticulously timed production process

Some six years ago, The Economist came across Roularta Printing via prospecting. Today, the Roeselare-based printing company is firmly embedded in The Economist’s tight production chain. Dieter Vantornout, responsible for planning and order management, outlines the meticulously timed process. “Thursday morning at 9:15 am sharp, we receive the first page. The last page follows no later than 12:30 pm. We immediately start imposition and plate exposure so that by 1:30 pm the printing plates are ready and can go to press. The first pages roll off the press at 2:15 pm and 10 minutes later the first print run with the first 5,000 copies is ready. At 2:30 pm we start the collating machine so that at 3 pm sharp the first finished copies roll off the belt. Packaging starts at 3:30 pm and at 4 pm we have the first packaged copies.” Right on time for the first of a total of seven production cycles.

“We see them once a year to discuss any problems. But there are actually none.” – Bart Declercq, sales director at Roularta Printing.

Recognition as a Known Consignor saves considerable time

Not all copies of The Economist are transported by road. For some countries, distribution is air freighted.Roularta Printing is recognised as a Known Consignor for air shipment of printed matter,” emphasises Bart Declercq, sales director at Roularta Printing. “All customs formalities are handled in a secure area by employees specially trained and also certified to do so. We ensure that all pallets are cargo-safe so that they can be loaded immediately on arrival at the airport. Being recognised as a Known Cosignor means we can work very efficiently and save customers considerable time.”

Rigorous monitoring and continuous assessment

The Economist’s production schedule is extremely punctual and is also closely monitored by the client. “The client monitors production hour by hour to check if there are any delays. The various printing companies are also compared to each other and continuously assessed for respecting the timing and quality of production. With some pride, we can report that Roularta Printing scores ‘high’ to ‘very high’ on both timing and quality. And what if something goes wrong? That can happen. We have had a machine failure before. However, we have all the machines in duplicate or triplicate. We can immediately move production to another machine to still get the production done in time.” Communication with the customer is also extremely smooth. “We see them once a year to discuss any problems. But there are actually none. Actually, that is more of a courtesy visit,” says Bart Declercq.

Ecology and sustainability highly valued

Besides consistently good timing and quality scores, the publisher of The Economist attaches great importance to ecology and sustainability. Roularta Printing has a proven track record in the field of sustainable enterprise and continuously strives for more energy-efficient production. “In terms of ecology and sustainability, the publisher finds in Roularta Printing a valued partner. When we installed our new, energy-efficient drying ovens, we got the OK to adjustment  the planning. When it comes to ecological reasons, that is possible,” concludes Bart Declercq.

Roularta Printing is responsible for the weekly production for part of the European market.

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