Ovato shows expanded Warwick Farm 'supersite' to customers and industry

Managing director and chief executive Kevin Slaven
Outside the Warwick Farm facility
Member of the NSW legislative council Scott Farlow
Ton-up on one of the manroland Goss presses
The highly-automated Ferag drum inserting system
High-speed heatset capacity is Ovato's strength
Apprentice Philippe Vu had a special mention during the open day
Craig Dunsford leads the factory tour
Palletising robots operate behind a fence for safety
Much to see, much to ask on the tour
From press to finishing at the Warwick Farm facility
The Ovato facility handles distribution as well as print
Bundles are palletised automatically using robots

Having consolidated first to bring IPMG's NSW sites together, and again to allow the closure of PMP Moorebank, Ovato had something to show guests at Warwick Farm yesterday.

The heatset print site - claimed to be Australia's largest - has capacity to print 18 million pages an hour, a decent chunk of that coming from a further 80-page Lithoman and postpress equipment just installed at a cost of $20 million.

The open day marked not only the completion - for the time being - of the two consolidation projects, but also a circle turning for the Hannan family, with the return of Michael Hannan as chairman of the expanded company.

That scale is evident on its website, where Ovato lists five locations in NSW - at least for the moment - six in two other states and New Zealand, and operations in London, Singapore and Chennai.

Warwick Farm itself has been a work-in-progress for some time - having started out as a concept to switch Australian magazine production to gravure - and now extends over seven-and-a-half hectares (35,000 m2 under roof), with $5 million of spare parts on site to support heatset presses ranging from 16-96 pages, sophisticated postpress and a variety of other equipment. The site uses 10,000 printing plates a month as well as 8000 tonnes of paper, storing 23,500 tonnes on site.

A far cry from the then state-of-the art Hannanprint Sydney I visited in the 1980s with its pioneering robot-driven reel trucks at one hand and an ageing Goss Community with three-colour satellite on the other, a reminder of where the business had come from.

Indeed the value of that real estate in Sydney's Alexandria - the British Oxygen depot (now BOC) sold for $343 million in 2013 - helped underwrite the move, just as property and canny management have progressed the Hannan family from early days with a Randwick butchery.

At yesterday's opening, managing director and chief executive Kevin Slaven (pictured) reminded guests that manufacturing is still the foundation on which investments in data analytics for its print and distribution customers are based.

"Print is still one of the most reliable and cost-effective ways of advertising for retailers," he said, "with a staggering nine out of ten Australians enjoy reading, and 82 per cent trusting print advertisements when making purchasing decisions."

He cited a current Roy Morgan catalogue finding - that people dedicate six minutes of attention to a catalogue compared to a second-and-a-half to an Instagram placement - and reported a "resurgence" in niche magazine consumption.

An increase in print runs from magazine publishing customers "points to continued interest and pursuit of reading printed material over digital media".

The investment was also welcomed by NSW finance and small business minister Damien Tudehope, who described the western Sydney location as "the powerhouse of the NSW economy".

The 24-hours-a-day Ovato 'supersite' employs more than 450 people, among them apprentices Philip Vu and Yousif Hurmiz Zia, who received a special mention from the minister.

Peter Coleman

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