Blue Star opens Franklin Web NSW site

Blue Star Group, a division of IVE, has officially opened its sprawling $50 million high-tech printing operation in Sydney’s west further cementing its capacity to deliver large run catalogues and magazines in Australia.

The Franklin Web NSW large format offset facility at Huntingwood has been fitted out with two new Manroland 80 page Lithoman presses that sit side by side producing 600,000 catalogues an hour 24 hours a day, seven days a week using four tonnes of ink every day.

The catalogues are sent rapid fire through the presses and down the line where they are cut, bound and packaged ready for collection and distribution for clients.

Around 10 seconds is all it takes for one catalogue to go from being blank paper on a mammoth 22km long roll to a printed, cut, bound and stacked product with specialised camera software detecting page discrepancies and other specialised systems identifying bottlenecks.

Robotic arms are also used to hoist the finished product reducing the number of staff needed to run the operation at any one time to just 34.

Franklin Web NSW is the third jewel in Blue Star’s crown with the other Sydney site at Silverwater servicing clients requiring a smaller and more specialised print run, while Melbourne’s Franklin Web facility at Sunshine is its other large capacity site.

All pre-press is centralised at Sunshine meaning it is virtually ‘lights-out’ at Huntingwood, while Blue Star Web at Silverwater handles all magazine production. Blue Star Web’s technology has also been mirrored so there is nothing to stop the plates getting to the Huntingwood press on time if need be.

But at Huntingwood it is all about catalogues and long-run magazines.

IVE executive chairman Geoff Selig says catalogue volumes over the last 12 months had risen by 2.5 per cent.

“This is the most significant investment in this industry,” Selig told a large gathering for the official opening of the site on Tuesday.

“I have seen a lot of printing companies around the world and this is a world class facility.”


Real Media Collective CEO Kellie Northwood says in a world of disruption letterbox marketing continues to be a stable channel with distribution up 2.5 per cent reaching 20.3 million Australians.

Northwood says, “Consumers report they enjoy reading catalogues and see them as a ‘time out’ from screens and intrusive medias. Catalogues are viewed as ‘useful’ and looked to for price comparison and brand research. This reliance highlights print media is more trusted than any other channel, the physicality of print delivers ‘proof’. The growing trend is that the letterbox is shifting its purpose, moving from a transactional portal to a place where new shoes, sneakers and even hardware items arrive.”

IVE Group managing director Warwick Hay says the new facilities enable the company to meet this growing demand.

“The new Huntingwood plant’s capacity, when combined with Franklin Web’s site in Melbourne, gives us the production flexibility to meet customer demands across the nation”.

Improving the speed to letterbox, particularly to the northern states, was a key driver in the expansion, IVE’s chief operating officer Matt Aitken said.

“Franklin Web offers unparalleled production capacity to service the printing needs of our customers,” Aitken told ProPrint.

“Speed to the letterbox is what it is really all about.

“By us investing in this facility we are streamlining our operations and ultimately providing a great service to the national retailers.”

Recycling is also a serious concern with Blue Star shipping one truck a day of bailed up off cuts to Albury based papermill Norske Skog to be recycled into newsprint.


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