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Kodak makes moves to meet demand for Sonora plates

Rochester Business Journal
March 3, 2014

Eastman Kodak Co. on Monday said it is making investments and moving to a new regional manufacturing strategy to boost capacity to meet demand for its Sonora process-free printing plates.

The moves are aimed at making worldwide plate production more efficient, and enabling better customer service across its digital plate portfolio, the company said.

The Sonora plates are made in Europe for distribution globally. Kodak plans to increase that capacity, and begin manufacturing the plates in Asia and the Americas, as well.

In Europe, Kodak has invested in its Osterode, Germany, plant where an upgraded, highâ€Âspeed line increases capacity. The plant began shipping Sonora plates to customers in November, and volume shipped from the site is increasing every month, the company said.

In Asia, Kodak has upgraded its Xiamen, China, plant to produce the plates. The line there also is capable of highâ€Âspeed production.

Kodak is selecting a site for the Americas. The Rochester region is not under consideration for the new site, Kodak spokesman Christopher Veronda said.

“This is our strategy to win and best serve customers in the printing plate market,” said Brad Kruchten, president of graphics, entertainment and commercial films. “The technology strength of our (Sonora plates), combined with our plan to increase production capacity and locate our manufacturing closer to customers, will enable us to serve the many customers who are embracing this product.”

More than 450 customers use Sonora plates, the company said, with many more waiting to switch to the product.

As part of its global manufacturing plan, Kodak will phase out production at its Leeds, U.K., plant, beginning in the third quarter and completing it in midâ€Â to lateâ€Â2015. Some 200 manufacturing employees will be affected in Leeds, along with another 25 in support positions whose positions will be subject to further review, Veronda said.

“Our employees in Leeds have a long history of capably serving our customers with the quality products they have come to expect from Kodak,” said Robert Price, general manager of worldwide plate operations. “However, with the investments we made last year in the new highâ€Âspeed manufacturing line, the capacity of our Osterode plant can now meet future demand growth from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”

As a result, Kodak expects to incur total charges of $30 million to $40 million, including $20 million to $25 million noncash related to accelerated depreciation and asset writeoffs.

(c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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