Kodak is making manufacturing investments to increase capacity to meet rapidly growing demand for its process-free printing plates, while also making worldwide plate production more efficient, and enabling better customer service across its digital plate portfolio. ‘This is our strategy to win and best serve customers in the printing plate market,’ noted Brad Kruchten, President, Graphics, Entertainment & Commercial Films. ‘The technology strength of our Kodak Sonora Process Free 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.’ Kodak Sonora Process Free Plates offer a combination of advantages. This technology platform is a breakthrough because it removes the processing step completely, without sacrificing quality or productivity. So in addition to the environmental and economic benefits of going process free with Sonora Plates, printers also receive the quality, productivity and print capability of mainstream processed plates. More than 450 customers currently use Sonora Plates, and many more are waiting to switch to the product. Today, Kodak Sonora Process Free Plates are manufactured in Europe for distribution to customers around the world. Kodak plans to increase that capacity, as well as begin manufacturing Sonora Plates at sites in Asia and the Americas. In Europe, Kodak has invested in its Osterode, Germany, plant where an upgraded, high-speed Sonora Plate manufacturing line increases capacity for sales growth. The Osterode plant began shipping Sonora Plates to customers in November 2013, and volume shipped from this site is increasing every month. In Asia, Kodak has completed an upgrade of its Xiamen, China, plant to produce Sonora Plates. As with Osterode, the line at Xiamen is capable of high-speed production. This provides increased capacity to meet demand for Sonora Plates, and improves efficiency across the entire plate portfolio. Kodak is also selecting a site to better serve customers in the Americas. As part of its strategic, global manufacturing plan, Kodak will phase out production at its Leeds, U.K., plant, beginning that process in the third quarter of 2014 and completing it in mid- to late-2015. ‘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 high-speed manufacturing line, the capacity of our Osterode plant can now meet future demand growth from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.’ Price noted that employees at the Leeds plant will be offered separation benefits and transition services. As a result of the action, Kodak expects to incur total charges of $30-40 million, $20-25 million of which would be non-cash related to accelerated depreciation and asset write-offs.
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