It is an executive committee. The Chairman is correct.
The management board received a business case on 6 November. As I said, two main reasons were advanced for the purchase of the Komori printing press. First was the age of the existing equipment.
In 2017, the equipment we had on hand at that stage was 12 years old. The equipment was purchased in 2004 and I believe it went into operation in 2005, so we were looking at equipment that was fully depreciated. It was also proving increasingly unreliable so in terms of the maintenance costs we would incur on equipment of that age, we were spending probably about €45,000 per year on maintenance. In addition to that, we were incurring about €20,000 in spare parts when repairs were needed. I am advised by the print manager that it was not an infrequent occurrence to have a mechanic out repairing the two printing presses.
If we look at it purely in cost terms over five years and ask if the argument for buying a printing press stacks up, we note the cost of maintenance and repairs comes in at around €65,000 a year. If we multiply that by five, we are at €325,000. In addition, we were faced with a decision that if we were to continue with the Heidelberg printing presses, we would have to do a major overhaul of them because of their age. That was expected to cost €170,000. In very round terms, therefore, the cost of retaining the Heidelberg printing press over five years was somewhere of the order of €500,000. When we look at that in the context of the purchase of a new machine, and the new Komori printing press came in at €848,000, we can see the financial sense in terms of moving from the old Heidelberg to the new machine.
The second point to note is the volume of the printing. We have a significant printing operation. Last year, the Oireachtas produced, and I have produced the statistics in the report, of the order of 16 million print impressions. The year before that it was 21 million. If we go back to 2015, we produced 26 million print impressions, so the Oireachtas printing unit is quite a sizeable operation. In the circumstances, we need good, robust, versatile, well-built equipment. That was the reason we went out to tender.
In addition to the printing press, we needed a number of other items of printing equipment. We produced a tender and split it into five lots. The reason we split it into five lots was to maximise competition, and particularly to enable small and medium sized enterprises to compete for the business. That is something we like to do as a matter of policy in the Houses of the Oireachtas Service. The tender was published on 5 March 2018. The records we have obtained show that 12 companies downloaded the tender documentation from eTenders so there was a fair degree of interest, naturally enough, in the contract. That is not surprising, given the expected value.
The site visits during the tender period, which would be a normal activity during tendering, took place on 21 March. At that stage, people could go and look at the print unit. On foot of those site visits, clarifications were received on 29 March. All of those clarifications were answered and the results circulated to all of the parties concerned. The closing date for the tender was 5 April 2018.
In terms of what the request for tenders document sought in respect of the printer, the precise wording was that the tender must be able to fit into a room 12 m by 5.8 m by 2.5 m. The most important measurement is the last one, the 2.5 m, which would have been the ceiling height of the printing unit. We also stipulated that there needed to be an acceptable work area around the press.
When the tenders were subsequently received we only got one tender in, despite the initial level of interest, for the printing press. That came from Komori. In the tender response document, which I reviewed as part of the preparation of the report, Komori ticked the box saying that it met the minimum specification in that the printing press could fit into the room with those dimensions, with an acceptable work area around it. Underneath the box with the minimum specifications a note was included. The words of that note are important. They state that the headroom from the press foot boards to the ceiling is limited.
During the tender period, one of the clarifications received was from Komori. Komori asked the print facility if there was a false ceiling and, if so, if there was a height greater than 2.5 m available. The response they got back from the print facility was that there was a false ceiling and that there was an extra 35 cm available. That increased the available height from 2.5 m to 2.85 m.
To give the members a sense of the Komori printing press, it is a big machine. It is 7.4 m long, 3.2 m wide and 1.98 m in height. I spoke to somebody in the print industry recently about it and asked him how he would describe this type of machine. This would be a very experienced person in the industry. He said it was a very versatile machine. It is the type of machine one would buy if one is doing short runs, long runs and if one has many different types of print requirement, which is exactly the position we are in. He also said it was a well-built machine. He said that the company he runs has a number of different makes of printing press and that the Komori is the best of the ones he has; that is his personal view. The third comment he made was that it is economical in terms of the purchase price of the press and that it was an economical press to run. The evidence I have received is that it is a good, solid printing press.
The other point to remember about printing is that most commercial printing is a 24-7 type of operation. A printing press like this one gives us greater capacity in that area. At the moment, we run two shifts in the print unit but, going forward, there are other options as well.
Following the submission of the tenders, the evaluation team looked at them. I have listed the members of the evaluation team in an appendix. Would the Chairman like me to read it out for the record?