Clays is keeping a weather-eye on developments in colour inkjet printing, having just completed implementation of the first Ricoh Digital Book Printing Solution in Europe. This comprises the TotalFlow BatchBuilder workflow, optimised for book production, linked to two of Ricoh’s new Pro 8200 mono presses.
These have replaced Kodak Digimaster presses at the Bungay factory. “They were eight years old, have served us very well, but now time to renew,” says managing director Paul Hulley. The company’s internally created workflow had also served well for the growing print on demand side of the book printing business.
The project to replace the cut sheet digital presses also took in workflow options, with Hulley explaining: “We liked this as a complete solution, hardware and workflow together. We are pleased with the print quality as well as the workflow efficiencies.
“TotalFlow BatchBuilder automates the file batching and imposing four-up on SRA3 and it integrates with into the existing MIS to report back on single book production.”
The software also drive work to the existing inkjet presses, creating impositions for whichever press has been chosen through tight integration with Ultimate’s Impostrip application. Files are checked using Enfocus PitStop Pro and sorted according to common characteristics. This allows the software to batch jobs using the same production settings into a single file rather than loading jobs individually. The separate books remain traceable throughout, providing Clays with the production efficiencies.
“The workflow manages efficiency and the SLAs,” says Hulley. “Currently it is just for the POD operation. we haven’t yet decided what to do in terms of a wider workflow solution – our bespoke solutions are serving us well at the moment, but we will take another step with a proprietary solution at some stage.”
Likewise he says: “We are interested in inkjet colour solutions, but we see that as a separate project and we haven’t selected a preferred solution yet.” As this clicks into gear, Ricoh will be proposing its own VC60000 inkjet web press, alongside the Kodak Prosper and options from Canon and HP.
The investment comes at a busy time for the business. It has been enjoying strong demand for printed books and while Hulley is reluctant to draw conclusions, says: “We have had a good November with a distinct lift in volume compared to the same period last year. But the pattern every year is different, last November for example was particularly low.”