Latcham Direct has added a second Duplo iSaddle Pro, capping a year of investment comprising of a Canon Varioprint i300 and ImagePress C850 as well as the booklet maker, amounting to £1.4 million spent across the business.
“Capacity has been growing and we have added a lot more document fulfilment services which are more and more personalised,” says managing director Mike Hughes. This includes booklets for insurance policies where the customer will receive only pages relevant to their policy, or where a customer has multiple policies, a buy to let landlord for example. These can be presented in a single booklet. Membership organisations are another growing sector where different grades of membership can require different pages of explanation.
Says Hughes: “Our current iSaddle is used to produce very high quality, highly personalised booklets for different customers - we’ve seen an increase in demand for this exact product. The growth of our personalised membership and policy booklet jobs was the reason why we chose another iSaddle PRO and it meets this requirement perfectly.
“It’s a robust and a really high quality booklet maker packed with automation – the inline barcode scanning is a major selling point for us as it can read every single page, sort and collate variable pages in books and verify on the fly. The bespoke booklets for memberships, policies and contracts sometimes need a lot of personalisation, some with variable pagination and the iSaddle handles everything excellently with its PC control unit.”
The second machine provides a level of reassurance for these customers and removes the risk of being unable to complete a job on time. “We need to make sure there is no single point of failure within the business,” he adds.
The investment in the first iSaddle was a stride forward for the business into heavy duty production focused finishing machinery, after having used lighter finishing lines before this. And the bar code led automation is key. Many of the products will be self cover, though there is a facility to add separate covers if required. And the line will run all day long, if required, Hughes adds.
The second machine is a further upgrade with features that were not available on the first machine. A camera reads every sheet, guaranteeing the integrity of every booklet produced “and allowing us to do more personalised and targeted communications in full colour”.
As well as the Canon sheetfed machines, Latcham Direct has a Ricoh IP5000 continuous feed inkjet press. And in recent weeks it has acquired a small digital print business serving the commercial print sector. This will expand thanks to the capabilities of the presses which can meet requirements from customers. “As the equipment we have can also service that market, it made sense to invest in a smaller business,” he says.
“Next year we are looking at quite a big growth plan to double the size of the business over the next four years, with business coming from financial services, membership organisations, utilities and local authorities and into the health sector,” he explains. “Delivering highly personalised customer communication is working for us, which makes us pretty bullish about the future.”
What the investment will be Latcham is not saying yet, though additional finishing as well as printing equipment will be necessary. And it is investing equally in people “to gear up for the growth. We are ambitious and confident for the future”.
By Gareth Ward