Mailing and Marketing Solutions is on course to be the UK’s largest supplier of paper wrapping lines. It has a further four machines on order to join the three CMC lines installed earlier this year.
The new lines will work with paper reels printed on what will be the UK’s first Ricoh Pro VC70000 inkjet press. This is its litho substitute machine able to print without primer on coated as well as uncoated paper, aided by a new style of dryer.
This will be delivered to MAMS' new factory in Leeds in the middle of next week, to be followed by three months of bedding in, training and testing, to ensure that the press will deliver the quality required by customers and that it will be trouble free in operation.
The decision to go down this route was not taken lightly, says managing director Mario Krajniewski. “We looked at alternatives to outsourcing because that was becoming too expensive for the low runs needed for subscription mailers and we needed to be able to cope with the work that customers asked us to deliver.
“We had been working with Ricoh on mono printing and that partnership has worked very well, so we knew they would be able to support us and offer the hand holding we’ll need.
“As none of us has a crystal ball, we have to look to the past, to project into the future and rely on customer feedback to guide us. We needed something that would give us the quality and the best return. The samples looked very good and, while there are some restrictions on the papers we can use, we will be working to profile and understand how to get the quality. I think these machines will take over from the big litho presses.
“Customers want quality and shorter runs and they don’t want polywrap. We have therefore had to change our way of working and come up with alternatives.
“We had a lot of polywrap lines which had been fully depreciated and it was time for us to reinvest. Customers have changed their vision and their attitudes, so we could afford to invest to meet these changes.”
The company installed its own six-colour B1 XL106 Speedmaster in 2018, a move taken, says Krajniewski, to ensure continuity of supply at a time when a number of high profile printers, Anton included, were closing down. “It has worked reasonably well for us,” he says. Since then MAMS has installed a Xerox Iridesse and the paper wrap lines.
The Ricoh will run reel to reel with unwind and rewind stands from Hunkeler, supplied by Friedheim. The company points to the vulnerability of an integrated line compared to off line finishing. “If the finishing breaks down, the printing stops,” he says. “We have run all forms of continuous feed and flat sheet printing, and there is always a risk if the machine breaks down.”
The technology, he says is moving fast, and will be depreciated over five to seven years rather than the more traditional 10-15 years. The Ricoh will be taking on its existing workload as well as printing paper wrap for subscription magazines. “We have met the people from Ricoh and we reckon we will have a number of opportunities we can explore,” he says.
By Gareth Ward
The Ricoh Pro VC70000 continuous feed inkjet press was shown for the first time at Hunkeler Innovation Days this year. It features a new design of dryer to enable a wider selection of coated and uncoated papers to be printed to litho equivalent quality.