Precision Printing is spending more than £1 million on its bindery and more across the business as it moves an Indigo 7500 north to its Precision North plant in Sunderland to make way for a second HP Indigo 10000 in Barking where it has also made room for the expansion of bindery area.
This is now home to a case bound set up both for photobooks and for its Narrator line of marketing-led book products. This investment has centred on Mita equipment for automating production of case bound books while Horizon perfect binders and trimmers handle the creation of the book blocks. Three Imaging Solutions machines produce lay flat books. A finished goods storage area has been moved off site to accommodate this expansion
The equipment has been tested and staff trained ahead of the peak season for photo products towards the end of the year. Chief executive Gary Peeling says a further two or three customers will be added in the next couple of months. “We need the second 10000 to support the increased volumes that are coming through,” he says.
The growth is both from existing business and new business that is enabled by the investment in the finishing equipment. It has bought the MitaCase for fully automated case making, MitaBook for automated casing in, three Fastbook 10ICF layflat machines from Imaging Solutions, and Horizon BQ470 PUR binder and HT30C three knife trimmer.
“We have two focuses for the investment,” says Peeling. “One is to integrate with our Oneflow single product production for our photo clients, for on-demand and vanity publishing and for personalised children’s books which can either be cased in, softbound or layflat.
“The other focus is our Narrator project which is about the use of books as a marketing tool. We are seeing an increasing demand for using a well produced book as a tool for engagement and to achieve cut through so that brands can get their story out there on their own terms.
“Case bound and layflat books are increasingly popular for doing this in short runs, perhaps 50-100 copies as look-books, for special projects, to mark the completion of a building development and so on.”
The choice of equipment came from a need to automate as much as possible without going to the extent of a high production solution from the likes of Kolbus or Muller Martini. The other option was the semi automatic systems which Peeling explains involve a lot of manual intervention and so raises the risk of inconsistency and adds speed variables into the process. The Mita approach provides a fully automated case-making and casing in production flow which can switch from size to size and format to format easily “and gives us a predictable result”. Printed sections are bound using the equally versatile Horizon BQ470 PUR and trimmed on its automated three side trimmer.
The Narrator products have been designed to exploit this capability. Peeling explains that the idea is to present to an inexperienced twenty-something marketing manager (Precision thinks of her as ‘Jane’) a simple way to select and order a book within a set budget. There is a menu of formats, paginations and papers that suit Precision's production processes and which take just a few minutes to price up rather than the hours or days that might have been necessary without an intelligent guided choice.
“We are working within a range of standard products, it is productisation rather than commoditisation,” he says. “It is easy to understand the cost per book, the cost per page. It’s creating what we feel is the best solution.”
The concept is designed to take away the unknowns in ordering print and to help a generation that is adept at setting up a MailChimp email campaign, but does not understand what a 300gsm board might be like. “It’s about making print easier to use for our customers who do not understand how to produce a print specification,” he adds. It does not mean forcing customers to choose only A sized products.
Peeling likens it to purchasing a suit. In the 1950s, a man would go to Burtons, be measured and select a cloth, leading to a bespoke suit which might last many years. Then the tailor realised that most men fell within a group of standard sizes and would prefer to chose from a predetrimined range of styles and designs from the off the peg choice. “It became easy for men to buy a suit, so they bought more,” he says.
The extra format of the HP Indigo 10000 allows Precision to create non standard sizes which can become the more economical choice as content can fit in fewer pages, as well as being able to create the desired cut through from being a non standard format.
The company has taken the same approach with Enticer for direct mail, selecting a range of papers and formats that are proven to work to help ‘Jane’ create a direct marketing campaign as easily as an email campaign.
It is an approach which draws on the experience of web to print which Peeling believes is popular because it takes away the need for an awkward conversation between the inexperienced buyer and expert printer, and also on its experience of printing for Artisan Books. Francis Atterbury’s project for artist’s books offers a limited range of formats in exchange for a more cost effective approach. That remains a much higher value proposition with sewn sections and hand binding, Peeling points out.
The move of an Indigo 7500 to Precision North is part of an expansion of what is the company’s large format operation. This has acquired an adjoining unit to double the space it has available and has bought an HP Latex 3000 roll to roll printer. It has also installed a specialised wallpaper cutter to support business from the recently launched yourwalls.com website. A Durst P10 flatbed printer can produce direct to substrate work for rigid materials for point of sale projects.
These will also handle work generated by its Wherethetradebuys.co.uk website. This is currently undergoing a deep redesign despite having won the B2B e-commerce category in the Big Chip Awards.
Precision Printing has invested in case making, casing in equipment, lay flat machinery and PUR binder to be able to deliver perfect bound and hard cover books for photo customers and to marketers who wish to create a cut through message using a hard cover book.