12 January 2019 Print Companies

HP Indigo W6900 heads to Bristol Labels

Bristol Labels has installed a top of the range Indigo, a big boost to its digital print capability.

Bristol Labels has invested in an HP Indigo W6900 to boost capacity for printing labels digitally. The company also runs a Nilpeter flexo press and had been using an Epson SurePress 4033WA to meet digital print needs.

This is being replaced by the high specification Indigo and will deliver a huge boost to productivity. “At the time we bought the Epson, that was the right decision,” says managing director Ben Stokes. “It is an entry level machine and it was our first digital press. It enabled us to open the door into the world of digital printing, but we quickly felt the pressure of trying to get the work out because of the speed of the machine.”

The Epson uses water based inks and while delivering high quality, is restricted in output. “What used to take us a month to print, we can now print in a week,” he says. Stokes took over as managing director of the business in November as his father and company founder Paul Stokes retired from the business.

The company has revamped its corporate identity and redesigned its website as part of the investment. Its social media presence has been expanded and the business has become a sponsor of the Taste of the West promotional event for food businesses in the south west. This is a growing source of business, says Stokes.

“We want to be known as the company specialising food and drink labels for producers in the south west,” he explains. “There are other label companies around but I don’t think anyone has focused like this on the sector. And Bristol is a great location to operate from.”

It has been unable to compete with companies that have faster digital presses because of the lower rates they can charge. The installation of the Indigo will change that. And as the W6900 also has HP's silver option, Bristol Labels will be in a stronger position.

The choice of this machine was not automatic. “I did all my homework carefully. What we wanted to be able to do was take work from the Epson to the new press. Epson did suggest their UV inkjet press which runs at 50m/min. But like other UV inkjet machines, the image is slightly raised, so there is a different feel to the labels and I didn’t want to explain to customers why they were getting something different.

“The other option open to us was the Xeikon, which was fast enough, but didn’t fit our business. The machine that fitted our business best was the Indigo.”

The company will continue with its GM finishing line, which Stokes says should cope as loadings on the new press build up. “It may mean running the finishing line for 16 hours a day while the press is operating for eight hours a day. And if it really takes off, it may mean further investment.”

The company expects the Indigo to accommodate all work taken from the Epson together with work migrating from the flexo press. It will also attract additional work from new and existing customers he says. Bristol has been taking this on and managing production. That will no longer be necessary. “If we want to expand in future we had to do this investment to be able to compete with larger companies and to put our name out there.”

Gareth Ward

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