19 July 2020 Print Companies

Lightning Source makes global spend

The leader in print on demand book production is investing to ensure that it stays ahead and meets rising demand in the pandemic age.

Lightning Source has started an upgrade programme involving facilities around the globe, including at Milton Keynes in the UK.

The company switched to HP PageWide T240 inkjet presses three years ago and is now expanding on this same platform says owner Ingram Content Group. “Lightning Source is again making a significant investment to heighten support for the publishing industry given recent shifts in the market and supply chain,” the company says.

This involves investment of “millions of dollars to increase capacity at its two US sites, which gain print, binding and sortation equipment amounting to a double digit increase in capacity.

The UK site will also enjoy a double digit increase in capacity with upgrades to print, finishing and other equipment. It will also benefit from Ingram’s investment in a news warehouse operation.

The company bought NBNi, an international book distributor in 2017 and has moved this from Plymouth to a site in Milton Keynes, only a couple of miles from the digital print operation. “Print on demand inventory demands can now be coordinated and combined with physical book shipping at speeds required by our supply chain and channel partners,” says a spokesman.

While Lightning Source has standardised on HP PageWide T series presses for body sections and HP Indigo for covers and colour sections, its finishing technology is more diverse, reflecting the requirements of publishing sectors and formats, explaining that the specifications for finishing is considered proprietary information.

In Australia the company is building a greenfield operation covering 5,000m2 and doubling the size of its existing operation in Melbourne. “Ingram's virtual inventory and print on demand distribution services in Australia has become very attractive to overseas publishers. The current fragility of traditional supply chains and increases in export freight costs have made integrated, local, manufacturing solutions more attractive,” the company says.

The fragility of extended supply chains has been exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The investments will allow Lightning Source to tap into this sentiment as well as changes in consumer demands and environmental imperatives, says the spokesman.

These “are increasing publishers’ needs for print on demand solutions closer to the point of need. In many ways print on demand is turning out to be a ‘hero’ of the pandemic, enabling quick shifts, rapid response to consumer demand and more”.

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Lightning Source is increasing its ability to service publishers looking for print on demand, a trend that is accelerating as a direct consequence of the global pandemic as publishers seek shorter and more secure supply arrangements.

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