This was largely a litho business and Rapidity had initially planned to invest in litho technology. Market conditions through the year have prompted a rethink. “We had been thinking about LED UV,” says managing director Paul Manning. “We then mentioned to HP that we would be thinking about the Indigo B2 press in the new year, when they mentioned that one had become available if we took it before the end of October. It was a very good deal.”
The press joins two Indigos installed in central London where space constraints prevented the B2 press being put in there. Instead it will be operational in Foot’s Cray for the start of the new year. “It also needs more power than we had available in central London,” Manning adds.
“A lot of our customers have asked for B2 digital and a lot of competition has already installed the B2 Indigo. People have come to expect it.”
There are thoughts about printing lightweight packaging and work to link it to the Tharstern MIS and workflow to be able to move work between the separate factories. The investment will give Rapidity a true disaster recovery facility that is increasingly important for customers looking to guarantee a fast turnaround.
The speed of turnaround demanded was one of the reasons why Manning's position on the next investment shifted. Jobs can come in, be printed and finished the same day. The litho work might need to sit overnight before printing the reverse side and to sit again before finishing. Customers having become used to instant response could not go back to a multi-day turnaround. “With litho we print then wait, fold and stitch it on the Muller; with digital it’s print and finish immediately on a booklet maker.”
There was consideration of B2 inkjet and again familiarity with the HP technology and business model won out. Manning explains: “It came back to the click model. We understand that. How could we work with a press where, because of changing coverage, one job might be 1p a sheet, the next 10p. We have to run a business and we know where we are with the Indigo.
“Even this year the litho market has become even more cut throat. It does not make investment in litho very appealing. And it remains very difficult to differentiate yourself when everyone has a B2 litho press competing for the same work.”
The factory retains a Heidelberg SM74 along with Muller Martini stitching, folding, cutting on a recently installed Polar, and die cutting Cylinder. He adds: “Overall we see that print volumes are declining and will continue to decline. If we were to invest for the future it would have to be something that addresses the part of the market we serve. With digital we can take a file, print it, finish it and have it out of the door. People are no longer prepared to wait. They want it now.”
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The speed of turnaround offered by the HP Indigo 12000 was one of the key reasons Rapidity chose the B2 digital press. Customer demand was another, and the new B2 joins a pair of Indigos at Rapidity's which are installed at its central London site.
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