IPIA NEWS & COMMENT: Duplo enables pursuit of diversification and growth
IPIA NEWS & COMMENT
There can be no doubt that print businesses have never been better equipped with the technology and services available on the market to diversify their product offering into growth sectors – while at the same time the obstacles to achieving that critical step being at an all-time high.
That is why Duplo has continuously focussed on delivering systems that can enable printers to manage factors such as the increasing demand for complex and variable short runs – while improving their profitability to offset factors such as increased overheads and limited staff levels. These factors are of “paramount importance” when it comes to the development of its digital booklet makers says Product Development Manager, Peter Dyson.
Peter explains that the technology developers relentless focus on increasing the automation, multifunctional capabilities, ease of use, and flexibility of its digital booklet maker systems has been integral to enabling its customers to mitigate market challenges – while enabling them to diversify into growth markets and strengthen their adaptability.
“From what I have seen at first hand visiting our customers in recent months, typical key challenges have been created by the sudden acceleration of existing trends and unpredictable see-saw effect on life in general as we have emerged from the pandemic,” emphasises Peter.
He continues: “The aftereffects of COVID on our sector was significant. Notably, there was a change in customer base – as some clients closed (particularly high street chains), downsized or changed their business models away from using print and dealt with new flexible working conditions. There was also a reduced footfall in physical shopping areas, and this caused a reduced demand for catalogues, brochures and point-of-sale print.
“At the same time, within the print shop itself, there is now reduced staffing – partly caused by an increase in those taking early retirement during Covid, and the increase in staff sickness now being at a record high. A factor confirmed recently by the Office for National Statistics.
“The consequence of this was a shift in the types, regularity and quantities of print items being demanded by our biggest buying sectors, and so our technology has been an answer in many cases to this complex dynamic.”
Short run challenge
This was certainly true for Minuteman Press Kings Lynn, with Managing Director Keith Boyce, commenting on an upgrade of their old Duplo DBM-150 booklet system, with a new DBM-350 digital booklet system: “It’s just so much more efficient, this also complements the automation gains we are making across the whole business as the demands of web-to-print become more demanding on the print process – as volumes increase with an expectation of same day production. The automation on the booklet system means we can push so many more jobs through the machine, and we are able to make good on our excellent rate of goods delivered per day.”
Underlying the comments from Keith is a clear need for cast iron reliability and predictability – so that his team can handle increasing numbers of tight turnaround short runs efficiently, with minimal waste. At the same time, is the requirement to manage variable data work to pursue growth markets – such as personalised promotional print for marketing campaigns.
Peter emphasises: “Automation allows repeatable and accurate set-up, ensuring the makeready time is as little as possible, reducing wasted time and wasted copies. With an ever-decreasing average run length and increase in personalised print, the need to reduce wasted time and copies becomes more significant, as these directly impact the profit margin of a job that has already been quoted on before printing starts.”
A clear direction of travel from Duplo with its digital booklet maker range has been the development of a specific set of performance characteristics and strengths, which ultimately enables printers to diversify into growth markets and strengthens their overall strategic adaptability as a business.
Right first time
Indeed, Duplo were the first technology developer in the sector to pair a digital sheet feeder with a booklet maker, over 20 years ago. Since then, integrated mark reading, and optional features such as barcode readers, provide the automated quality control to ensure booklets are assembled with all the correct pages. This is essential for applications such as insurance or health policies, investment schemes, and other financial related products. This is crucial in today’s world, where data management and security control are of paramount importance.
If a document is made incorrectly and personal data shared with the wrong client, damaging fines are possible that can dwarf the cost of using the correct technology. Job tracking and recording generates a report that can be used to prove what was produced and when; after all it is possible that the package doesn’t reach the intended client because of a failing in the delivery process out of your control.
This is of particular importance to specialists in this area such as Latcham, which has made great strides in building trust in the financial services and high-compliance sectors. Its Managing Director, Mike Hughes, comments: “We have two Duplo iSaddles and they are simply great machines that have given us an extra tool to ensure client confidence. We use them to produce highly-personalised policy booklets for instance, as its bar code reading functionality scans every page.
“This means that a complete booklet can be produced without manual intervention and checking. They are also robust and productive machines that just work and enables our operation to build momentum without the setbacks caused by the loss of productivity that can be caused by human error.”
Diversify and prosper
Peter points out another benefit in this regard, which is enabling Duplo’s customers to retain higher-margin print orders from clients that may have stopped or moved away from print otherwise: “Even where the booklet does not involve a financial purpose, there are applications such as a university prospectus, where a data driven solution can ensure that only the pages actually required by the prospective student are printed and delivered; hence massively reducing the volume of paper and print required, warehousing and mailing costs – while delivering a genuinely personal and relevant experience.
“The same can be said of manuals and documentation for the manufacturing industry. After all, who hasn’t opened a manual for a new electronic or white good and found the vast majority is a dozen different languages that are completely irrelevant to you. Or imagine a situation where a student opened an examination paper and did not realise one sheet was missing or had a page of questions from the wrong exam!”
This is certainly a point that is highly relevant to Ollie Renshaw, Business Systems Manager, Leeds University Print and Design Bureau, who comments: “What really intrigued me when we were looking at the technology available on the market was the innovation and level of engineering detail that Duplo had put into its portfolio. We've taken a DC-648 slitter cutter creaser, which has revolutionised our print finishing – and then we changed our decision from procuring a standard digital booklet maker to an iSaddle.
“That was a big decision, and at the time I thought a bit of a risk. But the innovation in that machine allows us to handle different formats and different sizes so we can cater for the diverse demands of our clients. We can create A4 landscape booklets, square booklets, waterfall booklets – and because it is barcode driven – it is easy to set up and very fast. So, that sort of throughput from the Duplo devices was also key, it's really good stuff.”
In order for printers to achieve sustained growth, diversification into a much broader product portfolio that encompasses personalised short run print is critical. But what is vital to achieve this profitability and sustainably is finishing technology that can facilitate minimal waste, reduces operator intervention to an absolute minimum, and increases the ability for printers to adapt to market demand flexibly.