Heart-warming stories about the amicable coexistence of electronic and print marketing communications are always reassuring to hear, and mailing company (and now holistic marketing communications provider) The Herald Chase Group can certainly offer one of these. While 2010 was the year the company chose to branch out into offering electronic, as well as printed, marketing solutions, 2011 saw it fork out a considerable amount for a brand new B2 press. It is reassuring to know, then, that even those making in-roads into digital media still recognise the significant value of investing in print.
Both moves are in keeping with the rationale of a firm that has been steadily expanding since it was established as a mailing company in the early 1990s. Most recently, strong contracts were brought in when Herald Chase purchased printing company Richfield Graphics in 2007, and when the group acquired Fairway Press and merged with Conservatree Print & Design last year. Today Herald Chase prides itself, the company says, on being a single source for customers’ marketing needs.
It was this desire to offer the maximum number of services under one roof that moved the company to install an ‘S’ type Ryobi 755G five-colour B2 press with coater in June this year. Whereas Herald Chase used to sub-contract out some of its B2 work, the company now saves itself money by printing a range of four- and five-colour jobs (including direct mail, leaflets and brochures) in-house.
"We wanted to bring a larger workload in-house, but we also wanted to increase our capacity to do more colour work on top of that," says Herald Chase managing director Chris Goslar. "It’s a very efficient machine to run, so we can now take on jobs that we couldn’t do in the past because they took too long."
The productivity of the Ryobi 755G is the feature that has been key to its success at Herald Chase, and in attracting the company to the machine in the first place. Goslar explains that the machine is not only generally much quicker than the 12-year-old five-colour Heidelberg and two-colour Ryobi presses it replaced; it also has much faster makeready times. Whereas the older presses used to take 45 minutes to makeready, the 755G typically takes only 10 minutes, allowing Herald Chase to take on fast turn-around jobs that it had to turn away in the past.
The company also decided to opt for this model of press instead of the Heidelberg Speedmaster, which it initially considered, because it has always been impressed with the level of support offered by Ryobi supplier Apex Graphics.
"We went for the Ryobi model in the end because we have a good relationship with Apex," says Goslar. "We know they’re always willing to come to the factory and help very quickly if there are problems."
Apex has certainly impressed on this front with the 755G, says Goslar.
"When we had the press installed, there were just a couple of normal teething problems," he reports. "It was nothing major, just a couple of things that needed reconfiguring and a paper feeder that wasn’t gripping the paper quite as we thought it should. It was certainly nothing that put us out of action for very long, because if we did have to phone Apex, they came round and sorted out the problem very quickly."
Apex is just as quick to send support, says Goslar, if an operator needs further assistance in running the press.
"On top of the week of initial training that came automatically [along with service support] when the press was purchased," he says, "Apex are very quick and helpful, even if it’s a problem with our understanding of how to get the best performance out of the press."
Price was another factor that made the Ryobi 755G the obvious choice for Herald Chase, reveals Goslar.
"We just thought the machine was superb value for money considering what it could do," he says, citing the machine’s most impressive features as its automatic plateloading capability and Ink Volume Setter. The latter converts digital artwork into ink duct profiles and contributes to the machine’s low makeready times.
Another key feature of the Ryobi 755G, Goslar continues, is its scan-back facility with denistometer, which automatically adjusts the ink fountain keys to ensure that the colour densities match those of the ‘okay’ sheets. Human intuition is thus replaced by precise numerical values.
While these features have improved the quality of the final product and the speed with which Herald Chase can deliver B2 jobs, opting for the coating unit has allowed the company to bring in jobs that require certain finishes.
"The coater allows us to offer a different service," says Goslar. "It means we can have five colours with a coating on top, rather than using four colours and putting the coater in the fifth unit. That brings in extra work, as it wasn’t something we were able to offer before."
Understandably, Goslar is very pleased with the investment. The 755G installation will save the company around £200,000 a year just on outsourcing, he estimates. The team are about to ramp up production to six 12-hour days per week, instead of five, to address the increased demand.
As a result, Goslar would recommend the press to anyone "who wants to put their foot into the B2 market, or who wants to upgrade from an older press to benefit from the efficiencies of a modern machine".
Installing the machine was relatively straight-forward, says Goslar. Installation should be similarly uncomplicated for any printer with sufficient space for a press with a large footprint, who can appoint a project manager and ensure that the electrical supplies are re-routed in time.
The only sticking point would be that the printer might – as Herald Chase did – need to consider installing a platesetter that is capable of matching the speed of the Ryobi 755G.
"Our old platesetters just weren’t fast enough and would have held things up with the new press," admits Goslar. "We invested £45,000 in a Screen PlateRite 2055Vi platesetter at the same time, which was also supplied by Apex."
The main consideration for a company contemplating the Ryobi 755G, though, would be whether it could set aside the capital for such an investment. "The only thing someone potentially installing it would have to consider would be the investment outlay," says Goslar.
But The Herald Chase Group, where even the majority of four-colour work is being produced on the five-colour 755G because of its superior speed, shows how worthwhile this investment can be.
"So, if initial outlay isn’t an issue," Goslar concludes, "I would fully recommend the Ryobi 755G."
Max paper size 788x600mm
Min paper size 279x200mm
Max printing area S type: 765x545mm; XLW type: 765x580mm
Paper thickness Straight printing: 0.04- 0.6mm, Option 0.8mm (non-perfectors), Perfecting: 0.04-0.4mm
Plate size S type: standard 745x605m, max 775x605mm; XLW type: standard 745x635mm, max 775x635mm
Feeder pile capacity 800mm
Delivery pile capacity 925mm
Price Approx £600,000
Contact Apex Digital 01442 235236 www.apexdigital.co.uk
The Herald Chase Group operates from a 2,800m² facility in Reading, which incorporates litho and digital print, mailing, data management, digital media, logistics and warehousing facilities, as well as a marketing consultancy service. Now a company with a turnover of £5m, Herald Chase was set up as a mailing company in the early 1990s, before acquiring Richfield Graphics in 2007 and Fairway Press in January 2010, and then merging with Conservatree Print & Design in October 2010. They offer both traditional and digital marketing solutions and count a number of household names among their customers, including retailers B&Q and Comet.
Why it was bought
The Group purchased a Ryobi 755G five-colour B2 press with coater in order to bring in-house B2 work that the company was previously contracting out. Herald Chase managing director Chris Goslar says that the company wanted to increase their capacity to do more colour work in-house.
How it has performed
The press has performed very well, says Goslar: "We’ve had very little disruption as a result of bedding-in. If there have been any tiny problems, Apex have sent someone straight out to resolve them."