City College Plymouth has overhauled its print room following a six-figure investment with Konica Minolta.
The manufacturer was awarded a five-year contract to supply colour and mono digital production presses, complementary finishing equipment and a web-to-print system to the college, following a competitive tender process.
Machinery installed over the past few months as part of the contract includes a bizhub Press C1085 and a bizhub Press 1052 as well as a Duplo DC-645 production colour finisher and an EFI Digital StoreFront flexible e-commerce system.
The college said the new equipment has boosted its print quality, improved its efficiency, saved on costs, removed the requirement for high-volume jobs to be outsourced and enabled it to market its services to the commercial market.
City College Plymouth head of learning resources Paul Scarsbrook said: “The new equipment has transformed the way we work. We’d previously used an old style colour machine, which we’ve still got, but everything else is new.
“Our productivity levels are much higher and we’ve been able to successfully refine and define how we work, what resources we need and where we allocate staff time.”
Five staff work in the college’s print room, including a manager, two designers, a printer and another colleague that does both print and design.
Jobs in excess of 5,000 copies were previously outsourced, but the design and print team is now processing runs of up to 15,000, many running overnight. Throughput has also increased, meaning the college can keep much more work in-house.
“Now we can offer greater speed and capacity, we’re able to attract almost all the business from inside the college, whereas many jobs of high runs or requiring a quick turnaround were previously sent outside the college,” said Scarsbrook.
“The fact we can leave things to print overnight with complete confidence has brought all that work back in-house as well as attracting outside business.”
He added: “Doing more in-house is saving a not insignificant amount of money, plus the added benefit is that print quality and job turnaround times are now both firmly under the control of the print room manager.”
The Duplo multi-finisher has enabled the college to cut its number of jobs needing hand finishing jobs from thousands down to 43 last month, freeing up staff.
The Digital StoreFront system, which Scarsbrook said should be fully operational by January, is set to support the print team in securing additional revenue by showcasing the range of services the college provides to the external commercial market.
“We’ve got a system whereby we can hire more designer time if we need to, while still retaining the college as our main source of work,” said Scarsbrook.
“We have to put that first but we’d be able to take on more and more commercial work with the capacity that we’ve got. We’re already generating many thousands of pounds per year but we’re hoping to capitalise on that.”
The design and print team manage the production of the college’s corporate collateral including posters, leaflets, business cards, prospectuses and other marketing materials.
They also provide a professional service to the 720 staff that work across the college’s three sites, handling the requirement for fast turnaround, high quality printed exam papers, lecture notes and workbooks.
The college would also like to invest in cutting and etching kit as well as a 3D printer in the near future.