Howard Hunt eyes third Fusion Cross after £1.2m investment

By Hannah Jordan, Monday 20 March 2017

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Direct mail service provider Howard Hunt has installed the second of two Böwe Systec Fusion Cross high speed inserting systems at its Dartford site and is considering a third.

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Fusion Cross: Howard Hunt mulling a third

The circa-£70m-turnover company took delivery of the first device in August last year after a series of tests at the Böwe Systec factory in Germany and visits to other sites using the Fusion Cross system. It went on to install a second at the end of January 2017, which went into full operation in early February.

“We always try to make sure we have the latest technology and we needed to improve our integrity as well as our performance so we looked across several vendors,” said Howard Hunt operations director Paul Kemp.

“Böwe was a make we hadn’t really looked at before because of their transactional background but once we started doing tests at their factory and saw the other sites in operation, we were convinced it was the right fit for us,” he added.

The Fusion Cross machines can insert at a top speed of up to 16,000 envelopes/h at B4 and 22,000 envelopes/h up to B5. It takes envelopes from between 190mm and 356mm-wide, at weights ranging between 60gsm and 160gsm.

Kemp said the new devices, which have replaced “end of life equipment”, were a huge success. “We wanted to double our output and enhance capacity and the machines have proved themselves. The hardest part has been that they run twice as fast so we have to feed twice as much. We think we can increase productivity by around 4m per month,” he said.

Kemp said the company was so impressed with the two Fusion Cross systems that a third was on the cards. 

“We have two now and we said at the start of this project that we’d run them until April-time and then make a decision on a third when we see what’s happening in the market. The idea would be to increase volumes and reduce costs,” he explained.

“The machines use friction feeders rather than the rotary feeders that we were used to but the support and training we’ve had from Böwe has been fantastic – the transition of our operators going from our old systems to these has been great,” he said.

Future upgrades to the systems would include the addition of alternative high-speed cut-sheet or continuous input channels, and the use of roll-fed envelopes using the Tornado system, Kemp explained.

Howard Hunt is part of the Howard Hunt Group, which was established in 1990, initially as a direct mail provider. It has grown into a multichannel marketing services provider with offices in the UK, USA, Spain, Poland and South Africa, and clients across Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australia.

The company has three sites in the UK and employs around 250 people.

Howard Hunt won the PrintWeek Awards Digital Printer of the Year title in 2016 and the Direct Mail Printer of the Year award in 2015, for which it also received the highly commended nod in 2016. 

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