FCS futureproofs business

Darryl Danielli
Friday, March 19, 2021

FCS Laser Mail has begun the rollout of a £2m strategic spend with a new Ricoh high-speed inkjet line as it looks to further diversify.

Beeching: by investing in the latest technology it gives us something extra
Beeching: by investing in the latest technology it gives us something extra

Historically the business has focused on transactional mailings, and even today that equates to around 90% of its work.

“I think we’re seen as the gold standard of print and mail, but we know that because of the moving nature of the market we need to look at other revenue streams, whether that be DM or digital communications,” said managing director Steve Beeching.

The first pillar in the plan, a Ricoh Pro VC60000 was installed at the business’s main Birmingham site this month, producing its first live job last week.

“It didn’t miss a heartbeat,” said Beeching.

The 150m/min twin-engine duplexing press can handle a wide range of stocks, including offset grades, from 40-250gsm in widths of 165-520mm.

The four-colour press runs ten heads per colour, which enable it to pump out just over 121,000 A4 impressions per hour. FCS’s machine is also running the latest pigment inkset from Ricoh, which negates the need for inline pre-coat and protector units.

“The 60000s flexibility was one of the key reasons for the purchase. Obviously it enables us to carry on and grow with the transactional, because it probably doubles our capacity and as well as that it gives us the flexibility to transfer some of the litho pre-print work direct onto the press,” said Beeching.

The VC60000, which equated to around £1m of the £2m reequip, will run alongside the newest of the firm’s pair of Ricoh InfoPrint 5000s, replacing the older of the two.

As the new machine was part of the business’s futureproofing strategy, Beeching said it took the opportunity to install all the infrastructure, such as venting and power, to install a second new high-speed inkjet line “possibly in the next 12 months”.

However, he added that before that, the all-digital house has set aside £1m to invest in infrastructure and new enclosing kit.

“I was becoming very conscious that with the 5000s, for example, in terms of quality, we were in danger of becoming a commodity printer, and as soon as that happens you’re just battling on price, and I believe by investing in the latest technology it gives us something extra, above and beyond some of the competition,” said Beeching.

As part of the VC60000 installation, the 80-staff, £12m turnover business is also rolling out Ricoh’s Supervisor cloud-based, vendor neutral shopfloor data collection system.

“It will enable us to collect data from the enclosing lines and the printers and give us a real time, automated view on where we are with each job and its relevant SLAs,” said Beeching.

Ricoh UK national sales director Simon Isaacs said: "It's always fantastic when our existing customers choose to reinvest in Ricoh products over other brands. The new machine will allow FCS Laser Mail to expand its existing relationships with current clients by offering a new direct marketing option with printed statements and bills.”

Beeching was equally fulsome in his praise for FCS’ partnership with Ricoh, which he described as a “fantastic reciprocal relationship”, citing how the manufacturer often connects FCS with potential customers, which was one of the other reasons it remained loyal in its latest investment.

As well as its main Birmingham facility, FCS also runs a satellite DR operation in Ilkeston, between Derby and Nottingham.

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