Xpress Labels revamps digital ops with first HP Indigo

Richard Stuart-Turner
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Custom label provider Xpress Labels has praised its most recent install – its first HP press – for helping it to navigate its way through the pandemic after a lot of its work fell away quickly a year ago.

Ross: "We have very few limitations now"
Ross: "We have very few limitations now"

Operating across three units in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, the business took delivery of an Indigo 6900 late last summer to replace the existing UV inkjet machine it had been running.

Managing director David Ross told Printweek: “We’ve been looking at HP from afar for a long time. Up until 2016 we had always been a flexo house, running two flexo presses, but we had subcontracted our digital work up until that point.

“We invested in UV inkjet in 2016 and we went on a bit of a journey with that – we had a lot of successes with it because it enabled us to produce a load of work that we hadn’t been able to before in-house, and it also enabled us to produce an element of flexo work digitally as well.

“It certainly allowed us to do a lot that we couldn’t do previously, but we met the limitations of that technology very quickly.”

He added: “We had a look at HP in 2019 – we went over to Barcelona and had a demonstration and we were very impressed with what we saw.

“We did a lot of calculations that year tracking our production on both the digital press we were running at the time and our flexo presses. It very quickly gave us the evidence we needed to know that maybe 65% of the work we were doing would be more profitable and cost-effective to produce on the Indigo.

“We weren’t in a position at that time to continue the conversation with HP, but following the onset of the pandemic in 2020, a large chunk of what we do was affected by Covid.

“We sat with our heads in our hands for a couple of weeks wondering what we were going to do, and we realised we should take the opportunity to do something different; something that would help us to fly out of this.

“We had the evidence of what could deliver us better results and offer our customers more possibilities so we then began the conversation again with HP and through both working together we found a way.”

The company sold its UV inkjet printer and installed the Indigo 6900, with the training and ramp up of the technology taking place under the coronavirus restrictions in place at the time.

“We knew we were going to take a big step forward in terms of the kind of work we could produce and the quality and efficiency of the work. We have very few limitations now, which is fantastic for us,” said Ross.

HP labels and packaging sales manager for the UK and Ireland Tony Lock told Printweek Xpress Labels was also one of the first companies to benefit from training at its own premises – this is usually carried out at the manufacturer’s training centre in Barcelona.

“It was a change of process for us, so we learnt a lot. I think overall I would say that our training processes have evolved now due to the pandemic, so it was great to work with a team like David’s to get this all to work.”

Xpress Labels has retained its Mark Andy and MPS UV flexo presses and has also been able to take work off those machines with the arrival of the Indigo, creating a lot of capacity on that side of the business too. It is now targeting “pretty significant growth” due to the manpower and the kit it now has available, according to Ross.

With 24 staff and a turnover of £3.4m, the business serves clients in food and beverage, DIY, home care and pet food, among others.

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