Industrial Inkjet (IIJ) is to open a customer centre as part of an investment that could be as much as £2m to cope with a jump in demand for training for its print engines from across the world.
The company agreed terms this month to take on another building close to its headquarters on the same business park in Swavesey near Cambridge.
IIJ is kitting out the unit now with print-sample machines including two IIJ’s XYPrint 300 units as well as a new large roll-to-roll single pass system fitted with a number of IIJ print engines.
Founder and managing director John Corrall said: “This new building will become a dedicated customer centre and forms the next step in our growth plans.
“We are looking at various roll-to-roll models but it will be a high-speed machine with a web width of about 1.2m. That kind of kit costs about £250,000.”
Corrall said he expected the new base to open around September and over a two-year period could swallow up £2m in fitting out.
His 45-staff company aims to grow turnover of £5.6m by 20% to 30% next year, with machine sales amounting to more than half of that figure. Most kit is exported, with South Africa a big market.
“But the reason for the new centre is not the increase in sales, which is great. It's the increase in customer demand for training that is driving the move.
“Having just celebrated our 10-year anniversary, it was an obvious time to review our activities and business strategy.
“One thing that stood out recently is that a number of OEM customers for Konica Minolta printheads are asking about technical details that were well within their current skill area.
“I realised many of the customers’ staff had been promoted or moved on and the new engineers didn’t have a fraction of the inkjet experience their predecessors had built up.”
Corrall added: “While we don’t mind filling in these knowledge gaps as they appear, what is really needed is to get the new engineers to come to IIJ for our 'deep' training courses.
“But if we are to increase the number of courses we provide then we also need to increase the space and equipment for them. And this is the goal of our new investment.”
In addition to bespoke training courses IIJ will provide engineering knowledge for machine builders on top of existing courses on ink testing and printhead parameter optimisation.
“These courses are aimed at ink developers, but IIJ believes each machine builder should have at least one in-house guru trained to the same level,” said Corrall.
“Our goal is to concentrate print sample, training and customer demo functions into the new dedicated building to further improve customer experience.”
IIJ will use customer demos and training to simulate customers' production environments in a dedicated area without having to fight for space with the company's production department.