Route One kicks off big summer of spending

By Max Goldbart, Monday 03 July 2017

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Route One Print, part of the Bluetree Group, has kicked off a £5.3m summer spend with the purchase of three new stitching lines and a three-knife trimmer.

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Carnell (centre) with Route One production director Jim Swain (right) and Horizon's Hideharu Hori

The fast-growing trade printer invested around £700,000 in three Horizon StitchLiner Mark IIIs and a Horizon HT-1000V three-knife trimmer (£180,000). A secondhand Muller Martini Presto A90 is being taken out. 

Two of the Mark IIIs and the HT-1000V will be installed at Bluetree’s main 9,290sqm Rotherham facility in around two weeks, with the third Mark III arriving in December.

Route One is one of the first UK companies to take the Mark III, which was taken on for distribution by Horizon in May and will be given its official UK debut at Ipex. All kit was supplied by Horizon’s UK agent Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) and delivered from Japan. 

Route One managing director Adam Carnell didn’t reveal what the other £4.6m will be spent on but said it will be used to bolster both Route One’s litho and digital facilities. Total spend last year topped the £5m mark.

Carnell said: “We researched the market but the reality is that with average run lengths of booklets being around the 1,000-mark and typical pagination and size varying, the quick makereadies coupled with the running speed means overall as a package they [the Mark IIIs] were a lot more productive on our specific run length than the competition.

“We’ve got a good relationship with IFS and Horizon generally and obviously with the cross training available to our operators it’s a very quick learning time.” 

Carnell said the third Mark III’s installation had been delayed due to high anticipated demand for the new machine. Horizon has loaned Route One an older StitchLiner 5500 until the installation date. 

“Because of the anticipated demand of the new Mark III, Horizon wanted to hold back on giving us allocation until Christmas time,” he said. 

Each Mark III has been configured slightly differently, one with three towers and six bins per tower, one with two towers and six bins per tower, and one with two towers and 10 bins per tower plus an HOF-400 Sheet Feeder. 

The Mark III can run at maximum speeds of 6,000bph and 12,000bph with two-up production, and uses Hohner 52/8S stitching heads for variable thickness production. It can also produce A4 landscape booklets at up to 5,300bph and has a 310mm-wide colour touchscreen for enhanced operation and automated job setup, which means setup times are less than a minute.

The HT-1000V will nearline finish books that are produced on Route One’s Horizon BQ-470 binder installed last year. It runs at up to 1,000cph and Horizon says it achieves zero makereadies on book-trim size and thickness changes. 

Carnell added: “What this enables us to do is give us the reliability within the system in that we have four matching stitching methods. If we have any issues on any one of our machines, we have three other machines that work can go through.”

270-staff Bluetree Group, which incorporates Route One, Instantprint, Instantprint Pro and Bluetree Connect, is aiming for sales of £32m by the end of this year, a boost of £4m. Earlier this year, it took a second Polar 137 N Plus guillotine as it continues to strive for a same-day print service. 

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