Me & my: Ricoh Pro C9110
Monday, November 9, 2015
Telford doesn’t have the same allure as New York or Barcelona as a travel destination but when Kingswood iOptus came to pick a new digital press it wasn’t the environs of the demo centre that won it over, it was the capability of the kit within. Doing the successful wooing was Ricoh’s latest cut-sheet colour offering the Pro C9110.
Kingswood iOptus is a printing and legal document services firm located just off Finsbury Square in the City of London. It runs an impressive arsenal of digital printing kit to ensure that it never has to turn a job down and can offer rapid turnaround times. Unlike its suppliers, though, the firm’s own location is critical.
“Our geographic location is our USP,” says director Robert Long. “And we believe we have more print capacity than any other B2B print company actually based in the City.”
To offer a more complete service to its customers in the legal professions the firm, under its previous name, Kingswood Steele, acquired legal document services company iOptus last October, changing its name at the same time to incorporate the iOptus brand.
It has been undergoing rapid growth. Sales have increased from £1.2m four years ago to the point where it expects to hit the £5m mark this year.
Long describes the overall customer base as “quite diverse”. The City’s financial businesses, including insurance firms, make up the majority of its customers, but it also does a sizable proportion of work for firms in the media, retail and sports sectors.
Services include colour and monochrome cut-sheet digital print and large-format work. In addition to the Ricoh kit its digital print plant list includes Canon imagePresses, Océ 6200 ‘Geminis’ and several Konica Minolta machines. Wide-format kit includes HP, Roland DG and Canon Océ ColorWaves printers.
Its first Ricoh was the C9110, which along with a C7110 was installed in April this year, making it one of the first of these machines in the UK.
The 9110 is a cut-sheet colour machine, and is Ricoh’s latest offering and the first from the manufacturer to top 100ppm, which puts it in the class of the more serious production devices.
“We were looking to bolster our production and we wanted a faster machine that could handle higher volumes,” says Long. “It was also important that it could handle stocks up to 400gsm and banner sheets.”
Before taking the plunge the firm took a trip to the Ricoh factory in Telford to put the technology through its paces and visited several existing Ricoh customers using the firm’s earlier C901 machines.
The need for more firepower led the firm to look at kit in a more productive class than its previous machinery. In addition to the 9110 it looked at the Xerox’ iGen series and HP’s Indigo.
“We looked hard, visiting New York to see the iGen and Barcelona to see the Indigo,” says Long.
In the end the 9110 won out for a number of reasons.
“The Ricoh was pound-for-pound better value for money, especially its cost of acquisition relative to its capabilities,” he says.
Although up until now Ricoh hadn’t been on the firm’s radar as a production printing provider, the feedback from C901 customers reassured him the machines would be “a safe bet”.
It was also less disruptive and less expensive to install than the other devices.
“The iGen would have needed a lot of ducting and the Indigo would have needed us to strengthen the floor,” he says.
Even so, with space and time at a premium, slotting the new machine in was always going to be something of a challenge. In the end, to get it into the firm’s basement print room it was winched in over a weekend to minimise production downtime and some other machinery was repositioned to make space.
In addition to getting the kit in, the firm needed to get staff up to speed with how to operate it. Ricoh, and the press operators, were flexible to make the process as quick and simple as possible with the least disruption to production. Weekday staff were trained up over weekends while weekend staff were trained up during the week to ensure they hit the ground running.
The use of the EFI Fiery front-end on the 9110 meant the workflow was familiar to the operators already as it is standard across its other machines.
The 9110 is a dry toner digital printer. With its maximum speed of 130 A4 ppm, it is nearly 50% faster than Ricoh’s previous flagship the Pro C901. It’s been beefed up all round with an average monthly print volume (AMPV) – what it’s designed to handle comfortably – of 1 million A4 sheets and a duty cycle – how hard you can flog it if needed – of 1.75 million.
As required by Kingswood it also has the ability to handle stocks up to 400gsm and the banner option, useful features for a production machine. It can also handle and automatically duplex sheets up to 700mm long and has the ability to process a wide range of materials, including synthetics and magnetic substrates.
In addition to the 9110 the firm also bought its smaller sister the 7110, which brings some different tricks to the party, most notably a fifth colour station that can apply gloss or white toner. Initially unsure if there was a market the firm outsourced work with these effects to test the waters before taking the plunge. Long has been pleasantly surprised by the uptake, especially of the white.
Overall he is pleased with both machines, stating that: “They work very well and it’s hard to be critical.”
The main issue the firm had was getting to grips with changing over from white to clear on the fifth unit of the 7110, so strictly speaking not an issue with the 9110 itself.
“It’s not as seamless as I would have hoped for, and there was a bit of contamination,” he says. “It would be nice to have both online at the same time.”
Another slight quibble is that the digital gloss isn’t quite as punchy as a true UV spot, although he says the firm has found the registration of the machine is so good that they can run it twice to add additional spot gloss and get a result that’s pretty much indistinguishable if needed.
Overall service hasn’t been an issue and the machines are “fairly reliable”. There were some issues initially with the time taken to get some spares, but Long chalks that up to being an early adopter before Ricoh had got fully up to speed itself.
Responding to the firm’s feedback Ricoh services marketing development manager Gareth Parker says: “We’ve reinforced our stance since the launch that the 7110 is not a spot UV product but is in fact a clear toner technology. If operators follow guidelines it’s possible to perfectly swap the fifth unit and we are regularly reminding our clients.
“It’s a learning process. The machine’s ability to print twice to get a thicker spot gloss is testament to the accuracy of the registration.
“Since the initial product launch for both the Pro C7110 and 9110, Ricoh customers can now comfortably enjoy UK-national field service coverage.”
Overall Long is very pleased with the 9110 and the 7110: “The best things are that they have allowed us to up our output, offer a wider media range from 50-400gsm and helped to make us self-sufficient, so there’s no need to outsource now. We need to have the firepower to be able to meet clients’ time-critical requirements.”
In fact the positive experience with a brand that he didn’t know previously means he’s already looking at additional Ricoh equipment. Location is crucial for the Kingswood iOptus business, and it would appear that a return trip to Telford is very much on the cards.
Max paper size 330x700mm
Max speed 130 A4ppm
Max resolution 1,200x4,800dpi
Paper weights 52-400gsm
Contact Ricoh 01784 416 900 www.ricoh.co.uk
Based in the heart of the City of London Kingswood iOptus offers a mix of printing and legal support services.
Its customer base is diverse covering legal, financial, media, retail and sports businesses. Services include colour and monochrome cut-sheet digital print and large-format work.
Its location just off Finsbury Square in Moorgate is key to its offering, alongside an impressive arsenal of digital printing kit that ensures it never has to turn a job down and can offer turnaround times of as little as two hours.
Why it was bought...
“We were looking to bolster our production and we wanted a faster machine that could handle higher volumes,” says director Robert Long. “It was also important that it could handle stocks up to 400gsm and banner sheets.” Additionally the firm took a second Ricoh, the 7110 to enable it to produce digital white and varnish effects.
How it has performed...
Long says: “The best things are that they have allowed us to up output, offer a wider media range and helped to make us self-sufficient, so there’s no need to outsource now. We need to have the firepower to be able to meet clients’ short deadlines.”