Me & my... Xerox DocuColor 8080

Jon Severs
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Growing demand for high-quality digital work persuaded KJB Print to invest in a digital press - and this machine ticked all the right boxes

Stephen Egerton, commercial director at Staffordshire printer KJB Print, may have only been in the print industry for a year, but he seems to have very quickly grasped what he is doing. Over the past 12 months, he has helped transform his new employer from a litho-only house with limited clients into a multi-disciplinary print provider for blue-chip companies and other corporate and commercial clients.

"I come from a world of business consultancy and came into KJB, which is a 20-year-old family firm, to look at the business operations and to help the company progress," says Egerton. "My job was to find out how it could move forwards, and the solution was a transformation programme that involved improving efficiency and customer satisfaction, increasing turnover and the portfolio of products and making significant kit investments."

Those significant investments included the installation of Kodak Insite software, a Komori LS 529 B2 press and, in a major departure for the company, a Xerox DocuColor 8080. Up until November last year, the company’s only interaction with digital print was outsourcing around £1,000 worth of digital work per month to other printers. When Egerton arrived, he recognised the need to bring that service in-house and to expand it.

"I realised that we had to have digital capability both to better serve the clients we had and also to expand that list of clients," he explains. "We needed variable data products and short-run capacity if we were to expand and achieve the efficiencies and progress we desired. So, although some of the other investments were larger, the 8080 really was the most significant purchase."

Digital debut
Not having any prior experience in the digital market, KJB took its time considering the press options on offer. Egerton says the company looked at all the digital presses on the market, assessing the smallest details to ensure that the machine it opted for was the best fit for the business.

"We needed something that was high capacity, but that also produced a really high-quality finished product," he explains. "We did a lot of research to find the best fit for that and it was the 8080 that ticked the most boxes. It was the right choice commercially, it was the right machine in terms of its specifications, and the deal we reached with Xerox on service was not beaten by any other manufacturer."

The Xerox DocuColor 8080 can produce 80 A4 pages per minute at a resolution of 2,400dpi. It can handle a maximum sheet size of 320x488mm and weight of 300gsm. Xerox points out that auto duplexing from all trays and for all weights makes for significant efficiency gains, while it also claims the press’s automated Colour Quality Suite with inline spectrophotometer ensures consistent and reliable colour accuracy and quality. 

Installation took place in November 2011 and went without a hitch. Egerton says the company was fortunate to have an experienced press minder that could adapt quickly to the machine, but he adds that the quality of the Xerox training, as well as easy-to-navigate touchscreen controls and a high degree of automation, helped ensure the 8080 was productive within a few days.

Just how productive was something that changed over time. Due to the small amount of digital work the company had been outsourcing, the press was initially nowhere near its maximum capability. For the first month, it was running for around three hours per day, then in consecutive months that moved to four hours, then five hours and that has increased to the point where the company has now reached full capacity, running 10 hours a day and producing around 300,000 impressions per month.

"We had very low demand on digital – £1,000 per month – so we started from a low base," explains Egerton. "But we transferred some of the shorter-run litho work we were doing onto the digital press; we estimate the break point between the two to be a run between 1,000 and 2,000 depending on the job. But the growth came at us from all directions and it has taken us by surprise. Quality has been key. It has meant existing customers have increased their work with us and have kept coming back. It has also meant we have also won work from the customers of print shops with older digital gear, looking for the highest quality possible."

The fact that customers are coming to KJB for quality has been a big relief for the company. It has always prided itself on providing the highest level of offset quality, but had been less pleased with the standard of digital work it had been outsourcing. Now the 8080 is on board, it feels there is now parity between the two technologies. 

Delivery demands
In terms of the speed, Egerton is similarly impressed. He says it matches the maximum rate advertised and that this is comfortably meeting the requirements of the business – the company has a mix of deadlines, from contract work with a maximum three-day lead time, to off-the-cuff jobs demanding next-day delivery.

With these delivery demands and because the company is now running at full capacity, reliability is obviously key. Egerton says the Xerox machine has delivered in this area – with only a couple of minor issues over the 12 months it has been in service, and those were dealt with onsite by engineers within a few hours.

"If we look at the call-outs for the 12 months, it is far better than I had expected," says Egerton.

The service, he says, has actually gone beyond just machine maintenance. He explains that Xerox has aided KJB in the whole transition of the business from a litho-only operation to a player in the digital market. As a result, it has proved an integral point of contact in the company’s transformation.

"The local Xerox rep has been incredibly helpful in assisting us in transferring into the digital market and also developing our services in that area. It has been an integral partner in what we want to achieve – Xerox’s support is vital," he says. "It is not just the kit, but the support as well."

This has obviously put Xerox in a very strong position now KJB is considering expanding its digital operations. The company hopes to move to a shift system in the coming year, both for litho and digital, and with the 8080 already maxed out, it is in the market for, potentially, two more presses.

"We are after two more machines of similar capacity and Xerox is in the driving seat because we have been so impressed by the service we have had and the performance of the machine," says Egerton.

The DocuColor 8080 has obviously made a strong impression on KJB, then, and Egerton says he has been pleasantly surprised with the impact going digital has had on the company. As to whether he would recommend the press to other businesses, he says it depends on the make-up of the company and what it is faced with. 

"I think you have to look at the local competition and the potential demand for digital work. If a company looks at that and decides there is a case to make a digital investment and that there is a gap in the market for a higher quality product, then the 8080 is going to be the perfect machine for that," he says. "It has certainly been a fantastic purchase for us."


 

SPECIFICACTIONS

Max speed 80ppm (A4)
Resolution 2,400dpi
Max sheet size
320x488mm
Max stock weight
300gsm
Recommended average monthly volume
100,000-300,000 pages per month
Duty cycle
1.2m pages per month
Price
from £80,000
Contact
Xerox 0870 873 4519 www.xerox.co.uk


 

COMPANY PROFILE
KJB Print is a Staffordshire-based commercial print house serving a range of clients, including blue-chip corporations and local businesses. A family company, it has been trading for more than 20 years and operates both litho and digital kit. In the past year, the 25-staff company has made several changes to the way it operates in a bid to expand services and grow turnover.

Why it was bought…
As part of the changes to the business, the company decided to bring digital printing in-house, both to increase work from existing customers and to attract new clients to the business. It opted for a Xerox DocuColor 8080 because the press ticked all the boxes, says commercial director Stephen Egerton, from the specifications to the price to the service.

How it has performed…
Egerton says the machine has been a fantastic addition to the company, producing high-quality and timely digital print for both existing clients and new clients. After a slow start, it is now running at full capacity and the company is considering two more investments. Egerton says Xerox is in the driving seat to be manufacturer of choice on the basis of both the 8080 performance and the "excellent" Xerox customer service.

 

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