Signed, sealed and delivered
Being in the print industry can sometimes be a little frustrating. More often than not, people are telling us that print is dead and digital is the only way forward in the modern world. However, these groups of people are the same ones that are more than happy to complain about the number of marketing emails they receive and how full their email junk folders.
Here is where print still has a part to play in the form of direct mail. Marketers and agencies alike have reported a re-emergence of interest in the media, with many opting to use print as part of their latest advertising campaigns. However, while print once stood tall, it is now be used in innovative ways alongside new media in an effort to capture as much interest as possible.
This has not gone unnoticed in the industry, with many printers having upped their game in order to take advantage of this new-found love for direct mail. With this in mind, what sort of equipment is out there for such print companies and how can they use it to help boost business?
In the mix
Neopost will be the first stop for many print companies looking for mailing solutions, given the firm’s presence in this sector of the industry. Antony Paul, specialist marketing manager at the firm, says printers must try to understand how direct mail can now be used as part of a multi-channel mix.
Antony Paul, specialist marketing manager at Neopost, says the company has witnessed an increased interest in direct mail during the past few years
Paul explains: “During the last couple of years, we have witnessed a return in direct mail volumes. Like most people, we are bombarded with marketing emails on a daily basis and a lot of people choose to ignore these. What we are finding is that the trend is now towards multi-channel communications, in which direct mail has a prominent part.
“We believe the reason for this is that direct mail is the most trusted form of communication. We now view direct mail as now less of a standalone media and more part of a wider marketing campaign.”
We now view direct mail as now less of a standalone media and more part of a wider marketing campaign”
Leading on from this, Paul says Neopost is well placed to help customers update their services: “We provide solutions from basic desktop all the way up to production mail systems. We can meet the demands of a number of organisations and walk people through an expansion of their mailing requirements with our range.
“We understand that print has its challenges and many print organisations are looking to business models to do more than just put ink on paper. We have been engaging about under-standing challenges and obstacles, and seeing how we can provide solutions and implement them in a way that they can add value. We believe the relationship only starts with purchase, not ends.
“We also have software products to help deliver multi-channel campaigns. We believe printers need to think less about print as a standalone medium but increasingly where print fits in the over-all marketing and communications mix.”
Finding your footing
Print finishing kit specialist Encore Machinery is another firm that has a number of mailing solutions on offer. Mike Biggs, managing director of the company, says print companies should think carefully about the piece, or pieces, of mailing equipment they are going to purchase to establish if it is right for them.
Biggs comments: “There is a variety of different one piece mailers and a range of equipment that can fulfil the requirements, but it all adds up to the total investment. It is important for a printer, particularly if they are starting from scratch, to decide what is going to be their most profitable market and go for that first and then add on. For example, are they going to offer peelable, permanent, or pressurised seal glue? Is the machine going to include a mail sorting facility? Is it going to include a camera for security mailing?”
Encore Machinery claims its Pit Stop one piece mailer is the only one of its kind on the market
With this in mind, Biggs goes on to highlight some of the various options on offer from Encore: “The majority of one piece mailers are digitally printed and personalised and need to be creased before they are folded. Our solution with the modular in-line platen creaser on the Pit Stop is the only one on the market.”
Workflow and imaging solutions provider Xante is another firm that also has a number of options available to print companies looking to boost their mailing department. Micael Lopes, key account manager at the company, highlights one product in particular in the form of Impressia.
The Impressia Digital Multi-Media Print Systems can print on a wide range of media and sheet sizes at speeds of up to 78 full colour envelopes per minute. Resolution can reach qualities up to 2400dpi while Xante also says output is 100 percent waterproof.
Lopes adds: “The Impressia can process print for mailing campaigns, both straight, sealing envelopes and digital envelopes with windows. The workflow iQueue goes standard with every Xante printer and it prints different types of variable data that can be read afterwards, such as QR codes sequential numbers, images, bar codes and combination of any of these.
Xante’s Impressia Digital Multi-Media Print Systems can print on a host of media and sheet sizes at speeds of up to 78 full colour envelopes per minute
“The equipment is more for short runs—up to a few thousand per job—and therefore insert and seals equip-ment will not be something that customers usually buy. However, we know there are small inserters that bundle perfectly with the Impressia to insert and seal the printed jobs—things such as envelopes, invoices with the trans promo, NCR paper with numbering and letterheads.”
While all of this may be true, some print companies may be worried about the price of investment. However, Lopes stresses that the system is available at a lower cost per print to the industry.
Lopes continues: “Impressia Digital Multi-Media Print Systems are the affordable way to go digital and meet the demand for fast full colour letter-heads, cards, envelopes, forms, brochures, mailers, labels, banners and more. The complete turnkey solutions allow you to print on a wider variety of media and sheet sizes, so you can produce more in-house, and on-demand. The system is driven by the included iQueue Prepress Workflow that makes it handle complex digital files, make critical colour adjustments, apply screening, imposition and more.”
Quality and durability
Elsewhere, KAS Paper Systems is a manufacturer of mailing equipment, catering for processes such as creasing, bookletmaking and inserting. Steve Jarvis, UK sales manager at the firm, says that although the company faces plenty of competition in the sector, he says there is one major factor that sets its machinery apart.
Jarvis explains: “For the price, we offer an excellent build quality that is much more durable. We’ve got machines that people purchased on a ten-year basis and people are still using them after eleven years. We even have some cases where machines that are 20-years-old are still being used. For the price, we offer an excellent build quality.
“We sit in the middle between the major players and others in terms of build quality and price. We are a British, family-owned manufacturer; we don’t buy in components, pretty much anything metal on our machines is made in house. If customers come to us with a particularly unusual job, we can perhaps tweak the designs of the machines so they can feed certain things.”
Jarvis goes on to pick out a number of options on offer from KAS. The entry-level Mailmaster Compact can handle up to three inserts—one of which can be folded—and can be inserted into C4, C5 and DL.
There is also a mid-tier C4 or C5 version of the device that can have multiple page documents, with each recipient having a different number of pages. Jarvis explains that the machine can identify how many pages each recipient should have through a bar code on the letter.
Glancing towards new developments, Jarvis gives an insight into one of the company’s latest devices in the form of the KAS Mailmaster Eclipse.
The new KAS Mailmaster Eclipse KAS Paper Systems, operates at up 8,000 C4, C5 or DL envelopes per hour
Jarvis continues: “The new KAS Mailmaster Eclipse, at up 8,000 C4, C5 or DL envelopes per hour, is 30 percent faster than the previous model, the Mailmaster 465HS. The Eclipse will collate and insert multiple and variable page documents without reducing the machine speed.
“However, the Eclipse is about more than just speed. It also offers folding, reading on the primary document feeder as well as any insert feeder and also exit reading for insert matching and selectivity, Mailsort, document tracking and integrity. Overhead feeders, exit weighing, multiple diverts, in-line dynamic stapling or stitching and inkjet addressing are further options along with new customised data-logging.”
Meanwhile, Riso is still relatively new to this sector having only launched its production print division just four years ago. However, Dinis Cachao, production print manager at the firm, says the company has already experienced plenty of interest in its systems—in particular the ComColor cut sheet inkjet printing systems.
Offering output of 9,000 A4 images per hour, the ComColor was the first series of machines Riso identified as being well suited to the mailing sector.
O Factoid: The earliest surviving piece of mail is from Egypt and dates back to 255BC. O
Cachao comments: “The product is unique in that it is the only cut sheet inkjet printer in the world at this cost point. For those that want to produce low cost high speed cut sheet printing, we are the only players who can do that.”
Elsewhere, developed in partnership with BöweSystec, the Bridge combines high speed cutsheet printing with envelope and finishing an enclosing. Cachao explains that it can produce 8,000 mail pieces per hour and is well suited to high-end production for re-print and low to mid range. The Bridge is also highly scalable in that it can have more stations attached to it without impacting the speed of output.
Developed by Riso and Böwe-Systec, the Bridge combines high speed cutsheet printing with envelope finishing and enclosing
In terms of the more entry-level options, Cachao points printers in the direction of the Rapid Envelope Finisher System. Fitting onto the end of a print engine, the device prints variable data on inserts and wraps the envelope around the insert ready for the piece to be posted.
Cachao adds: “For someone starting out in this sector, this piece of kit would be ideal for them. Once that grows, they can move on to the Bridge, which is a much higher speed. It is best to start with a low investment and, as business grows, you can then invest further.”
In further support of Riso’s kit, Cachao also highlights the green credentials of the equipment on offer: “More companies are looking at producing more environmentally-friendly work for their customers. Our product is unique in this area as it does not use heat to generate print. Emission and power consumption is five percent of what would be on toner-based production system.”
With plenty of positivity surrounding this sector, it seems that printed material still has a major role to play in modern day communications. With plenty of support from manufacturers, coupled with an ongoing demand from marketers, print companies in this sector are likely to be busy for some time yet.
Jarvis of KAS concludes: “When you combine it with social media and this mix we talk about, there is definitely a place for ink on paper. Certain technologies replace old ones but some, like print, will run along-side.”
Running ahead of the pack
When you combine it with social media and this mix we talk about, there is definitely a place for ink on paper. Certain technologies replace old ones but some, like print, will run alongside”
One of the print mailing equipment sector’s most dedicated innovators has weighed in on the major trends sweeping the sector.
John Bates, sales director at CMC Equipment (UK), says one of the most important influencing factors on the current boom in the sector is a return on mass to the use of printed direct mail as a key marketing tool.
CMC Equipment (UK)’s sales director, John Bates, says the company’s technology, such as the JWR print finishing solution, is often copied by competitors
“Our slogan is absolutely on target; ‘we design the future’. While the market was going through a tough few years we have been focusing intensely on research and development and have technology that is perfect for the demands of the sector,” says Bates, adding: “We also have concentrated on providing superior levels of service, we really do go to the nth degree. In a time critical print environment where our customers are under immense pressure to deliver, they need to be able to respond quickly to any demand. Speed equates to faster throughput and a quicker ROI.”
Indeed, with more than 90 patents on the market, Bates points to technology such as the JWR print finishing solution which can wrap printed inserts, image marketing messages on the envelope, and add personalised data collated with insert at speeds up to 30,000 pieces an hour—its big brother the JWRL can handle 40,000.
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