15 April 2018 Digital Printing Technologies

Ashford Colour Press leads the way with HP's Piazza

The HP Piazza technology announced at the London Book Fair will save time and money for publishers and will capture work for printers as Ashford Colour Press hopes.

Ashford Colour Press has taken delivery of an HP PageWide T410 series inkjet web press to deliver print on demand books for Pearson using the HP Piazza cloud software announced last week.

Piazza is a cloud environment designed to automate a publisher's workflow from a completed PDF to delivery to a print production workflow. It will remove the need to compile orders and raise purchase orders, adjust specifications and manage distribution to different production sites for the publisher.

The printer will receive a single print ready file that may include dozens or hundreds of books ready to be printer as book of one or small batch orders. Piazza will remove the need for warehousing titles and creation of multiple small orders and moves publishers from a physical warehouse to store books to a virtual store.

It has been in use by Pearson and Ashford Colour Press since the start of this year. Stephen Jones, Pearson’s director of Global Direct Procurement, says: “Pearson is undergoing a digital transformation to become a simpler, more efficient business and our UK book supply chain is a key part of this.

“We are moving from a ‘print to warehouse’ to a ‘print to order, direct to consumer’ model, partnering with our print providers.”

Ashford is adding the double-width press in a new digital area set up to handle the Pearson work. It is already a user of HP’s PageWide technology with T210 series series machines, using HDNA heads to establish the quality and colour capability of the inkjet technology. The new machine is twice the web width and will deliver two streams of books for finishing in Tecnau variable book lines able to deliver book of one on the fly, automatically adjusting for spine width as well as trim sizes.

Ashford Colour Press managing director Rob Hutcheson says: “HP Piazza has enabled us to change the conversation and to offer solutions that have a direct impact on the publisher’s bottom line, improving their profitability and efficiency. Piazza is a game changer for Ashford in that we can expand our focus on supply chain initiatives and now offer true print to order and book of one manufacturing. Today we are receiving hundreds of direct orders for titles stored in the Piazza repository, producing thousands of books, all printed to fulfil orders that the publisher has received rather than to meet forecast sales.”

HP believes that by exploiting cloud technology it has created a scaleable solution to the print on demand dilemma. Other approaches have been built around server based storage at the print production site, limiting the flexibility of the solution. Once freed from this, a publisher using Piazza will be able to direct production orders to the print location that is best suited, by capability or geography, to produce a book.

While the receiving company has to operate with SiteFlow to manage the flow of single-product orders, an HP press, either PageWide inkjet or Indigo, is not necessary. The file will be optimised for the profile of the press and paper used as part of the automated production flow as well as making on the fly adjustments to suit local markets, say selecting different cover artwork or covers with a fold out flap which work in certain countries.

The launch at the London Book Fair ends a journey which started at Drupa where a number of printers and publishers were invited to an initial presentation and invited to participate in development of what has now become Piazza.

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Ashford HP

Ashford HP

Ashford Colour Press is pioneering the use of HP's Piazza digital print production platform in conjunction with Pearson. In order to cope with growth in print output it is installing an HP T410 web press.

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