26 February 2018 xDigital Printing Technologies

XIC builds future on foundation of Ricoh technology

Ricoh's approach to digital printing, reliability and added value, appealed to Murray Alexander when XIC realised it needed a fundamental change to its business.

Aberdeen, more than any other British city, has been transformed by the oil industry. The exploitation of North Sea oil and gas fields meant good times for any business servicing the needs of the offshore energy sector and that included XIC, a printer which enjoyed a good reputation among these clients.

So when the boom came to an abrupt end in October 2014, XIC needed to transform itself and fast. “The volumes came down and we knew we had to diversify,” says managing director Murray Alexander.

It had both litho and digital presses and needed to find new customers to keep these turning, It had a bank of litho machines to run small format work and five-colour B2 press for longer run colour work. Only this machine remains. It had also been printing with digital presses for 20 years, but now needed to offer more than it had been doing.

The new strategy emphasised the company’s design and creative skills. Says Alexander: “We went after more creative led work, something that is out of the norm.” This in turn put a strain on the digital print technology it had. Alexander went looking at the available options.

“We had no particular appetite for change. In fact we had an excellent relationship with our existing supplier. Nonetheless for due diligence and market comparison we did review other suppliers and products,” he says.

That led to Ricoh. And appetite whetted, XIC visited the Customer Experience Centre in Telford and a range of customers already using Ricoh equipment across Scotland. “What attracted us to Ricoh wasn’t just the quality of its digital technology, it was Ricoh’s understanding of the market and the pressures we faced. Ricoh has a very good grasp of the demands and needs of the production print and commercial print sector,” says Alexander.

The quality of the equipment fitted the bill as well as the potential it offered to enable the diversification that the company was looking for. “What Ricoh offered fitted our vision and promised to address a lot of challenges we faced and we felt that the whole Ricoh package would deliver more value overall,” says Alexander.

Customer visits were a crucial part of the process. “We could speak with production managers and that helped provide the confidence for our decision as well,” he says.

That decision led to installation of a Pro C9100, Pro C7100, Pro C9110, Pro C8120 and following up with a Pro L4160 large format latex inkjet printer which arrived last summer. Linking it all is a production print software network. It is backed up by a four-hour response from Ricoh's engineers, a vital part of the mix for fast turnaround print.

All jobbing style work, once meat and drink to Heidelberg GTO and Printmaster presses, is now produced on the Ricohs particularly work that is needed overnight. Here the reliability of the presses is critical to produce time critical tenders, or work that has to be delivered by boat or aircraft to its final destination. This place a priority on local support and service, though, says Alexander, “the equipment is so reliable we haven’t had to use it much”.

Equally, however, the versatility of the equipment has enabled the company to expand the kinds of products it can create thanks to an expanded range of substrates and range of paper weights. It will also handle banner lengths with ease. “These are possibilities that we did not have before, at least not in a reliable robust way,” he says.

The digital presses can easily accommodate variable data printing, where required though the marketers in the area are not yet demanding sophisticated variable data, Alexander explains. “We chose the Ricoh kit because we felt it was most suitable for our needs. We wanted to get the most reliable equipment and the most versatile to be able to offer something a little different.”

It is working. XIC in two years has become used to these capabilities and is looking to expand. First came the wide format latex inkjet printer, next comes extended colours. “Our next intention is to go down the five-colour route,” he says.

The oil industry may be much reduced, but Aberdeen itself is rapidly evolving into a creative hub to rival Edinburgh and Glasgow. XIC, with the support of Ricoh, is moving along the same path.

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Aberdeen has changed

Aberdeen has changed

XIC responded to the rapid shrinkage of the oil industry in Aberdeen in 2014 by expanding its creative work, adding design and looking for clients from the creative sector. At the same time it needed to invest in technology that enabled this transformation, resulting in establishing a partnership with Ricoh.

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