Ancient House Printing Group, a family owned business based in Ipswich, was first established in 1845 as a book-selling and printing business in the historic building known as 'The Ancient House'. Rapid expansion saw the company divest the book-selling business, and then in 1985 move to its existing premises on an industrial estate just outside Ipswich where it is now spread over two buildings.
Always eager to remain up-to-date with the latest technologies, the company boasts two Komori 16-page, 5-unit web presses, a 12-colour Mitsubishi Tandem Perfector, a 10-colour KBA Rapida press, as well as an extensive finishing department that runs 24 hours-a-day, 6-days-a-week. With an annual turnover of £15 million and 100 employees, Ancient House is one of the biggest commercial printers in East Anglia. Its customers include various government departments as well as a number of well-known high street names.
Paul Sadler, operations director at Ancient House, works hard to implement any necessary changes for the company so that it can remain at the cutting edge. Significant amongst these is ISO 14001 certification gained in 2007, a standard that customers continue to demand and that has had a positive impact throughout the business. Amongst the changes implemented, the company has established a no-alcohol policy in the pressroom, installed a waste extraction system to process paper and other waste for recycling, installed low-energy lighting throughout the premises and contracted certified hazardous waste specialists who operate solvent recovery equipment to remove all liquid waste.
The decision to eliminate alcohol usage on all presses was part of the company's drive to switch to a greener way of working. Paul comments: "It is important to us that Ancient House is as environmentally responsible as possible and it was clear that our customers wanted us to reduce or eliminate alcohol usage on our presses."
Saving the day
With excellent customer service and quick turnaround times also a key priority, the company faced a dilemma when it ran out of blanket wash for its web press in March 2009.
Paul explains: "We urgently needed blanket wash to complete a job on schedule. Our supplier at the time was unable to address the problem immediately, so we turned to Fujifilm for help and were very impressed at their response to our request, as the wash was on its way to us almost immediately. This prompted us to visit Fujifilm's distribution facilities, which allowed us to see first hand how efficient their operation is and how they can offer such good customer service, which resulted in us placing an order for fount solutions as well."
He continues: "Immediately after we started using Fujifilm's PRESSMAX founts on our web and sheetfed presses, our make-ready times shortened by about 20%, which means that we are now making considerable savings on ink and paper with every job, not to mention waste. We have also noticed a considerable improvement in the quality of the print we can now produce – sharper and consistently good."
Alcohol-free printing often means less consistency and stability during print runs, but Paul says this is not the case on the Ancient House presses: "We needed the best alcohol-free fount and wash to ensure we could offer the same high quality print that we always have. Fujifilm's PRESSMAX founts make it easy for us to achieve the same printing conditions as if we were printing with alcohol. We are extremely impressed with Fujifilm's pressroom consumables and are confident that we now offer a better quality and more consistent product to our customers."
Fujifilm's PRESSMAX range of pressroom solutions has been designed specifically with environmental benefits in mind, while still reducing costs and improving press performance, efficiency and print quality. The alcohol-free, FOGRA-approved, FountMax founts used by Ancient House maximise print quality while minimising downtime, wastage and running costs. PRESSMAX washes are compatible with conventional, UV and hybrid inks and can be used for both manual and automatic cleaning. Containing corrosion protection additives to maximise press life and productivity, they offer higher cleaning efficiency and VOC-free working environments.
Paul adds: "We are very impressed with Fuji's founts and washes and are so confident in the product that we are now actively testing the driers on our latest web presses to confirm compatibility with the wash. This goes to show just how much of an impact the Fujifilm products have had on our business, as these tests are both time consuming and costly."
So where to next?
Having recently expanded its production to accommodate a new web press with automatic stacking, as well as improve the handling area, Paul knows that he must also keep digital options in mind: "The challenges we face are to stay relevant and keep up with this internet-dominated world. As part of our ongoing digital project, we will soon re-examine our studio to look at any potential changes we can make. As usual, we will put the same amount of research and testing into this project as we have done with everything we look to purchase."
Development and community outreach
"Our staff have always been very loyal to the business, proven by our very low staff turnover, and we feel it is important to expand their knowledge. Although a great number of our staff already have over 25 year experience, we are continuously offering further training and development which enables them to work in different parts of the business," says Paul.
Ancient House also plays a very active role in the community by offering local students the opportunity to follow an apprenticeship programme in order to complete their NVQ. The company also keenly supports the PrintIT! initiative, which aims to develop young students' knowledge of print and promote the industry as a career route.
Paul concludes: "Ancient House has the opportunity for development and expansion in the coming years and we constantly look for ways to make the company more efficient and environmentally sound. Fujifilm made it possible – even easy – for us to offer a high quality product to our customers and we look forward to building on this relationship in the future."