For Wilmot-Budgen, a Surrey-based printer specialising in retail point-of-sale production, outstanding print quality is essential to its customer base of leading High Street brands, so it was important to them to have a robust long-term solution for their business as their wide format printers aged.
The Inca Onset R50i wide-format printer had been installed at Wilmot-Budgen for five years, initially acquiring the equipment through Fujifilm in 2015. The Onset range was suited to Wilmot-Budgen’s digital requirements, and it was the Onset’s key selling points including on-board nozzle mapping, exceptional print reliability, and flexibility around consumables and maintenance management that clinched the deal over the competition.
As the R50i was approaching six years installed, Wilmot-Budgen were aware of the upcoming end of support on a few component parts and as with any paid for asset, the business began to consider their options. The possibility of a new machine was on the table, and certainly something that Wilmot-Budgen was contemplating. However, Wilmot-Budgen are all about adding value based on quality, so when the investment choice was more speed for the same quality in a newer, faster model, the business questioned, was this really the best way to go? Peter Burford, Operations Director, Wilmot-Budgen, explains: “We had to look at what a new machine would mean for us – we thought about the Onset X3 from Inca. I think it's fair to say that the main difference there is speed increase, and there wasn’t really a need for us to make use of the highest speed.”
Fortunately for Wilmot-Budgen, Inca offered a solution that was better suited to their needs which has not only allowed them to retain their high levels of product and print quality, but also marked the beginning of the relationship between the two companies that will enable Inca to continue providing support, upgrades, additional hardware components, and higher quality print modes. Wilmot-Budgen opted for an End of Support upgrade that essentially transformed the Onset R50i into an Onset X2, the first project of this kind carried out by Inca. Peter Burford continues: “After only having dealt with Fujifilm, we started speaking directly to Inca about the possibility of refurbishing the machine to extend its life. We knew that parts of it were mechanically sound but that some parts would become difficult or worse still not be able to be supported and as we were happy with the quality and speed, we wanted our already paid for asset to last for potentially another five or so years.”
The upgrade avenue also made sense from a financial perspective, factoring in Wilmot-Budgen’s return on investment and the equipment’s total cost of ownership. With their existing Onset machine bought and paid for, the investment was significantly less than it would have been to take on a brand new, piece of kit. Plans to bring more of their outsourced litho lamination in-house in the future meant a refurbishment at this point, with an eye on the right piece of equipment to meet their long-term goals when necessary, was undoubtedly the prudent economic choice for Wilmot-Budgen. Inca understood this as a crucial factor, working with the team to accommodate their exact requirements.
The next step was to manage the upgrade process, and time was of the essence due to the Onset’s vital role in Wilmot-Budgen’s production. “The project itself went really well,” Peter Burford describes. “There was a definite commitment from Inca’s side to get it done and get it back up and running, given that it is one our most important production devices. We went up to Inca’s demonstration facility in Cambridge and were able to use that machine for production, which was great. The guys were very focused, worked over the weekends, and got us back up and running bang on the schedule they provided us.”
Now that Wilmot-Budgen’s production floor mainstay has been refurbished and upgraded by Inca, along with some added benefits. Peter Burford says: “We typically ran most jobs in eight-pass prior to the upgrade, and now we're running the majority of jobs in six-pass, so we have seen the speed increase as well. We're also not having to do the additional cure passes now, so that's been beneficial. Before when we had the two curing passes, six-pass was eight-pass and eight was ten in gloss mode, and we run a lot of stuff in gloss.” We have pretty much doubled our productivity capability from around 300 to 350sqm/hour up to 700sqm/hour.
Since the refurbishment, the Onset in its new ‘X’ form is at its productive best, and well-suited to the company’s more complex projects. Peter Burford says: “The company's evolved a little bit since we started producing digital, and different markets have opened up such as floor graphics, which we sometimes do on the Inca. The typical Wilmot-Budgen cardboard thing has definitely evolved since we've had the Inca and a couple of other machines.
“Often we'll get a campaign that requires different printed elements, and what we are able to do now with that multipurpose ink is bring some of the substrates in-line, and print them on the same device, which might mean we have a free standing display unit alongside a floor sticker for example, and you're pretty much guaranteed if you print the job on the same machine to get similar results, so it’s much easier to control.” Production manager John Mullarkey adds: “We had a recent job that had probably seven different materials, and I think barring one they were all produced on the Inca.”
Proposing the End of Support upgrade option required Inca to have a comprehensive understanding of Wilmot-Budgen’s current needs and long-terms goals, which not only allowed Inca to advise them on whether the process was right for them, it will also facilitate a lasting relationship between the two organisations with Inca able to provide ongoing support and guidance when required. As a growing number of global businesses express interest in the upgrade option, Inca’s focus on robust and longstanding customer relationships will serve as a cornerstone of the End of Support service’s success.
John Mullarkey concludes: “Inca wanted to help us with our problem. Since then, we have built up a relationship with the engineers, phone support, and other members of the Inca team, and it feels like, we have got a relationship, we can the pick-up the phone and if we've got a problem, Inca will help us out. As a company, that is what we need, especially as the machine is a very important part of the business. We had a problem, and ultimately it was Inca that stepped in and solved it.”