Arnold & Wessels has doubled its turnover since buying the Xerox X700DCP digital colour press just over a year ago from Bytes Document Solutions, authorised Xerox distributor in 26 sub-Saharan countries, and a division of Bytes Technology Group, wholly owned by JSE-listed Altron.
The print shop, established in Klerksdorp in 1948, has been transformed in that two-thirds of its output is now produced on digital machines by only three people (two graphic artists and a printer operator) while the rest of its 12 employees are dedicated to finishing and to the litho side of the business.
“I knew I had to upgrade by replacing old litho machines, and replacing a DC250 with the X700DCP, simply to keep up with technology and I have been astonished at the sheer speed of the Xerox X700DCP. It’s been running like a dream, which puts me ahead of my competition due to better productivity and lower click costs per month,” says owner Chris van Eeden.
The digital department now consists of the XEROX 700 DCP, a XEROX DC250 and a XEROX 4112. Van Eeden credits Paul Haglich from Bytes Document Solutions with his desire to keep up with the latest technology.
“In 2007, he invited me along to the DRUPA trade show in Dusseldorf. It was a road to Damascus experience for me. It opened this Klerksdorp boy’s eyes to what is possible, even though my business is on the platteland.
“The technology allows me to deliver top-quality printing at short notice, which means locals and customers from all over the North West Province are using my services for their important print jobs, rather than going to bigger centres.”
As a lifelong litho artisan and current MAPPSETA accredited training facility, Van Eeden remains amazed at how easy it is to produce a print job on the X700DCP.
“I’ve been in printing my whole life. I’m used to having to create film on an image setter first, burn plates, develop them, machine set-up, the whole bang shoot. It takes time, and then at that stage, you still don’t have anything to show. Whether you do a print run of 50 or 100 or 1 000 on a litho machine, it takes about the same time, because of the preparatory work.
“The X700DCP quickly delivers what my clients want. In fact, two- or three-colour jobs are now too much of a schlep to do on my litho machines, so we push them through the digital machine – even though we do not make much of a margin on longer runs.
“It keeps the customer happy because we can deliver at short notice. For a medium-sized printing business like mine, it’s significantly easier to print digitally – it really does pay for itself.”
Arnold & Wessels added photo books, puzzles, personalised calendars, personalised annual reports and other projects that were not possible with litho to its product line-up after purchasing the X700, resulting in additional revenue streams.
Van Eeden says the X700 has forced him to make other changes in his business too. “We’ve had to increase finishing staff because we’re now printing so fast that the bottleneck is on the finishing side, not on the printing side.”
This is because, beside the new product lines, the X700 has enabled people who would previously not have bought anything from Arnold & Wessels to use the print shop’s services.
“For instance, schools have tighter budgets so they can’t do large runs on school yearbooks anymore. We can now allow schools an initial print run of 50 or fewer. I no longer have to insist on a minimum quantity to make the run profitable. Therefore, more people are now printing because they’re able to take a smaller, affordable, print run.”
Doubling its turnover has placed Arnold & Wessels in a position to purchase a second X700. “Developing the Web-to-print market is our next big step, again made possible by the X700.”
This solution allows customers to place their print orders via an online interface (developed by Bytes Document Solutions), sign off the job online and have their completed print jobs delivered, without ever having to set foot out of their offices.
“Once those volumes start building, we will need either a higher volume machine like the Xerox 1000 or a second X700DCP. I would rather have two X700s so that we would be able to run jobs simultaneously, allowing me to serve two clients at the same time.
“Plus two machines would give us redundancy in case anything does go wrong. Not that I’m expecting anything to go wrong – the X700 is virtually maintenance-free,” Van Eeden says.