ipia news & comment

IPIA news: Duplo supports printers to seize opportunity

Peter Martyr, Directors of GP Print (Left), has praised Duplo for enabling the business to increase its productivity and energy efficiency while reducing significant production overheads.

Author: Brendan Perring, IPIA. January 17th, 2023.

The print industry in the UK has an immense wealth of opportunity before it as digital fatigue* continues to climb and print buyers – from your local retail chain through to corporate brands – look for ways to differentiate their marketing and cut through to engage target markets. One of the most significant challenges that print businesses face in capitalising on this opportunity is the cost of energy, among a number of growing overhead pressures.

To tackle this issue, print finishing technology developer Duplo has strengthened its support for customers by accelerating its development of technology and resources that assist printers in reducing their energy consumption.

The scale of the challenge ahead was set out by Bill Bullen, Utilita Chief Executive, when speaking to BBC Today. The company supplies around 800,000 companies in the UK, and his warning was clear: “Pre this crisis, energy (gas prices) were about 50p per therm, and you are certainly not seeing prices down below 100p per therm until 2026 at the very earliest – so we have a long way to go yet before we get through this energy crisis.”

When questioned about whether the growth of the renewable energy market could see an alleviation of price rises, he commented: “There is a particular issue around renewables and how it is priced in the wholesale market […], because prices tend to be driven by the marginal costs of fossil fuels and then we pay a subsidy on top of that. What we are actually seeing is renewable plants in the UK basically making huge profits at this moment in time.”

Duplo International’s Showroom Manager Neil Scott spends every day speaking to both prospective and current customers, and he emphasises that energy efficiency is a key priority for them, explaining: “Our customers are generally driven toward our solutions with efficiency in mind. Everything within the trade is seeing regular cost increases – whether it is transportation costs, the cost of utilities, consumables, or paper – is having a detrimental effect on both available margins as well as the ability to remain competitive in the market.

“Duplo can see the importance of both automation and energy efficiency to try and help balance this and we are working hard to support the industry as much as possible.”

Rising to the challenge

Articulating how Duplo is rising to meet these trends, its UK Managing Director Martyn Train expands: “Over the last few months, the team and I have undergone an intensive programme to catalogue the energy efficiency of our multi-finisher range. It’s been important that we can highlight to customers these energy rating in terms that they can easily understand.

“No one has done this for the print industry and we’re hoping that printers can use this campaign to both plan their own energy consumption requirements but also make decisions on their next investments.”

A key drive for Duplo as a print finishing technology developer has always been to make its equipment as efficient as possible and reduce wastage, while continuing to improve its productivity and ease of use.

The technology developer is now applying even greater research and development resources in this area, with Neil highlighting the specific implications of its approach: “Using automation, especially on our DC multi-finisher range, allows different jobs to be processed very efficiently. This in conjunction with the low level of energy consumption of the systems, means that we can process a broad spectrum of applications on a single machine, with an incredibly small footprint, powered from a standard 13A socket. With traditional finishing solutions, potentially large, inefficient, and power hungry, can be replaced saving both energy and space.”

B2 application


A crease in time saves nine

Duplo’s underlying technology development philosophy is focused on the knock-on effect of bringing a host of finishing solutions into a single easy to use machine – which means that operator costs and time on training can be drastically reduced.

Martyn emphasises that being able to reduce these overheads is thus a subsequent way to mitigate the pressure from areas such as increased energy costs: “This is all good for our customers. An example of this is from The Imaging Centre. They are running an old DC-745 and three DC-746, one of which is integrated into our new DC-20K B2 cutting system.

“They’ve moved away from having to guillotine hundreds of thousands of sheets of greetings cards and process everything through the multi-finishers. This has allowed them to move to a four-day week, both reducing energy costs as well as consolidating the workforce and making their entire work flow as efficient as possible.”

Indeed, Duplo’s multi-finishers have been developed to allow you to achieve four finishing processes in one pass, and they are also a cost-effective solution because of their low energy usage. All of its DC-systems, running for the entire day will cost a maximum of 91p per in energy day (based on 4 jobs over an 8hr day**).

In a typical 8-hour day looking at 4 common jobs** (2 hours per job) a DC system can run up to ten thousand SRA3 sheets and cost you no more than 12p per hour in energy. For example, this is 5p less than if you were to vacuum your home for one hour.

Martyn continues: “We inspect every machine that’s leaves our doors going to each customer to check the consistent quality of the machines. Our technical team are constantly researching better components that will help the maintenance of the machines themselves and prolong their lifecycle.

“Many customers still have seven- or eight-year-old multi-finishers and we still have a number of 15-year-old second generation booklet makers that are in constant use. With good preventative maintenance and regular servicing our machines can handle the most rigorous of commercial environments.”

Another fundamental area of focus for Duplo is the durability and build quality of its systems, with Martyn highlighting that every component from rollers to diodes is constantly reviewed and improved to ensure its technology is evolving to “offer the best balance of quality and efficiency available.”

Honing a competitive edge

The print industry has had to contend with a rapidly evolving landscape of demand for its products and services over the last decade, and with that has come the need for finishing technology that can handle ever-increasing numbers of tight turnaround and variable short-runs. Now with the cost of energy thrown into this mix, it has driven a need for systems that are not just flexible, but highly-automated and efficient.

Neil highlights in particular how smaller printer businesses among its customers are adapting to achieve growth and retain their competitiveness: “In the current climate I believe that automation and efficiency are right at the top of the list, especially for the smaller printers out there.

“The big players within the industry are only there thanks to embracing these opportunities as they have developed, but we are seeing much smaller businesses recognising the value and necessity of this technology to remain competitive as well as futureproofing their investments.”

Martyn is also passionate about the contribution Duplo is making to the health of its customer’s businesses, concluding: “Many of our customers used the pandemic to move to a more automated finishing process. We found that the combination of having to put staff on furlough, but still having to process and finish orders, meant that Duplo automation was could really help them keep their doors open.

“GP Print, a strong user of our entire range of finishing equipment went from having ten staff to just four. But through automation and linking their multi-finishers, booklet system and digital cutting system with Ultimate Impostrip, they grew more productive with less staff. This allowed them to expand using new strategies, and more importantly bring in new business.”

While the pressures facing print businesses are likely to remain present for the foreseeable future, key to overcoming them effectively is seizing the opportunities presented by a growth in demand from major print buying markets. Duplo believes passionately that it can assist print businesses in doing just that – both through delivering business intelligence, and technology that has been developed to specifically address these varied challenges.

Martyn Train

Martyn Train, Duplo UK, Managing Director is passionate about harnessing the resources of the company to alleviate overheads pressures on its customers and helping them to achieve growth.

The DC-20K cutting system follows Duplo’s ‘load it and leave’ approach by removing the bottleneck to production and physical effort required when relying on a guillotine. This has allowed The Imagining Centre to reduce its staffing and energy usage costs

Output from the Duplo DC-20K: The technology development is driven to help customers increase their margins on tight turnaround short runs

Duplo can see the importance of both automation and energy efficiency to try and help balance this and we are working hard to support the industry as much as possible

Contact Duplo to request a demo to talk to one of its specialists about how you can reduce your energy consumption and reduce your overheads through efficient workflow automation:

* Digital fatigue is a form of mental exhaustion which occurs after an intense amount of screen time

**8-hour day is based on 4 common jobs, 2hrs each; business cards A4 2pp, A5 2pp, A44pp. 20p per KWh. DC-20K not included on energy consumption statistics.

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