After 50 years in business, Optichrome is one print service provider that has not only successfully operated through some difficult years, but is stronger and more focused than ever before. The company will also tell you that one of its first suppliers was Kodak and that the relationship is now a partnership which provides them with support, consultancy and innovative technologies. At a recent Open Day at the company’s premises in Woking, there was a positive atmosphere and birthday feel with balloons, cake and a large photograph of all the staff celebrating fifty years in business. A steady stream of associates, partners and visitors attended the day which was highlighted with guided tours of the premises and the presentation of a specially commissioned portrait of Ted Stephens, founder and owner who passed away earlier this year.
Optichrome is one of Kodak’s longest standing customers and its use of Kodak’s wide range of products has underpinned continued business success. In 2013, the company is using two KODAK NEXPRESS Digital Production Color Press, a KODAK DIGIMASTER EX150 Digital Production System, a KODAK MAGNUS Q800 Platesetter, imaging KODAK ELECTRA XD Thermal Plates, all driven by a KODAK PRINERGY Workflow System with the KODAK INSITE Prepress Portal System. Optichrome utilises the full suite of KODAK Products and Services to support its customers’ needs and also develop new business. The company’s strategy has always been to address market trends and it now offer a full cross-media service built on its data management expertise. Ted Stephens also founded and developed the Management Information System (MIS) company Optimus. This product was one of the first MIS systems for the management and control of print production.
Matt Burford, Optichrome Technical and Quality Assurance Director tells us, “Our expertise and understanding of data management has given us significant advantages when it comes to a cross-media offering. It is the quality of the data working with KODAK Unified Workflow Solutions that allows us to manage and drive our business forward. We find that customers today are looking for a complete service and expectations are rising.” Optichrome now offers its customer base a complete cross-media portfolio of full-colour, personalised prints as well as direct mail campaigns, email marketing and data management.
Burford goes on to explain, “KODAK PRINERGY Rules-Based Automation Software is integrated throughout our print production process to streamline and automate the process chains. We create the rule at the start of the job, determining which substrate, quantity, etc. By assigning pre-determined steps for a job, we can meet each customer’s individual needs based on a variety of requirements such as the run length, type of imposition required, the approval cycles and the output device. These conditions determine what will happen on each job and each set of rules can be repeated again and again so our customers can have consistency and reliability on repeat or regular jobs.”
Natalie Stephens, Optichrome's Director of Marketing, with a Kodak Nexpress Digital Color Press
KODAK PRINERGY Rules-Based Automation Software picks up a JDF template eliminating all operator intervention. This gives Optichrome the control and confidence to deliver a cost-effective job across multiple devices simply and quickly, with a twenty minute make ready time to deliver extremely high-resolution and consistent output on press. It is a quality result, whether using the KODAK MAGNUS Q800 Platesetter imaging KODAK ELECTRA XD Thermal Plates or the KODAK NEXPRESS Press. Burford says, “The MAGNUS Platesetter imaging ELECTRA XD Plates delivers high levels of colour control and sharp detail in both AM and FM applications. We use the Electra XD plates from Kodak in B1 size for our Roland 700 presses and B2 size for our Heidelberg Speedmaster. On average we are using 200 B1 plates and 100 B2 plates per week. We are now planning the next step to invest in KODAK COLORFLOW Software with Ink Optimisation. This will help us achieve colour consistency across all devices and branded products – a ‘must have’ in 2013.”
The KODAK NEXPRESS Press at Optichrome prints sheets with a bar code to control integrity and security. The bar coding is a strategic part of the business operation and controls the quality of the end product. The bar code makes sure that all pages are in sequence and in the correct format. At the time of the online ordering, the data and the rule are linked to the bar code in the system which is checked at the end of the process before fulfilment and delivery. This offers completely automated quality control and an assurance of customer satisfaction, especially for financial documentation and transactional documents.
“Optichrome utilises the KODAK NEXPRESS Press for shorter run high quality work. For example, it regularly uses the digital colour press to print runs of up to 2,000 copies of a high quality glossy brochure fully personalised with variable data and proofed with KODAK MATCHPRINT Virtual Proofing System. The KODAK NEXPRESS Press is also used for sophisticated direct mail pieces as part of cross-media targeted campaigns. Marketing agencies benefiting from Optichrome’s data management skills can achieve significant response rates from a range of targeted communications working together, including emails and social media messaging alongside the printed mailer.
“The KODAK NEXPRESS Digital Production Color Press is a superior digital press for superior quality work,” states Burford. “Direct Mail is big business and this market is full of designers competing to achieve that ‘striking mailer’ which will give the highest response rates. KODAK NEXPRESS HD Dry Inks are the very best and help to give us a product very close in quality to litho. Using the KODAK NEXPRESS Fifth Imaging Unit Solutions on the press with dimensional inks help us to add value to the printed piece and extend the range of products we can offer. We are able to differentiate the results with additional clear coating or spot colours for sophisticated effects on different substrates. Our customers are showing significant interest in the creativity of the products produced on this machine.”
Many of Optichrome's customers now prefer to order stock items online knowing they can trust the system. Customers such as universities and colleges can order a regular supply of course leaflets online favouring this convenient process and timely delivery. With KODAK INSITE Prepress Portal System connecting to the front end, a customer’s job can be monitored from start to finish giving each customer a comfort factor. Financial Institutions require the use of the KODAK DIGIMASTER EX150 Digital Production System for black and white transactional documents alongside the KODAK NEXPRESS Press for bulk pension scheme certificates. For these and other complex documents, Optichrome can utilise both Kodak’s black and white and colour presses.
Olivier Claude, General Manager for Print & Vice President Commercial Business EAMER, Kodak concludes, “The KODAK Equipment, Optichrome uses day to day, is fundamental to the company’s latest business model. The KODAK PRINERGY Workflow is at the core of its daily operation driving jobs to multiple devices. With our tools, Optichrome can deliver an individual tailored service to companies from a variety of sectors – pharmaceutical, finance, food and retail. From online ordering at the front end, KODAK Unified Workflow Solutions are instrumental in supporting Optichrome's cross-media offering.
Matt Burford has the final word, “Past and present, Kodak has been and still is the ideal partner. The company's first-class equipment and software support our company's vision. We are working together on this latest cross-media strategy to develop and ensure the success of our business for the future.”