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A fourth generation family-run business, Headley Brothers – founded in 1884 – has been ever-present in the print industry for over 130 years. A key factor in the Kent-based print service provider’s success and longevity has been its ability to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of the print industry ahead of the curve.
The company has come a long way since its origins as a producer of paper bags. Now a leading national magazine printer, it serves a core customer base of loyal publishers that produce weekly, fortnightly and monthly publications, as well as a host of other commercial print products.
Roger Pitt, the company’s CEO, explains the key to its success: “Progression is naturally perpetual. You can’t stand still for a second, especially in this industry. You need to continuously evaluate what your customers want and how you can address that across the entire business otherwise you will get left behind.”
It was this approach to business that saw Headley Brothers become one of the first UK printing companies to offer sheetfed, web and digital printing services under the one roof in 2004. Digital printing was a vital step, providing the company with the capability to address the latest market trends for shorter runs, print on demand and variable data printing.
“For us, being a forward-looking company means continuously reviewing and advancing our print production processes,” continues Pitt. “Pre-press has become more important than ever. By 2014, we knew we needed to enhance our capabilities further in that area to drive production efficiencies, optimise our workflow and streamline costs.”
Workflow automation was a natural next step for Pitt. He went to market, discussing numerous propositions with leading suppliers, determined to find the right solution and partner to take Headley Brother’s pre-press environment to the next level.
This strict criteria led him to Fujifilm and its comprehensive Superia solution, a customisable package of pre-press solutions that includes Fujifilm’s XMF Workflow, printing plates and other consumables.
“We have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Fujifilm, and place great trust in their products and people,” elaborates Pitt. “Fujifilm’s Superia package met our exacting demands, addressing our automation needs, increasing our plate imaging capability and helping us make essential water savings. The fact that it could be provided and serviced by one supplier – from plates to platesetters to workflow - was an added bonus.”
Headley Brothers replaced two manual CTP devices on its second plate production line with Fujifilm’s Screen Ultima 1600 II multi-format VLF thermal platesetter, including a scalable autoloader – a key element in efficient handling of large format plates. “We put the platesetters through some stringent tests and were impressed by the stability of the technology,” adds Pitt. “It also meant we could share the same plate material for our web and sheetfed machines, ensuring cross-line output consistency.”
The company also selected the water-saving option for its two existing Fujifilm FLH-Z ‘ZAC’ processors, which enabled it to reduce its water usage by 16 litres per plate produced, with projected savings of more than two million litres of water over the next five years. In addition, two XR-1200F developer waste reduction and re-use systems were installed with the processors to further reduce water usage as well as pre-press developer waste.
The investment also involved enhancing the company’s existing XMF Workflow production suite. XMF Remote was upgraded to HTML 5, meaning its customers no longer need to rely on Java-based applications to benefit from the online job submission and approval system. The colour management process was also upgraded via an investment in XMF ColorPath, a cloud-based system hosted by Fujifilm that allows calibration, ICC profiling and alignment to ISO 12647 for a wide range of print devices, as well as two Epson Stylus Pro proofers from Fujifilm.
“This investment completely automated our front-end systems, which has not only enabled us to be more efficient in our plate-making processes, but across the business as a whole – we’re now 30 per cent more efficient,” states Pitt.
He concludes: “Our focus on saving water demonstrates not only our move towards optimum production and cost-efficiency, but also our tireless commitment to reducing our environmental impact. Our ongoing partnership with Fujifilm ensures we continue to raise the bar and deliver the high quality products and service our customers expect. Fujifilm is not a ‘one night stand’ but a long-term relationship where both parties speak the same language and share the same vision for Headley Brothers’ future.”
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