REAL Digital may not have been an overnight success, but it’s not been far from it.
Now just two and a half years since opening its Croydon factory, the company is turning over in excess of £12m and has won a reputation as one of the UK’s most innovative digital print outfits. Specialising in offering high volume personalised printing contracts, the company handles a broad range of projects involving high volume data and imagery matching, which are reliant on a fool-proof integrity process provided by Lake Image Systems.
The vast factory now includes an impressive and diverse range of hardware including two REAL Digital inkjet presses which the company developed itself. Uniquely, they offer a continuous pinless duplex line that takes plain mill reels and can produce individual pages at a rate of 12,000 full colour A4s per hour. In addition, there are five iGen3 as well as various other Xerox machines, numerous W+D inserters and collators and almost 100 Lake Image cameras. Capacity is huge and the factory is regularly turning out between 8 and 10 million fully personalised A4 items each and every month of the year – the majority of which are scrutinised at one stage or another by Lake Image Systems’ IntegraVision system.
IntegraVision systems read 2-D barcodes on each document as it passes through the press, stitcher, collator or inserter lines and matches each individual element in a multi-part mailer or print job item to ensure 100% integrity. In many cases the campaigns include sensitive or personal data and any error, omission or duplication in print or collation could have serious implications not only for the individual being mailed, but also for REAL Digital’s customers and the company itself.
“Flawless execution is the name of the game,” says David Laybourne the Managing Director of REAL Digital, “quality of print, completeness, accuracy and speed are what we are driving for with every one of the 100s of jobs we run monthly and Lake Image is a key part of delivering that. Lake Image provides both us and our customers with confidence that content matching is always totally reliable.”
REAL Digital runs work in batches and in sequence so Lake Image added new functionality to IntegraVision to ensure sequence checking at the end of lines to identify and manage any duplicate or missing packs.
Dean Gozmao, Enclosing Manager, commented: “I’ve used other camera systems in the past but Lake Image is both easier to use and more sophisticated, and speed is only limited by the line they’re installed on. Being able to flick between camera stations easily is a nice feature and certainly saves time.”
Lake Image engineers worked with REAL Digital to add specific functionality to IntegraVision to ensure that different colours and content are matched correctly. Other software tools include Address Masking through to File Audit, which verifies all documents against the original print file. In addition, Lake Image now offers the IVServe which provides network connectivity to multiple IntegraVision solutions, IVServe will identify and audit documents for jobs shared over more than one machine.
REAL Digital has a clear duty to safeguard the data it holds for its customers and is scrupulous about compliance with all data protection regulations. Physical security at the factory is similarly impressive with a series of biometric door locks throughout the premises restricting employee and visitor access as appropriate. As REAL Digital has an increasing number of customers in the Financial Services sector and is anticipating ongoing growth in the transpromo market, this will remain an area of future investment no doubt.
Clearly, successful campaigns can take months to build and often include input from everyone from the customer insight expert to the call centre team. However, according to David Laybourne, printers are often not involved until it’s time for a quote. “Our team has extensive experience in developing successful customer loyalty programmes. We feel we can add huge value to customers if we’re involved in the early stages of campaign development. Often we can suggest approaches that may have been overlooked or are simply new to customers who haven’t worked with us before. Personalisation techniques can be profoundly powerful, but there’s a danger of becoming ‘data obsessed’ and overlooking a technological approach that can deliver better results.”
“We process some important applications for the NHS,” states David. “One, the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, is Europe’s largest public screening programme, affecting males and females between the ages of 60 and 69 and requires the utmost integrity. We produce about 65,000 document sets comprising 4 pack types each week. The multiple components, especially the testing kits, are personalised to the recipient and NHS region to ensure that this highly sensitive communication can be camera matched, verified and inserted with total despatch accuracy. REAL digital has consistently enhanced the audit and verification process to ensure that as the pack formats become more sophisticated, the correct controls are in place.”
Another client, TUI, has worked with REAL Digital to maximise use of old customer data. The award winning ‘win back’ campaign is a series of subtle, but highly individualised, mailings which have generated bookings from customers who hadn’t holidayed with them in several years. REAL Digital manages a huge library of images of cruise ships, hotels and holiday destinations to represent the customers’ previous holiday choices and to propose this years’ offer. With such a high degree of personalisation, content integrity is key and the Lake Camera systems are used as a safety net to scan and validate the content of each colour printed. REAL Digital developed an online digital asset management system and worked closely with TUI and their agency to ensure that the data logic and output was controlled and processed in the most efficient manner.
REAL Digital is keen to maintain its market position as an innovator but believes that the key factor behind its business success has been the trust it has established with its customers. David Laybourne sums up: “Our reputation as a supplier who adds value is very precious to us, but above that we need to ensure that our customers’ trust in us is always justified. We in turn rely on our technology partners , like Lake Image, to deliver faultlessly too.”