Based across two East Midlands sites, ADS2 Brands is one of the oldest and largest producers of beer dispenser fonts, taps and handles in the world. ADS2 Longborough, located in Sandy, Bedfordshire is the print division of the business and in the past eighteen months, two Fujifilm Acuity Select flatbeds – with Uvijet KV inks in a CMYK plus two white channels configuration – have revolutionised its production of optical logos and changeable beer font shrouds for some of the biggest beverage brands in the world, including Tennent’s, Stella Artois, Heineken and many others.
“We produce all of the elements needed for the draft font you see in a bar, restaurant, night club or a ‘pop-up’ bar at festivals or events,” explains Dan Wilce, printing manager, ADS2 Longborough. “These include illuminated font shrouds, optical logos and the draft font handles themselves.”
ADS2 Brands’ first Acuity Select investment in the summer of 2016 brought immediate benefits. “The methods we previously used for producing both the shrouds and the optical logos were complex, time-intensive and expensive,” says Wilce. “We had to print the shrouds initially onto clear film – very slowly to ensure the requisite quality and density of colour – and then back them up with white self-adhesive vinyl before thermoforming and trimming. The printing process for the optical logos was equally slow, as we had to use a special adhesion primer and we experienced very high wastage due to static issues.
“The Acuity Select revolutionised the whole process. We slashed our typical turnaround times from four weeks to one, cut our per-unit production costs by more than 60 per cent, massively increased our capacity for large orders, and substantially reduced our waste. Not only that, it allowed us to add another string to our bow with the ability to print ultra-short run lengths. Our shroud and optical logo production processes are both now far more straight-forward, as well as being faster and less labour-intensive. Wastage is down thanks to better static control and the quality is excellent – even though we’re printing at a much higher speed.”
Wilce has been equally impressed with the inks: “Fujifilm’s Uvijet KV inks are perfect for thermoforming, they’re extremely high-quality and incredibly robust. We’ve had no issues with cracking and our customers have been delighted with the quality. One of our major clients even won a design award in Scotland thanks in part to our work for them.
“At the time of the first Acuity installation we were looking to fill an order for 5,000 units for a major brewery customer. Using our previous printing processes we would have struggled to deliver this. Now, a year and half later, we’ve delivered more than 14,000 units to that customer and are working on 2,000 more.”
With the original Acuity Select running at full capacity, ADS2 Brands invested in a second press in the summer of 2017 to boost the business still further. “Having created and then filled a lot of extra capacity, it made sense to invest in a second press rather than outsource the additional work that was coming our way,” Wilce continues. “We have a huge range of large brewers among our clients and a second press has enabled us to offer the same high quality products at high speed to all of them, as well as giving us the opportunity to branch out into the water dispenser and soft drinks markets to a much greater extent.
“Fujifilm has been fantastic to work with right from the start,” concludes Wilce. “We have bought inks from them in the past – so we had some history with the company – but we hadn’t invested in Fujifilm hardware before. They have been attentive and very quick to respond to problems or questions, while the presses themselves have been great to work with. Downtime has been minimal, meaning that we have been able to use them to their full potential.”