FUJIFILM North America Corporation

Fujifilm Highlights Commitment to Wide-Format Digital Sector with Opening of New Ink Manufacturing Facility

Fujifilm has announced the opening of its brand new digital ink manufacturing facility at its  manufacturing plant in Broadstairs, UK. The company’s investment in this state-of-the-art facility, alongside an upgrade to its R&D department, highlights Fujifilm’s long term commitment to the wide-format digital sector and builds on its ethos of providing its customers with industry-leading solutions manufactured to a consistently high standard.

The new digital ink manufacturing facility has been two years in planning and development, and is the result of an investment of over €4 million, with an additional €2.5 million invested to upgrade the R&D department.

The new manufacturing facility has a footprint of 1800 sqm, and is built to accommodate a projected annual increase of 56 percent in the production of UV ink at the site, manufactured in a range of batch sizes of up to 4,000 liters. This projection reflects the demand for Fujifilm wide-format digital inkjet solutions and the success the company has had in helping its customers transition to digital in this growing market segment. The facility has the capacity to manufacture 6000 tons of ink per year, which will be produced in a variety of packs from 250 ml RFID tagged pouches and cartridges up to 10 liter packs for high productivity wide-format printer platforms.

Colin Boughton, operations director at the Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems Broadstairs site comments, “We have planned everything meticulously over the last few years, recognising that to stay at the forefront of digital ink technology with our range of Uvijet inks, we need to work with state-of-the-art equipment and have the ability to increase production and packing volumes. We were delighted to win the “Best Process Plant” award at last year’s “Best Factory Awards” in the UK, evidence of what we have achieved so far. Our vision is to remain at the forefront of this technology and to re-invest every year in order to maintain that position. For instance, we have worked closely with a specialist company to develop next generation dispersion equipment for our inks, and this will allow us to reduce particle sizes to less than 100nm – true nanotechnology!”

He continues, “We are pleased that the transition from one manufacturing area to another was completely seamless, with absolutely no disruption to our production output at all. In fact, some people didn’t even realise we’d started as the transition coincidentally took place during one of our busiest production months for digital ink. Further investments in equipment will take place during 2013, keeping Fujifilm at the cutting edge of UV digital ink manufacturing and packing technology.”

Over 340 employees work at the Fujifilm Broadstairs site and over 80% of these are involved in digital ink R&D and manufacture. It was of utmost importance that the workforce should be included as much as possible in the company’s plans, resulting in over 80 employee ideas being used in the final design of the facility. In addition, a high level of importance has been placed on training for all staff, as Fujifilm is keen to ensure that everyone has a full appreciation of digital technology.

Underpinning this extensive project is Fujifilm’s commitment to the environment. As always, the company works tirelessly to ensure that all products and processes are as environmentally friendly as possible, and it has invested significantly in alternative methods of reducing its environmental footprint at the new manufacturing facility.

'Waste' energy in the form of heat from production processes and compressed air generation via a bespoke new heat exchange system is used to provide 70 percent of the heating required for the factory. In addition, a new boiler plant has been installed which incorporates compact, modern, high efficiency modulating condensing boilers that use 40 percent less fossil fuels than conventional heating systems. Combine this with the latest figures from the site which show that only seven percent of the waste generated goes to landfill, with 23 percent going to energy recovery and 70 percent recycled, this means that effectively 93 percent is reused in some way, and the company’s ‘green’ ethos is easily apparent.

This work has played its part in Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems being accredited to the Environmental standard ISO14001, in addition to the Quality standard ISO9001. Accreditation to the Health and Safety Standard OHSAS 18001 will be complete by mid 2013.

Cutting edge mindset

In this fast paced environment, changes take place frequently and Fujifilm prides itself on staying at the forefront of any developments, particularly with regard to pigment dispersion equipment and post processing techniques.

This outlook dovetails perfectly with the company’s approach to always provide its own core technologies in both ink and printheads, and partner closely with OEMs such as Inca Digital to develop the best solutions tailored to the market’s needs.

Best Process Plant

In 2011 Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems won ‘Best Process Plant Award’ at the ‘Best Factory Awards‘, confirmation that Fujifilm’s digital inkjet wide format customers benefit from the best ink on the market. Key to this success was the control that Fujifilm had on its processes and its workforce buy in.

The judges were also particularly impressed with the Right First Time improvement that stands at over 99 percent in digital ink manufacture; the 5S housekeeping programme throughout the plant, and Visual Management which gives constant feedback to the manufacturing teams who work in a cellular system.

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