Mutoh Europe Expands

Mutoh Europe, a business unit of Mutoh Holdings Co. Ltd., recently announced that it has reached a final agreement to acquire the company SE Group S.A., the holding company of the Sesoma and Sericomex companies. The Sesoma - Sericomex group (SE Group) will continue its activities as a sub-concern of Mutoh Europe. This transaction is in line with the strategy of the Mutoh Group to accelerate its growth in Europe.

Mutoh teamHeadquartered in Luxembourg since 1995, the SE Group is a leading supplier of equipment and materials for the sign and display and industrial visual communication markets in Scandinavia and in the Baltic States.

"Consolidation of the SE group's activities within Mutoh Europe represents significant growth opportunities for both Mutoh and Sesoma - Sericomex," says Arthur Vanhoutte, President of Mutoh's European operations.

"We have been working closely together with the Sesoma and Sericomex companies since 1992, when they became authorised distributor for Mutoh CAD/CAS equipment."

"Our key goal in acquiring the SE Group is to accelerate Mutoh's growth in Europe. Apart from a recognised brand name and market position in Scandinavia and the Baltic states, the SE Group has an experienced management, excellent logistics, highly skilled personnel and last but not least a wide customer base. Their extensive field experience will also assist us further to develop future products meeting the needs of digital printer users." Vanhoutte concludes.

For further information visit www.mutoh.be

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Universal Aluminium Systems - new automated aluminium extrusion handling facility.

Sign manufacturers requiring a faster than normal turnaround on orders for aluminium extrusions for the on-site assembly of illuminated and non-illuminated sign solutions are now benefiting from a new automated materials handling facility installed at Bristol-based Universal Aluminium Systems. The company is one of the UK's leading suppliers of aluminium extrusions for the sign manufacturing and the architectural/building/glazing sectors. The newly installed Unicompact storage system.

At a cost of £1 million, Universal has installed a Unicompact computer-controlled automatic storage and retrieval system supplied by specialist production solutions provider KASTO and supported by new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software. Key aspects of the system include the provision of a much greater and more varied stockholding capability and faster location, handling and delivery of materials to the ultimate benefit of all Universal customers.

Head of Production at the Bristol facility, Gary Darlington explained: ‘Due to the honeycomb design of the Unicompact system, we can now save up to two thirds of the space previously taken up by conventional A-frame racks, whilst increasing our materials stockholding capacity from 300 to 800 tonnes. Since at any given time Universal holds between 600 and 700 tonnes of material, this leaves room for additional varieties of extrusion to be stocked. Furthermore, whereas previously it took a full eight-hour shift to unload, manhandle and stack the material vertically, it now takes only two hours to carry out the same procedure using the fully automated Unicompact system. There are also fewer health and safety issues to be addressed and a greatly reduced risk of materials being damaged during handling.'

Using the system's ERP software, locating and delivering the material is, according to Gary Darlington, at least twice as fast as the conventional and more labour-intensive A-frame retrieval method previously employed. Operators simply follow on-screen instructions to pick the required amount of material from each job processing cassette presented by the system's gantry-type crane. In a single operation and to save further time, this picks the next cassette whilst simultaneously dispensing with the previous one.

Technical Director at Universal, Carl Richards added: 'The Unicompact system stores hundreds of different types of extrusion in lengths ranging from three to 6.5 metres. The computer control knows the content of each cassette in which material is stored horizontally in bundles that are unpacked only when needed, thereby avoiding unnecessary handling. When material is removed, the computer automatically knows how many extrusions have been taken by the difference in the weight of the cassette.'

Commenting on the contribution that the Unicompact system is making to Universal's growth expectations, General Manager Jarl Severn concluded: 'Our £11 million-turnover stockholding and fabrication facility has, by virtue of this investment, positioned itself to increase the company's market share of what are continually developing sectors of industry. With its attendant merits of being a fully recyclable material and offering outstanding light weight-to-strength capabilities, aluminium will be adopted increasingly for a wide range of applications.'

For further information, visit www.universal-aluminium.co.uk or telephone 0117 955 9091.

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Laserite relocates to Basildon

Laserlite Logo As part of its ongoing rapid expansion Laserite, Essex based laser cutting and marking systems provider, has relocated the business from Brentwood to Basildon.

The new facility of 680 sq.m (7,300 sq.ft) hosts a very wide range of CO2 and YAG laser cutting, marking and engraving devices.

The new facility hosts over a dozen demonstration machines within two showroom areas amounting to 100 sq.m as well as significantly improved production, support, sales, warehouse and office spaces.

Dean Carpenter, Director, comments "The Brentwood facility served us well during the last eight years, however, with the phenomenal success of our Lotus product range we simply didn't have the space to cope with the upsurge in sales".

New Laserlite buildings

"At Basildon we had a 'blank canvas' to create a bespoke facility to provide us with sufficient space to store and service machines for current and foreseeable future demand."

"The Basildon property is of a prestigious quality and its acquisition shows further proof of our confidence and ongoing commitment to strengthening our business in both current and new market sectors."

As well as increased space Laserite has added more staff and other resources to support the systems it supplies.

See www.laserite.com for further details.

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FUJIFILM Sericol launches Large Format Printing business

FUJIFILM Sericol recently announced the launch of its Large Format Printing business in the UK. This will bring together a complete range of hardware, ink, media, software and tools from a single-source supplier, with many of the products carrying the company's newly-acquired euromedia brand.

Sericol LogoThe roll-out of the euromedia solution in the UK follows its highly successful launch in mainland Europe, with around 10,000 customers such as sign makers, in-house print departments, exhibition contractors, advertising agencies, copy, print and photo shops now enjoying the benefits that the euromedia range brings.

Part of FUJIFILM's wider inkjet strategy, the introduction of the euromedia brand in the UK, follows FUJIFILM's acquisitions of Sericol in 2005 and Colormy in October 2007. The euromedia solution brings together FUJIFILM Sericol's screen and inkjet knowledge with Colormy's expertise in the large format print market, resulting in FUJIFILM now being able to offer a comprehensive choice of wide format inkjet solutions to the industry.

Designed specifically for large format print providers, the euromedia range includes hand-picked, best-in-class products, which are all evaluated and qualified by industry experts before being integrated into end-to-end print solutions. Field technical support, including engineering, application and colour management, will be provided by FUJIFILM and FUJIFILM Sericol technical staff based in the UK and in Europe.

Sericol-EuromediaOver time, FUJIFILM Sericol intends to develop a programme of customer support that draws on the example of Colormy's backing for the euromedia brand in mainland Europe, which comprises both technical support and business advice.

For example, when customers call to order, they are invited to explain the job they are planning so euromedia experts can advise solutions that will add value and improve results. In addition, business management, co-operative marketing and technical support training programmes will be available, along with external sales training to help customers win more business.

For more information, visit www.euromedia.eu.com or telephone 0845 0805544.

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MACtac Awards dinner - Winners celebrate

MACtac U.K. held its Awards dinner at Sedgebrook Hall, Northampton, in September in recognition of the UK winners of the 2008 competition (see July/August issue).

Beverly Ridings, Marketing Manager of Mactac UK warmly welcomed all the winners and guests on behalf of her colleagues. Beverly congratulated the winners and commented that again this year's competition in the UK had produced an overall European winner. This is the fourth time in a row that the UK has had a European Winner, which goes to show the high level of talent we have in the UK.

The guests included representatives from MACtac UK Distributors and representatives from the sign and digital trade press.

Max Linder, Marketing Director, MACtac Europe presented the UK winning applications - European Winner, National First, Second and Third winners, and those deemed by the jury as "highly commended" judged on the high quality of entry. Max also showed examples of other winning applications across Europe.

Chris Martin, Country Manager, MACtac UK, presented the European Winner with their stunning trophy, and the winners and highly commended entries with their framed certificates.

With the formal side of the evening over, everyone enjoyed a good meal and retired to the bar afterwards in the relaxed surroundings of Sedgebrook Hall.

European Winner - Jupiter Display (UK)

Jupiter Display produced a giant sculpture in the shape of an ampersand to enliven space between two roundabouts on the approach to Blue Water Shopping Centre. The jury commented particularly on the original execution and the contribution the sculpture made to the image of the area.
Products: JT59299, LF3999.
Distributor: Amari Plastics plc.

Jupiter Display's giant sculpture in the shape of an ampersand. MACtac award being accepted by Jupiter Display
National First Winner - Judy Foote

Artist Judy Foote designed unique decorations illustrating Roald Dahl books for a children's library in the Cardiff area. MACal 8400 transparent colours applied to windows with natural sunlight coming through make for a magical atmosphere.

Products: MACal8400.
Disbtributor: Andersons.

Images on window at library. MACtac winner, Judy accepting award.
National Second Winner - Kokoon Ltd

Kokoon internally decorated new studio offices with visuals appearing to be suspended in mid-air to give a feeling of space.
Products: MACal 8900, JT5828, LF3898.
Distributor: Amari Digital Supplies.

Corridor from Kokoon internally decorated new studio offices
National Third Winner - Raccoon Ltd

Raccoon Ltd decorated and wrapped some 25 of the world’s most expensive cars for the Gumball 3000 rally, which runs from London to Asia and back to London.
Products: JT5929MBF, MACal 9800.
Distributor: Andersons.

Black Porsche wrapped in vinyl flame effect graphics
Highly Commended - Signs amp; Imaging Ltd

Signs & Imaging were awarded a Highly Commended for creating a stunning entrance for the Dickens World indoor visitor complex in Chatham where Charles Dickens lived most of his childhood.
Products: JT5929PM, LF3697. Distributor: Amari Plastics. Products: MACal 8900, JT5828, LF3898.
Distributor: Amari Digital Supplies.

Highly Commended - AST Signs

AST Signs was recognised for its work applying graphics on the locomotive and 90 container carriages for Eddie Stobbart’s first full livered dedicated freight train in the UK.
Products: JT5529MBF, LF3399.

Highly Commended - Insignia Signs

Insignia Signs decorated the garage that houses the land train on Boscombe seafront using designs produced by eight year olds. The resulting beach hut imagery is in keeping with the area and blends in well with the rest of the promenade.
Products: JT5829R, LF3898. Distributor: Andersons.

Garage that houses the land train on Boscombe seafront decorated using designs produced by eight year olds.
Highly Commended - Digital Deadline

Digital Deadline used a printed visual behind a set of semi-transparent stripes. At a distance, the stripes are most visible but as you get closer, the details of the image become clear.
Products: JT5529P, LF3399. Distributor: Amari Digital Supplies.

Highly Commended - Sign Language amp; Vehicle Wraps Ltd

Sign Language and Vehicle Wraps joined forces to totally wrap 57 vehicles with graphics to promote 40 regional radio stations of the G CAP Media Group.
Products: JT5529P, JT5915, LF3399. Distributor: Andersons. Vehicle Wraps

Highly Commended - The Image Group

The Image Group installed a 3,500sq.m. graphic featuring an Alpine scene for the longest and widest, year-round, indoor snow and ski slope in Europe. The installation had to be made without drilling into the walls, special cherry pickers were used for the first six weeks but when the tin floor was laid these were too heavy and a crack abseiling team was used to complete the installation.
Products: JT5929, LF3998. Distributor: Pyramid Display Materials. A 3,500sq.m. graphic featuring an Alpine scene for an indoor snow and ski slope.

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Active raises its profile in Europe

Hanging sign saying 'Venice Beach' Already firmly established as one of the UK's leading and most successful corporate signage manufacturers, award-winning Active Signs is fast achieving the same status in Continental Europe. Having previously carried out an extensive external signage programme on behalf of the U.S. conglomerate Value Retail at its La Vallee retail village outlet near Paris, Active was awarded a similar re-branding contract for the company's Ingolstadt Retail Park near Munich in Germany.

This was a complete design and build project, encompassing initial conceptualisation in association with Value Retail's American and German marketing teams, production of all of the signage elements at Active's facility in Ramsgate and transportation and on-site installation by the company's own team of engineers. The project was carried out in phases over a period of 18 months and was designed to fully complement the retail outlet’s buildings as well as its architectural and environmental characteristics.


Entrance sign to Ingolstadt village outlet shopping

Like La Vallee, the Ingolstadt development comprised an eclectic mix of highly individualistic sign design concepts. These covered main identification and individual signs for all of the 150 retail units, directional and information and ancillary signs. Special decorative lamppost signs and architectural lighting features were also supplied. All ornate projecting sign brackets were constructed from extruded aluminium, profile-shaped, dressed and powdercoated to form attractive and eye-catching manifestations.

Due to the prestigious nature of this particular project, solid steel was used extensively for the various signage elements, while the distinctive fingerpost signs were rendered in hand-carved solid wood.


Hanging sign at the retail outlet.

Once again, Active Signs has demonstrated British signage engineering skills at their best and transported these seamlessly to a major location in Europe. Few UK-based sign manufacturers can claim the same level of overseas recognition and the financial rewards that this brings in an increasingly more competitive marketplace.

For further information on the sign design and manufacturing facilities available at Active, visit www.activesigns.co.uk or telephone 01843 850 800.

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Explorer plants Hampshire flags on Arctic ice during kayaking mission

Flags manufactured by a south coast firm have played an important part in a record-breaking expedition to the Arctic by environmentalist and explorer Lewis Gordon Pugh.

The mission to the North Pole saw Lewis kayak 135 kilometres through Arctic ice packs to 81 degrees north, where he planted 192 flags donated by the Hampshire Flag Company representing each of the countries in the United Nations. This is a historic event as it is the first time all the flags of the world have been planted near the North Pole.

Lewis is now the only person to have kayaked this far north in a daring journey during which he faced freezing conditions, horizontal snow showers, strong sea currents and an ongoing threat of polar bears and walrus.

Lewis said, "Last year at this latitude I stood on three-metre thick ice. This year the ice I was standing on was only one-metre thick. The disappearance of this sea ice is happening considerably faster than scientific models predicted a year ago.

"By planting flags the world’s 192 nations on the Arctic, I hope I have conveyed that despite it being thousands of miles away from most people, the loss of its sea ice will have profound consequences for us all," added Lewis.

This is the largest ever order of individual national flags that Waterlooville-based Hampshire Flag has manufactured and the family-run firm provides ongoing support for Lewis’ record-breaking swims and expeditions. In 2007, Lewis swam one kilometre across an open patch of sea at the North Pole to raise awareness of the Arctic's fragile state.

Graham Wilkinson, Managing Director of Hampshire Flag, said "We are delighted that Lewis has safely accomplished his mission and succeeded in raising international awareness of this critical problem.

"It is wonderful that our flags have travelled so far and through such adverse conditions, and seeing so many of them planted on the ice really highlights that this is a global issue" added Graham.

Hampshire Flag’s team of 18 supplies flags, PVC banners, event display systems and flagpoles to individuals, charities, businesses and events locally, nationally and globally.

The award-winning company provides on-going backing for various charity challenges and expeditions including the Homeless World Cup, Portsmouth Festivities and Keith White’s expedition to sail solo across the Atlantic with only one hand. Prestigious clients include Portsmouth Football Club, BBC, Channel 4, IBM and British Airways and it also has a sales office in Dundee, Scotland.

For further information call Tel: 023 92 237 135. or visit www.hampshireflag.eu

Lewis standing on Arctic ice with his kayak in front of 192 flags
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