Set in concrete

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Bison Concrete leads the market in precast concrete technology and as such makes heavy demands on its printing solutions. Amy Nicholson finds out how Oc? equipment has helped Bison to stay on top.

Some companies pride themselves on providing bespoke solutions, others prefer to be on the receiving end. Bison Concrete ± a market leader in precast concrete technology and solutions to the construction business ± has been at both ends of the spectrum simultaneously.

Bison gained its business edge by offering customers a bespoke service, one that begins with conceptual design, and is followed by off-site manufacture right through to the installation of the approved products on-site; ú50 million has been put into a programme of investment, ensuring that Bison can continue to offer optimum service. But the company has also enjoyed a four-year partnership with Oc? in which it has seen its print production overhauled and streamlined to its unique specifications.

Bison initially approached Oc? to provide it with print solutions in 2002. The group was setting up a new office and was looking to replace old and unreliable plan-printing equipment. Working primarily in AutoCAD, technical drawings and documentation accounted for most of BisonÝs print output.

The company wanted to make their print production run more quickly, more easily and with less breakdowns. Peter Kelly, Technical Director at Bison remembers what Bison initially wanted from its print solutions: ýWe wanted to have a productive, high volume, reliable system that automated as much of our print production as possible. Initially we looked at hardware to print sets of drawings in collated packs that were folded so we didnÝt have to fold them by hand.¯

Bison initially leased an Oc? TDS600 for its head office in Burton upon Trent and an Oc? TDS400 for another of its offices, based in Falkirk. Further to this, Bison had three Oc? 9300 printers to allocate to satellite offices throughout the country.

The Oc? hardware soon proved its worth, leading to Bison turning its attention towards improving its document workflow: ýWhen we saw what the Oc? hardware could do, we asked Oc? to extend the solution to automate our issuing and distribution process,¯ Peter reports. Oc? was just launching a new software package, Oc? Digital Distribution Manager (DDM), and Bison was clearly impressed with it and had it installed as soon as it was released. Peter was certainly happy with the solution from the word go: ýWe recognised that the Oc? DDM represented a great solution.¯

Amalgamating Oc? technologies made life easier for Bison, as Peter points out: ýThis partnership demonstrates the unique productivity of Oc?Ýs combined hardware and software to improve the issuing and distribution process, streamline our workflow and just make things a lot more efficient.¯

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Oc? DDM has been specially designed for organisations whose growth means they spend an increasing amount of time administering the distribution process rather than fulfilling their revenue-creating roles. Bison fits the bill: its portfolio has swelled to include products for retail, commercial, industrial, education and governmental sectors, and has included landmark projects like the Channel Tunnel. BisonÝs prodigious output certainly demands a robust solution.

As Bison grew, its equipment needed to be upgraded to cope with the expanding needs of the company. And BisonÝs needs were certainly evolving: the Oc? TDS600 was undergoing very heavy use in BisonÝs main office, so it was replaced with an Oc? TDS800, which was more appropriate to BisonÝs developing needs. It was also decided that the role of the Oc? TDS400 in Falkirk would be better filled by the Oc? TDS600 from the main office. These new solutions have enabled Bison to continue providing the best possible service to its clients. ýThe main benefit is that the equipment is printing more quickly and is still very reliable, and we are currently doing about 200,000 linear metres at Burton upon Trent,¯ adds Peter. Since this upgrade has been implemented, the relationship between Oc? and Bison has evolved further and the new hardware, particularly the Oc? TDS800, has made BisonÝs challenging workload manageable.

Thanks to Bison ConcreteÝs use of the software, the Oc? DDM has now gone international. Bison has appointed a team of approximately 60 designers in Vietnam and Bison has found the application to be so versatile that it benefits the work of the design team immensely. Furthermore, Bison has found that Oc? is able to provide them with more than just the large-scale print solutions a company of their size requires. Recent installations include an Oc? TDS600 stand-alone scanner, as well as an Oc? DS10 A4 scanner. Bison needed this equipment to help with its latest in-house project: making a digital record of their document archives. Given BisonÝs long history and the number of ventures it has been involved with, this constitutes a major project.

Bison has also recruited some extra staff to manage the project. This kind of work is vital to a company of BisonÝs size, since it needs reliable and complete archives and scanning ensures that all documentation is safely and securely backed-up for future use. Catering to BisonÝs need for both large-format printing and smaller scanning equipment has led Oc?Ýs relationship with Bison to grow and develop mutually: as BisonÝs needs have increased, Oc?Ýs product range and capability has also expanded.

As long as this trend continues, the two companies will be able to continue supporting each other long into the future.

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