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Prima & TTP prove pivotal in time-critical project for Pitney Bowes

Cambridgeshire-based contract manufacturer Prima Electronic Services has underlined its ability to address customers’ needs within an ultra-short period. Together with leading product development firm TTP plc, the company was recently assigned to work on a major project for Pitney Bowes, the global technology company whose sending technology is used by industries all over the world - including the postal sector.

Pitney Bowes needed to quickly replace the high-speed printers in some of its mail inserting technologies across its large install base. Acute time to market pressures meant that a quick turnaround was essential - from both a design and manufacturing perspective. TTP was appointed to rapidly design and develop the new print module and asked Prima to support the project. Prima supplied prototype assemblies in short timescales for test and evaluation. A decision was made for Prima to also be responsible for manufacturing of the print system. The company made use of its experience of supplying the full-system prototypes from an early stage in the design process to rapidly transition to full-scale production.

As Paul Mayhew, Director of Global Procurement at Pitney Bowes, explains; “Time to market was a key deliverable of the program. It required the need to partner with a UK based manufacturing organisation that was agile and able to work at speed to implement changes through the development phase and ramp up. Prima had an established relationship with our engineering partner TTP plc, so it was a natural fit to engage with them on this program. They have provided excellent support in what has been an unprecedented year impacted by a global pandemic.”

The new Pitney Bowes high-speed printer has the capacity to deal with 26,000 items per hour. Inclusion of two ink cartridges allows one to be replaced while the other is still functioning - so there is no interruption in throughput. Featuring both electromechanical and pneumatics elements, the printer has a complex design, with a large bill-of-materials (BoM) that comprises close to 400 different component parts.

“For this Pitney Bowes assignment, we needed to partner with an agile contract manufacturer that could respond to sudden alterations, in relation to either the design or process itself. The aggressive timeline that had been set, plus the logistical difficulties resulting from COVID brought extra pressures too,” adds Charles Cooke TTP’s Project Leader. “Beyond the actual production, the contract manufacturer had to have the resources to take on a diagnostic role, analysing different aspects of the project then implementing optimisations as and when required. From past experience, we knew Prima could tick all of these boxes.”

“Despite the issues that COVID has caused, we’ve managed to adapt accordingly” states Charlie Colbert, Engineering Services Manager at Prima. “Normally it would have been possible to have TTP engineers on site to observe and offer advice during the prototyping phases and early production runs, but current restrictions prevented this. We figured out ways around this though, with live video links being set up at our site enabling real-time interaction. This allowed us to get valuable feedback and quickly overcome any challenges that arose.”

Prima is now producing the initial printer demand required by Pitney Bowes. After that, ongoing residual levels will be needed - for repair and replacement purposes. 

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