From Order to Delivery: How It All Works
Once your order has been placed you will receive an e-mail confirmation with the order details, including a reference number. You will then receive an e-mail confirming when the order has been dispatched. So what happens in between these two electronic messages? Well obviously your order is made, packaged up and dispatched from our impressive production facilities in Scotland, but there is far more to it than that. Due to the personalised nature of our products, each item is made to order – individually crafted by our skilled team of manufacturers. This means (put on your best Blue Peter presenters voice for this bit) there are no products we have made earlier sitting ready and waiting to go out.
Newspaper Books have been a popular and integral part of Signature Gifts since the beginning in 2003. A license with the Mirror Group gives us access to a large database of files that contain digital scans of Mirror Newspaper dating back to 1903. These scans are used to create anything from a history of your favourite football team, to headlines and articles covering celebrities such as Princess Diana and David Bowie. The research for these books is carried out by our expert team based in Baldoon, Scotland, who will look for major news regarding the subject they are researching, then find the matching articles in the digital archive. This procedure can often be a painstaking one, but the results are tremendous. Once research is completed, the selected scans are put together into one file, which in turn is transformed into a multi-page PDF file – ready to print at any time.
Once an order for a newspaper book has been placed, our production team are sent the details through an automated system. They will see which book has been selected and locate the relevant PDF file that was created by the research team. The PDF file is then printed through high-speed, state-of-the-art production presses, including our main printer – the Canon i300.
The printed pages are then taken to the binding machines where they are ‘Perfect Bound’ which essentially means that the pages are glued together – the product is now starting to look like a book!
The bound pages are now in need of the finish touches that make the newspaper books the instantly recognisable products you see on our portal. A choice of brown leatherette and black, blue and red leather covers are all available and these all have the option to be embossed. In this instance, covers are first put through the embossing wheel, a machine which will emboss the cover in silver foil with the requested name.
The pages are finally ready to be housed inside the cover. The bound pages and the cover are placed inside the casing machine which glues the pages to the cover. Once this process is complete, the book is then placed inside the presser, which ensures that the glue has kept the book together. A few final checks after pressing, and then it’s on to QC.
In QC, newspaper books are checked for any marks, blemishes or errors made during production. If the book is not perfect then it is sent back to be either fixed or completely remade. The QC stage is arguably the most important process of them all as it ensures the highest standard of our product reaches the customer. Once the book has passed QC, it is packaged up and added to the pile of books awaiting dispatch, be it via Royal Mail or APC courier. This whole process will take up to two days from the moment we receive the order and the finished product is nothing short of exceptional.
Personalised Books for Children & Adults
The Personalised books industry is an ever-growing market as customers look to add that extra special touch to their purchases to make the perfect gift. Signature Gifts is Number One in the UK for supplying these bespoke items, and over the past few years our range has expanded to cater for people of all ages, as well as ensuring that the product the customer receives isn’t just a personalised book, but a traditional, premium gift that can be cherished and treasured. As well as our own range of books created in-house, we also produce a growing number of different licensed products; from Disney and Marvel to Ladybird and the brilliant Haynes Manuals.
With so many different books that are made to order, how are we able to deliver products in a short space of time? As well as a well-trained group who have many years experience in book manufacturing, we have invested in state-of-the art high-speed production presses such as the Canon i300 which has already been mentioned. The i300 has the capability of printing up to a staggering 750 books per hour, and not only that, but it has specific functions that make it easy to deal with large volumes of variable data, a feature that is undeniably needed when handling products that continually come through with different personalisation.
Just like the newspaper books, when an order is placed it is received by the production team on the automated system. The order generates a PDF file that contains the entire contents of the book chosen, and has cleverly managed to add in all of the personalisation, from names in the text and images, to the name on the inside page alongside a personal message.
This file is generated ready to print a mere minutes after the order, and are all sent to print via the Canon i300 and the other state-of-the-art production presses. This is where the magic happens and up to 750 books an hour are printed.
The printed pages are then taken to the binding machine and are placed together in the same fashion as the newspaper books. The binding process ensures the pages of the book are glued together properly and are easy to turn for the reader.
The book is now bound, but missing it’s cover! Softback books are added in the binding machine, and hardback covers glued on to the pages using the casing machine, and then put inside the press to ensure the cover has been stuck down firmly. There are two different kinds of hardback covers: cloth, and print over board (POB). Both these materials are stored inside the case making machine. Covers are fed inside this machine where the hardback materials are automatically glued on and folded neatly.
The hardback covers are then sent to be embossed (if required) using the same machinery that embossed the newspaper books.
The hardback covers are now ready, all that’s needed is the pages. The bound pages and hardback covers are placed inside the casing machine and glued together, then fed inside the press machine to ensure cover and pages are firmly stuck together.
The hardback books are now ready to join their softback counterparts in the QC phase, where again, the books are checked to make sure they are in tip-top condition.
Once books pass QC, they are scanned for dispatch. Once this scan has been been completed, an e-mail notification is sent to the customer notifying them that their parcel is on the way! They are then packaged up and sent out via the Royal Mail or APC courier service.
It is a great advantage for us as a business to have such state-of-the-art technology that allows us to produce high quality products in an incredibly short space of time, but none of it would mean a thing if we didn’t have the highly skilled professionals running the machines day in, day out. Additionally, a key part of producing personalised products lies in the personal touch and not in the ability of an automated machine. Technology may create the products, but it is the human touch which transforms a book into a gift.
Many of our staff at our production facility in Bladnoch, Scotland have worked at Signature for years and have seen the many changes and developments that have occurred, including the move to the new facility that opened in 2016, allowing us to close our Batford factory and move production of all books to one improved facility. If you’d like to read more about the hands behind the production, click here.