Name badges for the London Olympics, the Super Bowl and hospitals
- Credit: PDC BIG
Ipswich has a long history of printing and manufacturing - and PDC BIG is making it big, in the niche world of employee badges and identification, business cards and other products for public events and conferences.
PDC BIG’s Ipswich factory is tucked away but you will know many its clients; from Ipswich Building Society to Tesco, Santander Bank to Asda.
There were Ipswich-made badges in use at the 2012 London Olympics and the Super Bowl that year.
Currently clients include the Croke Park national stadium in Dublin, blue chip companies with headquarter in London, and NHS clients across the country. There are racecourses and sports grounds too.
The numbers are enormous. The Ipswich facility produces more than 2 million name badges a year, along with a billion wristbands, half a million lanyards and 13 million business cards.
There are customers in commerce and retail, health and law enforcement, sport and leisure - wherever there are customer-facing roles for staff.
I was taken on a tour of the Ipswich premises by Mark Alderman, regional business manager.
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These days print works are high tech, and spotlessly clean but they still have that unmistakable - exciting - ink and chemical smell.
The digital printers produce individual staff name badges to a high standard, and then the parts, backing and clips are assembled by hand.
“It is all lovingly hand-made,” said Mark, as the clip was added to a name tag which would be in the post the same day to a supermarket employee somewhere in the country.
A customer such as Tesco has a constant need for staff badges. It has 38,000 staff in 3.500 stores in the UK and another 15,000 stores in Europe.
The design palette, agreed with the customer, gives the employee a choice of illustrations.
Mr Alderman explained: “Every badge can be personal. We can customise the badges through to the ultimate level realistically.
“We are producing 4,500 name badges per day, and within two days we ship them out.
“It is about designing our systems and our products to be right every time. For each time to be the highest quality.”
Products are despatched every day across the UK and Europe, sometimes as far as Australia and South Asia.
He said: “We have invested heavily in new equipment and presses, it is all about producing high quality products for our customers.
“We are market leaders and a centre of excellence, recognized by our owners.”
PDC BIG is now part of the American Brady Corporation which has continued to invest in innovation and new technology at Ipswich.
New products are always being developed including reusable badges and chalkboard badges.
There is also an eco-friendly range of badges made from biodegradable laminate. and bamboo lanyards.