The highly publicised opening of the new Birmingham coach station, one of the most important in the National Express network, was the result of a long project which involved the production and use of clear and innovative signs to promote the facility. Working with design company, Wayfinding Consultants, Sutton Coldfield-based Andesign was responsible for producing all the interior and exterior displays for the refurbished site using a mix of digitally printed and more traditional manufacturing methods.
It was Andesign's reputation which played a major part in winning this important contract, with the company providing the winning tender. Through continued investment in the latest production technologies, the business has grown steadily since its inception in 1995 and is now well-known nationally for its innovative range of services and attention to detail. Additionally, because of its comprehensive range of design and manufacturing facilities, the entire project was able to be handled in-house.
Consultation for the National Express work commenced in March 2009 with the project being completed just before Christmas. The broad variation of signs and displays was designed to represent a vital package to the customer as well as strong promotion of the brand, and it was essential that each one was informative and of high quality. This need was satisfied by Andesign's use of the latest technology combined with the durability essential to cope with the heavy human traffic using the new Birmingham coach station facility.
Andesign's brief encompassed every type of display required for the new coach station, including interior and exterior signs, plus a range of digitally produced graphics. In total more than 400 square m of vinyl and overlaminate were used, with a further 100 square m of 6 mm composite aluminium panelling being employed. Every element was manufactured and finished in-house, with installation carried out by the company's own specialist and qualified teams.
Andy Williams, director of Andesign, comments: "This was a major project for us and involved all of our production equipment, including our two new wide-format digital printers which give us UV-curable and very mild solvent-based ink-jet capabilities. With many more traditional processes also being involved, such as computer-cut text and built-up letters, we were able to complement these with new technologies.
Environmental considerations were high on the agenda, and no harsh solvents were present in any of the displays. For lighting, low cost long-life LED illumination was used throughout" Williams continues. "We also needed to comply with legislation by producing tactile and Braille signs in public areas yet keep within the design remit of the project."
Many of the displays were produced using Andesign's recently installed 3.2 m EFI VUTEk GS3200 using UV-curable ink and suitable for high-speed, full-colour quality output onto a broad range of rigid and flexible materials. This was complemented by another new addition, a Seiko I Infotech ColorPainter v-64s which utilises very low odour mild-solvent inks making it ideal for interior and exterior graphic applications on roll-fed media. The company's Zund XL1600 CNC router also played an important role in the finishing element by providing precise contour cutting and routing of the many different materials employed.
Jeremy Booker, brand design manager for National Express, states: "This is the first time we've worked with Andesign and we were very impressed with the attention to detail. The company pulled out all the stops to deliver striking signs that will welcome millions of National Express customers to Birmingham every year."
"We're delighted we were awarded the contract for this project," confirms Williams. "Our recent investment in the latest printing technology, which we believe no other wide-format digital print and sign specialist in the country is working with currently, has enabled us to offer a point of difference both to Wayfinding Consultants and to National Express."
"The result is high impact, visually appealing and, therefore, incredibly consumer friendly," Williams concludes. "We're also proud to be part of such a prestigious project right here in Birmingham."
With its UK head-quarters based at the Birmingham site, National Express's network of coaches last year carried some 16 million passengers around the UK. This coach station acts as a major interchange and the refurbishment, which opened officially on 18 December 2009, was estimated to have cost £15 million.