Workflow automation is becoming increasingly important to all types and sizes of printing businesses. But not every company is progressing at the same rate. This case study from EFI (Electronics for Imaging, Inc.) illustrates how one commercial sheet-fed printing business has approached the adoption of more automation.
Wallace Carlson Printing in Minnetonka, MN, specializes in marketing collateral, retail and product catalogs, packaging, secure packaging, and direct mail. They serve clients in the pharmaceutical, financial, corporate, and education sectors.
The company recently added EFI PrintFlow dynamic scheduling software to the existing EFI Midmarket Print Suite that Wallace Carlson uses to direct its business and production management functions.
The company had been scheduling jobs manually, which can be time-consuming. With PrintFlow, the company expects the scheduling process to be more concise and transparent, which will help the business continue to improve and grow.
About EFI PrintFlow
EFI PrintFlow uses an advanced optimized rules engine to address the specific scheduling issues that complicate the manual scheduling processes. This includes criteria such as machine capabilities, operator availability, tooling availability, job requirements, material availability and other scheduling constraints.
The software automatically identifies the most efficient, cost-effective path for each job by optimizing equipment use, minimizing make-ready time, reducing wasted materials, and ensuring on-time delivery.
PrintFlow generates automated, up-to-the-minute sequenced and synchronized run lists that keeps equipment users informed while helping business owners build a more efficient, profitable business. It eliminates the guesswork and manual juggling of variables that can affect the online delivery of overlooked jobs.
“I’m really optimistic that we will recognize efficiencies in all areas,” said Wallace Carlson Chief Operating Officer Charlie Cox. “This efficiency will come from tighter scheduling of the press department and less non-chargeable time as the job moves from prepress to production to finishing.”
“We spend a fair amount of time in the company asking, What’s next? Is this ready? or Is that ready?” said Cox. “You add that up over a year, and it’s a lot of wasted time.”
“Clients will be able to get their products to market faster, which is a win-win for us and them,” he added.
Part of a Series of Print Workflow Automation Decisions
The impetus to improve the workflow at Wallace Carlson began five years ago when company leaders realized they would need to adopt newer, advanced equipment and software systems before they would be ready for the potential gains that artificial intelligence and robotics could offer.
Two years into that initiative, Wallace Carlson purchased the EFI Midmarket Print Suite, a comprehensive workflow that uses EFI Pace MIS/ERP software at its core.
Last year, after investing nearly $4 million in equipment and operations, Cox felt it was important to focus on training and reworking processes and procedures to ensure that the company was making maximum use of the capabilities in the Midmarket Print Suite.
Enhancing scheduling was the next logical step for the company.
“We knew the time would come when we’d have to implement more of an electronic scheduling module,” said Cox. “We looked at other offerings, but PrintFlow just seemed to really dominate. And with its compatibility with the EFI Pace MIS/ERP, it just made perfect sense to bolt it on and tie it all together.”
“We’ve had a nice growth trajectory for probably the last three years,” said Cox. “Even with the pandemic, we’re still going to post some growth this year.” The PrintFlow investment will help Wallace Carlson tighten up internal processes, ensuring that growth doesn’t come at the expense of productivity.
“We’ve always strived to be on the cutting edge of newer technology, software, equipment, and automation,” said Cox. “That was always our differentiator, pulling away from the rest of the pack and putting ourselves in a little bit of blue water.”
EFI is a global technology company that develops breakthrough technologies for the manufacturing of signage, packaging, textiles, ceramic tiles, building materials, and personalized documents. The company offers a wide range of printers, inks, digital front ends, and a comprehensive business and production workflow suite that transforms and streamlines the entire production process. (www.efi.com)