Print Shop Saves Hours of Labor Daily with EFI UV-LED Hybrid Wide-Format Printer

The owners of the AlphaGraphics® franchise in Portsmouth, New Hampshire have achieved some impressive results after investing in an EFI™ Pro 16h UV LED hybrid wide format printer.

AlphaGraphics Portsmouth provides marketing and printing services to clients in vertical markets such as food, medical manufacturing, real estate, government and education. They purchased EFI’s hybrid roll-to-roll/flatbed printer from EFI dealer Nazdar SourceOne® to grow its large-format graphics business in the post-COVID economy.

“We’re seeing growth as our customers recover from COVID,” said Carrier. “We couldn’t quite justify hiring an entire new team member, but the time and labor that the Pro 16h has saved us essentially equates to half of a person.”

“Our customer-facing folks have become more confident in committing to job fulfillment,” he added. “That’s a benefit you can’t necessarily measure, but you can feel it and it makes a real impact.”

Background

Co-owners Chris Carrier and Chris Oberg purchased the business in October 2019 and brought the AlphaGraphics franchise brand to the previously independent shop. To grow the business, they decided to invest in a hybrid large-format printer that could bring more efficiency and capabilities than the shop’s existing roll-to-roll printers offered.

AlphaGraphics Portsmouth co-owners Chris Oberg (left) and Chris Carrier

“We have a philosophy of continuous improvement when it comes to sales and operations,” said Oberg.

Working closely with their Nazdar sales contact, Carrier and Oberg researched the EFI printer and were impressed with its performance. With features to assure the lowest total cost of ownership, superior image quality, and the ability to handle a wide range of substrates, the Pro 16h printer promised the growth in possibilities that Carrier and Oberg were looking for.

“We try and push our customers toward creative thinking, but people equate creativity with higher costs,” said Oberg. “The Pro 16h gives us the ability to push creative boundaries at a lower cost.”

The availability of local service from the EFI display graphics operations located a short distance from AlphaGraphics Portsmouth – and valuable input and feedback from a network of other AlphaGraphics owners – helped convince Oberg and Carrier of their decision.

“We are active in our network of other AlphaGraphics owners who use a lot of different flatbeds,” said Carrier. “There was a large contingency of owners who were glad they went with EFI and said they would make the same choice if they had to go back.”

The duo is also able to bounce ideas off their AlphaGraphics colleagues who are experienced with the same printer and handle similar customer projects. “Having that additional network of support goes a long way,” Carrier said.

EFI Pro 16h Hybrid Roll-to-Roll/Flatbed Printer
The EFI Pro 16h UV-LED hybrid wide-format printer can print 4-color graphics on rigid substrates up to 65-in. wide and 2 in. thick and rolls of material up to 65 in. wide and 9 in. in diameter. The included white ink makes it possible to print 4-color graphics on clear or colored substrates.

Leveraging efficiencies and lowering TCO

Prior to installing the Pro 16h printer, printing rigid-substrate jobs was a multi-step process at AlphaGraphics Portsmouth. The process involved printing adhesive vinyl on a roll-to-roll printer and manually mounting the printed sheets to boards.

“Every rigid material job involved cutting, applying vinyl, rolling through twice, and trimming everything,” said Oberg. “That multistep process is no longer needed for a majority of our orders, simplifying around 90% of our orders.”

The Pro 16h printer’s powerful UV LED technology is capable of printing directly on a wide range of substrates that cannot withstand high heat required for curing or drying with traditional UV or latex printers.

AlphaGraphics Portsmouth’s new prin ter features an EFI Fiery® proServer Core digital front end with FAST RIP acceleration technology that helps get work prepped and printed faster than before. The team was familiar with Fiery, having used it on its cut-sheet digital printers. Training helped the team adapt quickly to the new hybrid large-format device. “After install and training our staff really took to it,” said Carrier. “They saw the efficiencies and elimination of extra steps.”

Four hours of labor savings daily

The shop has already started to benefit from higher throughput and more reliable production turnaround. Printing at resolutions up to 1,200 dots per inch, the EFI Pro16h prints at a production speed of up to 311 square feet per hour in four colors, It also includes a high-quality, highly opaque white ink that gives AlphaGraphics Portsmouth more options to produce vibrant, full-color work on projects printed on clear or colored substrates.

Between the printer’s technical capabilities and the shop’s new ability to print direct to substrate, AlphaGraphics Portsmouth has saved about four hours in labor every day and eliminated the need for reprinted jobs that resulted from human error.

For more information about EFI’s advanced technologies for digital printing, visit www.efi.com.

Wallace Carlson Printing Adds EFI PrintFlow Dynamic Scheduling Software

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.

EFI PrintFlow Logo

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.”

About EFI

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)