Flatbed Printers Save Money, Boost Business for Gaming In-plant
As both an in-plant and a commercial printer serving local businesses in Montgomery and Atmore, Ala., PCI Printing is equipped to handle a range of jobs. Until recently, however, it faced a dilemma every time it produced foam core signs for its parent company — Wind Creek Hospitality, the principal gaming and hospitality enterprise of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians — or for any of its outside customers. The time and effort required to produce the signs resulted in a significant waste of time and money.
“I had to print on a gloss vinyl with an adhesive back and stick it onto the foam core,” Adam Nix, production supervisor at PCI, explains.
It was intensive exercise that involved waiting 15 to 20 minutes for the ink to dry before gluing the vinyl to the board, and then waiting another eight hours if the job needed lamination.
Not only was production time and cost a factor in needing a new solution, PCI was also coping with labor issues. With the amount of work coming in, PCI Printing is in the enviable position of being the only printer in Atmore and its surrounding area. Its closest competitor is more than an hour’s drive away. However, finding operators to run the outdated and inefficient production systems was challenging.
“We get a lot of business, but my main challenge was staff size. It’s hard to find anybody with experience running equipment,” Nix says. “We couldn’t keep up with demand with the staff level we had.”
PCI Printing was incurring a lot of overtime as a result of staff shortages and the time-wasting mounting procedures for the foam core work. Nix and his staff were overburdened, and since they had difficulty meeting customer demand, the company was also outsourcing a substantial amount of printing. All of these challenges and inefficiencies increased turnaround time, erased profits on existing jobs, and limited the ability of the in-plant to take on more business and grow.
“I already used EFI Fiery DFEs, and I knew EFI’s reputation in the industry,” Nix says. “Knowing all of that made the decision to add the EFI printer even easier.”
The first printer was installed at its Mongomery in-plant location and a short time afterwards, a second was added at its Atmore location after Nix saw the device’s quality and capabilities. PCI Printing’s new EFI LED printer model prints in four colors plus white at a production speed of 311 sq. ft. per hour with up to 1,200-dpi output.
The two EFI wide-format printers delivered everything PCI Printing was looking for. According to Nix, the company has streamlined production, increased output and become more profitable. Printing time has been cut in half on most wide-format print jobs. Nix can, for example, print three, double-sided, 24x36˝ foam boards for the casinos in about 10 minutes, a vast improvement over the 30 to 45 minutes it used to take. He can also print directly onto substrates up to 2˝ thick.
The devices also provide ink that cures instantaneously, lower ink costs, lower running costs (because of the need for less power and the fact that the devices generate less heat than PCI Printing’s previous devices) and fantastic quality and color output.
Work that used to be outsourced, which Nix estimates to be about 15 to 20% of total revenue, has come back in-house. Prior to adding the two EFI Pro 16h devices, PCI was outsourcing all of its banners and Coroplast (corrugated plastic) work, which was used for jobs — such as political and real estate signs — both for its in-plant and commercial side. Now, PCI can produce all of that work in-house, even providing customers with same-day turnaround.
Although PCI’s wide-format work comprises about 75% of its business, it still has plenty of time and manpower to complete its long list of other work for Wind Creek Hospitality and local businesses, which includes invitations, letterheads, full-color envelopes, forms, brochures, booklets, magazines, business cards and, as Nix proclaims, “anything that you can think of to print.”
Nix can now comfortably run both locations with the four employees at hand, while cutting back on the draining 70-hour work weeks he and his staff were putting in.
“We can now increase output to meet demand without expanding our staff, deliver jobs more quickly, cut costs, eliminate wasted time and reach a higher level of profitability,” Nix says. “I love having the machines. They’re great.”