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Case Study

Signtech – the Channel Islands’ leading visual communications company.

With the help of PrintFactory, leading signage company Signtech has transformed their workflow – achieving consistent colour output across devices and boosting production by 25%. Harnessing PrintFactory’s cloud-based solution has also had the hidden impact of improving staff morale as a result of efficiency gains that have significantly reduced overtime.  

BACKGROUND

As the Channel Islands’ leading visual communications company, Signtech has over 20 years’ experience providing services from design and print to manufacturing, service and installation.

The company’s 20-strong team works across three wide-format printers: a HP Latex 570, a Mutoh ValueJet 1638X and a swissQprint Impala 2 – to create high-quality signage, wrapping and road-marking solutions for businesses across the Channel Islands.

KEY ISSUES

  • Inconsistent colour output and reproduction
  • Media and ink wastage as result of chasing the right colour
  • Significant overtime required to meet quality standards
  • Only highly skilled staff could correct colour
  • Confidence affected amongst production team as result of troubleshooting

THE CHALLENGE

To remain competitive in the signage sector, a print business’ colour and image quality must meet high print buyer and brand standards. Therefore it’s essential that outputted colour is identical to the proof – whether jobs are produced minutes or years apart.

Operating flatbed and roll-to-roll printers using UV, eco-solvent and latex inks, and printing onto a range of different media, achieving consistent colour reproduction was a recurring challenge for Signtech. Occasionally, when creating colour profiles for jobs, what was on screen did not accurately match the output on Signtech’s printers, requiring time-consuming changes to be made and stalling productivity on the shop floor.

While printer colour drift is an inevitable result of environmental conditions, equipment wear-and-tear, and stock and substrate changes, Signtech’s existing colour management solution did not account for these differences. Once a job’s colour profile had been finalised and printed to standard for the first run, when the time came to reproduce the job months down the line Signtech experienced difficulties matching colours to the original run.

As a result, further colour management, troubleshooting and device recalibration was required to match colours, creating an additional bottleneck in the workflow.

Due to the complexity of Signtech’s colour management software, only highly-skilled staff members could operate the system and correct colour when inconsistencies occurred.

A hidden impact of these challenges was the effect on workforce morale. Staff had become frustrated with the frequency of inconsistent colour output on jobs, which had a knock-on effect on their confidence and hampered productivity. Compounding this issue was the overtime needed to troubleshoot and tweak jobs in order to meet quality standards.

The continued testing and tweaking of jobs to match colours caused significant time, ink and media wastage – creating additional costs for the signage company.

SOLUTION

Prior to onboarding PrintFactory, Signtech had tried and tested a number of different workflow solutions in a bid to overcome its colour management bottlenecks.

After researching colour management and workflow solutions for the wide-format and signage market, Signtech chose the PrintFactory solution, opting for its software as a service (SaaS) product.

The PrintFactory team worked closely with Signtech ahead of the deployment to ensure no disruptions to output and were onsite during installation to support with device set-up and calibration. This support has continued throughout the project, with the PrintFactory team providing several on-site staff training sessions.

SOLUTION

Since committing to the PrintFactory solution, print production at Signtech has been taken to another level. Gone are the costly bottlenecks caused by colour management challenges, replaced with a more streamlined and productive workflow that has enabled Signtech to boost production by 25%.

Powered by the VISU engine, PrintFactory’s advanced colour management toolkit and DeviceLink profiling technology has supported Signtech to match colour and produce consistent results across devices and substrates. With more accurate conversions and a colour output that matches visuals and proofs on the first print, Signtech no longer has the need for additional troubleshooting cycles, which has saved operator time and boosted productivity.

PrintFactory’s intuitive and easy-to-use colour management tools mean that Signtech no longer needs to rely on a colour expert to achieve accurate colour output. The ability to create DeviceLink profiles in under 10 minutes with PrintFactory’s profiling wizard has enabled Signtech’s print operators to take ownership of the colour management process and output accurate colour first time, every time. This has unified and boosted the confidence of the production team, something Sean Guegan, Managing Director at Signtech, believes is reflected in the quality of the company’s work.

As DeviceLink profiles are frozen in what is called a ‘a golden state’, PrintFactory’s intelligent device recalibration means printers affected by colour drift can be recalibrated to match the original job colour quality in a couple of clicks. This has helped Signtech to output identical colours when a job is reproduced months after the original – saving valuable time and resources.

In addition to the ink savings made by matching colours correctly, PrintFactory’s EcoSave module has delivered further ink savings for Signtech, putting down lower levels of ink without compromising on colour fidelity.

Sean Guegan commented: “It can always be something of a leap of faith to onboard new software, but deploying PrintFactory has without question been the right move for us.

More from Sean Guegan

“The difference between PrintFactory and our previous workflow solutions is night and day. Before, our staff were putting in overtime nearly every day to achieve the right colour. Now – thanks to PrintFactory’s intuitive and user-friendly tools – the overtime has been reduced, our staff are much more confident and the quality of our output is unmatched. It’s sped up our whole workflow, made it more streamlined and created much more productivity from the same amount of input.

“It’s taken Signtech to another level. Customers are coming to us for quality that our competitors just can’t beat. Everything PrintFactory promised has been achieved and they have backed this up with efficient support. Simply put, we can’t do without it.”

Case Study

‘The only software for textile printing’: A bespoke printing solution for Artex

PrintFactory software has supported premium textile manufacturer Artex to achieve consistent colour output and enhanced productivity with an automated workflow solution that has led to consistency in color reproduction and significant savings on media wastage costs.  

BACKGROUND

A leading manufacturer of fabrics for sunshade products, curtains and upholstery, Artex has a long standing reputation for its innovative, high-quality craftsmanship. Based in Aarle-Rixtel in the Netherlands, Artex was founded in 1947 and is part of the multi-national Hunter Douglas Group, the global market leader in window coverings.

The company currently work with two designer departments who prepare outputs for textile printing on curtains, roller blinds and pleated blinds. Approximately 98 percent of print jobs processed by the company are completed digitally, with the other two percent created and finished via conventional methods.

KEY ISSUES

  • Market-wide sample books require reproductions to be identical
  • Difficult to define color profiles for different fabrics in individual roll units

THE CHALLENGE

Prior to installing the PrintFactory platform, Artex operated six roll-to-roll digital printers for short runs to produce fabric for pleated and roller blinds on different materials, including sheer, blackout and translucent fabrics. Working across a range of textiles, one of the main challenges was guaranteeing consistency in color production and therefore preventing excess media wastage.

With a vast number of textile sample books in circulation all featuring subtly different shades and patterns , accurate color reproduction is of the utmost importance. Artex therefore needed to be confident that the final output would always be identical to sample provided. However, printing onto different fabrics using different machines was making it difficult for Artex to define color profiles for each roll unit – a problem further compounded by the lack of print software design tools tailored to meet the unique needs of interior décor printers.

If the final output was different to the provided sample, the job would have to go through a troubleshooting process before being reprinted, wasting costly time, ink and media.

Studio Manager at Artex, Carla Rennings commented:

“When working with textiles, one piece of white fabric may not be the same shade as another piece of white fabric. PrintFactory’s ability to calculate and compensate for these differences automatically is a huge advantage –  removing the need for troubleshooting and saving valuable time. We’ve also had some fantastic feedback from our customers since we’ve introduced the software. In one case, a customer was so impressed with the quality of print on our pleated fabrics they wanted to see if we could achieve same results with roller blinds, and of course, with the help of PrintFactory – we could!”

SOLUTION

Upon purchase of two new devices for its digital printing division, Artex deployed the PrintFactory solution on a software as a service (SaaS) basis, with all upgrades automatically administered and data automatically backed in for easy recovery in case of service disruption.

With a focus on color management and productivity, Artex implemented three key PrintFactory tools:

  • PrintFactory’s automated workflow solution, offering a means to reproduce color across different substrates and devices automatically
  • PrintFactory’s VISU editor to assist preparation of interior décor designs for customers
  • PrintFactory Cloud, which offers users full control over every facet of the production process

RESULTS

Since upgrading its printer fleet and introducing the PrintFactory software, Artex has achieved consistent, accurate color reproduction and saved significantly on media wastage costs thanks to the software’s smart color management tools and automated workflow processes.

During the implementation process, the local PrintFactory service team supported Artex with onsite visits and training, and have continued to provide assistance throughout the deployment, responding to queries as they arise and performing in-depth investigations to ensure that any issues are resolved swiftly.

When printing on different fabrics and devices, PrintFactory ensures that Artex is able to promise its customers reliable color outputs time and time again. The software’s smart color profile creation and automatic device calibration is able to compensate for the differences between fabrics and calculate the color output accurately for each device and material, meaning that Artex is able to produce consistent results no matter what fabric or printer used.

Thanks to PrintFactory’s automated workflow processes, if a printer goes down on the production floor, jobs can be automatically redirected to the department’s second device to produce the same results – without the need for a troubleshooting phase. By automating its processes and removing the need to manually check and recalibrate jobs, Artex has been able to boost productivity and operate more efficiently.

Artex’s production team has embraced the data-driven insights provided by PrintFactory’s browser-based reporting tool. By monitoring ink usage and media usage through the cloud dashboard, Artex can calculate more accurate costings per job and, as a result, is able to offer more and more competitive proposition to potential customers.

More from Carla Rennings

Following feedback from Artex, the PrintFactory team also created bespoke tools within the VISU editor to optimize the tool for interior décor printing. These features have become invaluable to the company in providing bespoke services to customers, such as preparing tailored textile designs and laying out items such as sample books and catalogue pages. Carla summarized the benefits of PrintFactory saying, “By producing a reliable and consistent color output no matter the fabric, PrintFactory is a great software for textile printing.”