Wallace Carlson Sees Automation Gains with EFI MIS/ERP Workflow
In 2015, Wallace Carlson Printing found it could do more with less, consolidating work done on three offset presses to a single, highly advanced offset press that provided more overall capacity. Now, the Minnetonka, Minn.-based business is working to make the most of its state-of-the-art production operation, boosting automation throughout the plant with a new Midmarket Print Suite software workflow from Electronics For Imaging Inc. (EFI).
According to Wallace Carlson executives, the workflow software purchase was a carefully considered decision. “We spent a fair amount of time researching, and did a lot of due diligence,” says Charlie Cox, chief operating officer and partner, Wallace Carlson Printing. In the end, he adds, what really sold them on the EFI™ offering was the service and support the company offers on every product sold.
In addition, the Midmarket Print Suite, which features EFI Pace™ as its core MIS/ERP software, had a number of features and components that meet the company’s exact needs. “It streamlines the equipment and there is a lot of automation,” said Cox. “It seemed like a natural fit. Plus, there are a lot of individualized components within the Midmarket Print Suite that we felt we would really reap some benefit from.”
A new workflow for a new era of streamlined productivity
The new workflow is the latest step in a rapid evolution at Wallace Carlson Printing. The company as it stands today got its start in 1986 in the garage of Ann and Brian Turbeville under the name Lightning Printing. After only a year, they started expanding, eventually opening two locations. But then the digital revolution started to happen.
“Everything was changing,” says Brian Turbeville. “People didn’t need their little corner print shop anymore, so we started looking for new ways to grow.”
In 2005, the Turbevilles purchased another local print business, Wallace Carlson Printing, taking over the brand name and further expanding the range of services and offerings they could provide. Today, the 50+ employee company specializes in catalog and packaging printing using its new, eight-color offset perfector press with H-UV inks and Aqueous or UV coating, along with a broad range of finishing, mailing and other equipment.
The company also has three digital presses – a Konica Minolta® bizhub® Press C1100; a Ricoh® Pro C5100s; and a monochrome Ricoh 8120 – and uses EFI Fiery® digital front ends (DFEs) to manage its digital production operations. When Wallace Carlson Printing goes live with its Midmarket Print Suite workflow in the first half of 2017, the company will be able to integrate its Fiery Driven™ devices into the Midmarket Suite for uniform, efficient management and tracking of both offset and digital from a single MIS/ERP platform.
The new, more holistic approach to workflow Wallace Carlson Printing is undertaking with the Midmarket Print Suite represents the next step in an important evolution to become a highly automated operation.
Brian Turbeville, who is president of Wallace Carlson Printing, says, “We went from three commercial presses last year down to just one large press, which actually opened up capacity. The new press is more automated, and more technology-based, with jobs getting fewer manual touches, and spending less time in the shop. We then expanded the automation and streamlining to the bindery, the RIPs and the prepress department. Now it is time to tie all of those systems together into a single operation, and that’s where EFI comes in.”
Advanced planning, impositioning and shipping for faster results
Utilizing an advanced planning and impositioning software component purchased as part of the Suite, Wallace Carlson Printing will have a streamlined flow of information to create more-comprehensive production plans. And, as a result, the company will be able to give more accurate estimates in both cost and turnaround time, plus staff will have more-detailed plans of what needs to happen every time a job hits the shop floor.
Another Suite component, for shipping management, will eliminate delays stemming from duplicate order entry processes.
“Shipping has been black hole of the shop – jobs would be done and ready to go, but shipping was looking for information,” says Turbeville. “The bottleneck is having shipping staff rekey all the information, create the labels, etc.
“Now, we’ll be pushing the process of shipping all the way back to the planning side,” he adds. Having shipping information managed once in the early stages of job creation and then shared throughout the plant will help ensure staff can send work out as soon as jobs are complete.
After all the upgrades of the last year and a half – nearly $4 million in equipment and operations investments – the next 12 months at Wallace Carlson will be more focused on training and reworking processes and procedures to ensure the company is getting the most out of every system it has installed.
“It’s a natural fit for us to speed up our workflow to match the investment in the technology we have had everywhere else in our operations,” Cox states. “We are firm believers that you have to stay out in front of the technology. That’s not a cheap game, but that’s what you have to do to win.”
Printing and packaging professionals across the globe rely on EFI’s portfolio of workflow products to manage their businesses and become more streamlined, efficient, informed and profitable.