Gurnee, IL -- Hutchison Allgood Printing has played a major role in the North Carolina community of Winston-Salem since 1931. The high-end lithographic and digital printer developed a reputation for its ability to not only tackle the toughest jobs, but to do them quickly and efficiently while achieving or exceeding high quality standards. Placing a premium on service has also helped mitigate the effects of the downturn in the economy. When Bill Cowan, VP - Manufacturing, needed a quantifiable way to improve production, he turned to GFI Innovations and bought the Mx6 Ink Formulation Dispenser.
Since installing the equipment in late July 2008, Cowan has realized several important benefits over the past 12 months and is looking for more to happen by the end of the year.
“The results have been very good. We saw within the first couple of months that we were going to accomplish our goals,” Cowan said. “We purchased the Mx6 so we could produce smaller batches of ink without overproducing and only when we needed it. After nearly a year, we are on target with our ROI.”
The bulk of Hutchison Allgood’s (www.haprinting.com) work is basic sheetfed printing. The private, family owned company generated sales of $12 million in 2008 and operates two Heidelberg 6-color presses from an 85,000 square-foot facility with 50-plus employees. While associated with Fortune 500 companies and national accounts, Cowan said the majority of his customers are within a 100 mile radius. Doing quick turnaround, short-run work for customers in the garment, banking and financial services, higher education, furniture, and manufacturing industries requires face time. Just as important is anticipating ink needs while keeping ahead of often hectic schedules.
“Ordering a minimum of five pounds of ink wasn’t working, given the time factor, transportation costs and putting three pounds of excess ink on the shelf,” said Cowan, who looked for a better solution in late 2007 and found it in Chicago.
“I attended Graph Expo, saw the Mx6 and was impressed,” recalled Cowan, a 37-year veteran of commercial and package printing. “I did my homework, talked to some people and realized this was the way the business had to change.”
Seeing an opportunity to revamp his process, Cowan set the wheels in motion but decided to check on what was available internationally when he visited drupa in June 2008. Convinced the best technology was stateside, he pulled the trigger on the Mx6 deal last June. “The determining factor was its track record and longevity with sheetfed ink,” Cowan said. “GFI has a good reputation and the product is well built and simple to operate. It’s been through a couple of generations so I felt it was a safe choice.”
And it has proven to be a wise investment. Cowan bought a proofer from another company and an X-RiteColor®Master system for mixing formulations to go with the Mx6 ink dispenser. Since they operate 24/4 and 13 hours on two other days, gone are the instances of being out of ink at 3 am or overestimating the amount for a job that winds up on a shelf for who knows how long.
“We usually average two pounds of ink per job but we’ve had to mix up to 100 or 120 pounds for some projects,” said Cowan, whose supervisors and press assistants have been trained to handle the dispenser. “The Mx6 is very repeatable with its measuring and recall, and it is very convenient and rather intuitive. It usually takes us only 10 or 15 minutes from start to finish in preparing ink for a job.”
As Cowan begins his second year of operation with the Mx6 dispenser, one of his first goals is to do something about his outstanding inventory.
“We did shrink some of our inventory but it hasn’t been a priority. It’s like an incurable cancer; we haven’t added to it but given the economy, we are more motivated now to remove it. With the kind of work we do, we have three or four variations of some colors up on our shelves. But the Mx6 is doing the job as advertised and I know it will be successful in helping us eliminate the excess inventory we have.”
GFI Innovations leads the industry in Ink Formulation Dispensing, including its patented Mx Series technologies. The company offers a range of dispensing systems and accessories for paste inks, along with advanced software for ink formulation and inventory management. For more information, contact Bob Wolff with The Drucker Group at 312.867.4960.
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