FREMONT, California – Printing is just one of many services Gilson Graphics offers, so when the time came to upgrade its offerings, the company focused on getting versatility, flexibility and efficiency not just in output, but also in the entire integrated workflow.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company has truly raised the level of what it can offer to customers with several new technology purchases from Electronics For Imaging. Gilson’s fast-growing superwide-format inkjet graphics operation now has the versatile and energy-efficient EFI™ VUTEk® LX3 Pro hybrid roll/flatbed LED printer, complete with an EFI Fiery® proServerPremium digital front end (DFE).
Gilson Graphics uses EFI Fiery DFEs and Fiery Central integration hub software in some of its cut-sheet digital printing operations. Plus, the company is making comprehensive improvements in its company-wide production workflow, upgrading to the latest-version EFI Midmarket Print Suite. The Suite is built around the core EFI Pace™ MIS/ERP technology and features new tools that will allow Gilson Graphics to integrate and efficiently manage superwide-format graphics printing and its entire range of general commercial print offerings. The company also has taken advantage of advanced components in the workflow suite for shop-floor data collection, fulfillment, marketing automation, web-to-print and more.
The broad range of technologies at Gilson is fitting for a one-stop shop that offers integrated marketing solutions to meet all of its customers’ business needs, from composition to fulfillment.
“Our model is to be vertical centric,” explains Gilson Graphics Vice President of Operations David Oswald Sr. The company has had some of its biggest successes servicing high-quality retail and manufacturing industry clients that do not want to compromise on quality or delivery times. In the past few years, Gilson’s customer base of large retailers has grown dramatically because of the company’s expanded capabilities and offerings.
Staying ahead of superwide-format demand
In each of the past few years, Gilson has grown 35 percent, expanding from one shift per day to operating 24 hours a day, six days a week. The company’s strong marketing and customer service with retailers has generated even greater demand for superwide-format graphics, which left the company looking for a way to handle a larger volume of work.
The new VUTEk LED printer was the ideal choice for a variety of reasons. One is that Gilson has had an excellent partnership with EFI for a number of years, according to Oswald. Company executives also liked that the printer and its Fiery DFE integrate with the Midmarket Suite MIS Gilson Graphics already uses.
“The integration between Fiery and the Midmarket Suite is important to us in that it requires only one touch point for data collection and inventory management,” Oswald said. “That’s a nice bonus and from an efficiency standpoint saves me time because I’m tied into a system that my team already understands and utilizes.”
The VUTEk LX3 Pro printer – superior in meaningful ways
Gilson’s new VUTEk printer is a versatile 3.2-meter hybrid roll/flatbed device that can print on materials up to two inches thick in eight colors plus white, and can do multilayer printing in resolutions of true 600 or 1000 dpi. It also features 12pL grayscale print and energy-efficient, “cool cure” LED imaging. The printer’s ability to do both flatbed and roll work at speeds up 3,400 square feet, or 94 boards, per hour, was a major consideration and selling factor.
“We began looking at devices that would fit both roll and sheet capabilities. When we looked at them independently we found the VUTEk to be better in certain areas that were meaningful to us, such as the superior white ink capability and the ability to run corrugated at high speeds in flat sheets, which is very unusual,” Oswald explained. “So we looked at it in its totality and when we determined it had the roll capabilities to improve our current workflow, the flat sheet capability to increase and improve our current workflow, and the ability to integrate from a software management standpoint, those three components drew us to make the decision to buy the VUTEk over others.”
Immediately after installation and training, Gilson put its new printer to work this summer and was off to a great start with a nice volume of flatbed jobs. The company’s customers were clamoring for more, Oswald said.
The Fiery DFE used with the printer will help the company run its graphics department more efficiently, particularly because of its ability to analyze submitted jobs. Job data will be communicated directly into the new Midmarket Suite Gilson is adding, so the company will have better information for calculating ink usage – one of the largest cost factors in a superwide-graphics print operation – to factor into future estimating.
“I can work with my customers to keep better cost controls because I have better data on ink usage. I never had that before. I could get an idea what the ink would cost, but it was not accurate,” says Oswald. “Now I can be very accurate and we think that’s going to be a very good collaborative tool that others won’t be able to offer.”