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Meeting Demands

Brendan Perring asks: “The sign and graphics market is a diverse and technologically advanced sector, but is it still a growth industry and how is your company evolving to meet its demands?”

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Matt Driver, director, Tradesigns Fabrications

Communicate your success

Technology over the last 20 years has transformed the global market place in all industries. From machinery and software to simple day to day communication, Tradesigns makes sure operates the latest technologies to stay ahead of the market. We are always on the lookout for advances and breakthroughs in sign-making practices. Whether it is internal or external innovation, our goal is to implement and improve our quality, efficiency, and services to our customers.

In manufacturing, the problem we all try and avoid is downtime. Having the latest hardware technologies is expensive and reliability with new tech can be problematic. One policy we have at Tradesigns is we always buy two of everything after a new tech is implemented. By doing this any teething problems, breakdown, or servicing does not affect production and customer deadlines indefinitely, giving us the control of our technologies and not the other way around.

The problem we all try and avoid is downtime

The largest advances we have seen in technology over the last few years and recognise as probably the most important is the way we communicate, not just with our customers but internally also.

We have invested heavily in infrastructure and communication technologies, actually pushing and driving this sector forward with our own bespoke Sign Track System and on-line services.

From the way our customers are able to find us easily online, contact us through multiple applications and see their jobs made through our factory in complete transparency, it is an industry first.

This high level of technology development is bringing together many aspects of a modern day business into one transparent bubble. This allows us to work in a clear, transparent, and visible way with our clients and staff, reducing many problems that do occur in larger companies like miscommunication and accountability. It also allows us and the customers to see what is actually happening in real time—helping us or them to react when needed, quickly, and efficiently.

At Tradesigns we embrace change and by doing this we are constantly looking to evolve and meet industry demands. Technology is at the forefront of change and evolution, but this is also driven by people, one place we do invest heavily is the last piece of this puzzle—the staff. Without investing heavily in people, and getting them to evolve themselves and embrace the constant advances in technology, we would not be as advanced a company as we are today.

Responding to change

Paul Robinson, sales director, Industrial Adhesive Solutions (INDASOL)

Over the past ten plus years, INDASOL has been at the forefront of the ever-changing sign and graphics market landscape. We have seen the digital age gather pace, traditional signage techniques replaced with new methods and also the range of materials used in sign-making has changed dramatically. To help keep pace with this fast moving market, we have ourselves adapted our approach, our product range and our techniques.

To cope with the changing materials we have developed products such as ‘non read through’ locator bonder, high tack LED mounting tape and ‘all for one Signbonder’. We have also developed our own sign substrate Signblock to help cope with the needs of intricate, lightweight signage.

Our customers have become far-more dependent on fast turnarounds

Our customers have become increasingly dependent on fast turnarounds and in some cases same day deliveries to meet with their own customers’ demands.

As a result, we have invested in our new Cevenini slitter. This has allowed us to keep up with demand for bespoke slit rolls of tapes, foams, and UHB products. This investment has meant more jobs at INDASOL, greater flexibility, and demonstrates our commitment to the sign and graphics market.

Moving to newer and larger premises in 2012 also allowed greater stock holding and the flexibility to react quickly to our customer needs. We have also expanded and employed dedicated staff that understand the needs of the sign and graphics market and respond to their technical requirements.

We will continue to listen to our customers’ needs and work closely with them to ensure that our products are compatible with their substrates, offer added value to their projects, meet their cost expectations, and ultimately assist them in gaining more business. We also have further plans to invest in new technology to keep up with our customer demands.

Come and see us at Sign and Digital UK where we will be demonstrating some of our main products, offering technical advice, and giving away free samples on stand K37.

Maintaining margins

Marc Verbiest, international public relations manger, EFI

Diversification continues to be the key driver for sign-makers and display producers in the wide-format sector. More than ever, technology not only must keep up with present-day demands, but also it must always be one step ahead when considering future production capabilities. Growth these days depends increasingly on creativity and flexibility; it is valuable for users of wide-format printers to have a new set of criteria to add to their skills. They can achieve these aims by employing the right software and hardware that enables them to add new and innovative applications to their portfolios of services. The important element is not merely to be a ‘me too’ operation, but to offer customers output that is outside the standard remit for a sign and display.

EFI’s philosophy has always been to listen to its customers, and to work with them, so that the printers and software options developed by the company are designed and configured to address future requirements. While the wide-format market has seen tremendous growth during the past two decades, key for all users is the ability to maintain and improve margins so that production companies remain profitable and efficient. Although heavy emphasis is always put onto the print device, the software elements running in the background are also vital to the generation of accurate throughput that combines speed and accuracy. It is the combination of an effective digital front end (DFE) and a reliable output device that provides the marriage of components that leads to perfect results every time.

It is valuable for users of wide-format printers to have a new set of criteria to add to their skills

EFI’s awareness of, and emphasis on, the future has always played a key role in shaping the types of wide-format printers that are available for the sign and display industries. However, the company’s technologies are based on a strong and powerful heritage of producing the right machines for its customers that accommodate the changing requirements needed by production businesses. For example, the dramatic growth in LED curing provides a strong example of the way trends can be addressed that cover lower running costs, greater versatility across different materials, and greener working practices. Likewise, by ensuring that Fiery proServer provides the most efficient productivity software, end-to-end workflow consistency is guaranteed, and this also reduces waste and eliminates margin for error.

To make a success of wide-format digital print, individual businesses need to channel their own growth strategies by finding market areas where their skills add value to the jobs they produce. This side of the industry is still growing but manufacturers must play their part in simplifying and making available opportunities for their customers which, in turn, can be passed onto the end clients.

Moving on up

Willy Van Dromme, director of marketing for sign and display, Agfa Graphics

It is a fair statement to say that the sign and graphics business has always been extremely diverse and technologically advanced. With the advent of new technologies like inkjet and digital alternatives, dramatic changes occur all the time. Indeed, some are more inclined to be revolutionary more than evolutionary. But the changes are not only thanks to technical advancement. Today economic factors can have an impact on innovation and in the fast moving sign and display markets; this is no different than any other industry.

Agfa Graphics’ focus is on the wide-format UV inkjet and we see a clear trend to globalisation in an environment that is maturing. While quality and speed is expected and size has no limits, the industry is moving up market. More and more professional sign and display printers can be compared to real manufacturing sites. They operate multiple printing machines, benefit from an integrated workflow with connection to management information (MIS) systems, apply automatic colour management and/or ink saving tools and receive the majority of their jobs via web to print or online channels.

While quality and speed is expected and size has no limits, the industry is moving up market

Sign and display is not restricted just to publicity signs only. It now includes printing on almost any kind of material for the widest variety of applications. Not only is the printer or the ink technology the whole solution. It includes the complete Asanti workflow to drive Anapurna and Jeti machines or printers from other vendors. With the Asanti Production software the process becomes fully automated including a pre-flight facility of the incoming files and the colour management to allow for a consistent and repeatable output to all the devices. To complete the full production cycle, Asanti connects to a wide range of finishing equipment from Agfa or from other vendors.
Agfa Graphics’ choice for UV ink based wide-format printers was a deliberate decision to go for a clean technology with the broadest application potential.

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