GFX International is using Inca Print Run Controller (PRC) software to help it take full advantage of digital print’s variable data capabilities, streamlining scheduling and production to better serve its retail clients.
GFX creates permanent and temporary graphics and displays for domestic and international brands and retailers. Their client base spans the foodservice industry, gas station/convenience stores, superstores, financial centers and specialty retailers. Located in Grayslake, Illinois, its staff of 181 delivers the full gamut of services from prepress including color management, to post-production including special finishing and custom fulfilment. GFX’s owns two Inca Onsets (the S70 and S50i), an Inca Spyder 320 and an Inca Columbia Turbo.
Digital printing can easily handle short runs, versioning and variable data. However, managing the logistics of variable data printing is often forgotten. With runs that change from piece to piece and are distributed to a variety of locations, keeping track of what goes where can be difficult.
GFX’s digital printing devices easily accommodated increased client requests for variable data services and versioning. However, the trick was managing the logistics of print run schedules and ensuring the right versions made it to the right location.
“We could offer digital print quality and understood variable data,” commented Greg Hilderbrand, pcitured below, GFX director of digital operations. “But the logistics were incredibly cumbersome. Jobs were collated manually in the GFX warehouse, and then shipped. It cost our clients money, and warehouse storage cost us money. We adapted to get by, but there was so much waste.”
During an Inca Onset demo with Fujifilm, Hilderbrand and his team were shown PRC software. “It was an epiphany,” remarked Hilderbrand. Fujifilm sells Inca’s digital presses and helped oversee PRC installation and set-up. Fujifilm also helped install the RIPs with all their presses. Along with PRC, the company simultaneously installed workflow automation. GFX creates the multipage PDF files on a separate workflow system and then uses PRC to add variable data and pricing.
One new client with over 1,700 locations had graphic requirements that included POP displays and price sheets. Digitally printed in-store displays are produced in different versions, reflecting price disparities determined by each franchisee. POP displays offer a picture and price of a menu offering, which are variable depending on the franchisee’s locale and what’s being promoted. Generic POP displays (not customized) are also sent to each store.
Using its workflow and Print Run Controller, GFX schedules and prints a multi-image, multi-region campaign in a pre-defined order, typically set up by delivery priority. “We save time on collation while eliminating operator error,” said Hilderbrand. Following printing and cutting, Hilderbrand runs a quality control checklist to identify the pieces for each store and where they will be delivered. Then the graphics are packed—in order—for each of the 1,700 locations.
Work for this particular client has expanded. GFX is also using the PRC to test market menus, offering different menus in different regions. “Offering this service has driven up their profits and allowed them more flexibility on the store level to market and try new things,” explained Hilderbrand. “Now, they are constantly conducting test markets.”
PRC software also helps keep the digital presses running. In fact, shared Hilderbrand, they never stop. Print runs are started and changed as quickly as files are prepared. The conversion to variable data is done up front to let GFX merge the data, and it allows the workflow to go to the next job. “We create a PDF file format, PRC takes the multipage PDF and submits the files to the RIP as required,” explained Hilderbrand. “We don’t have a RIP overload and it requires very little memory. PRC lets us print hundreds of pages at the same time that I am RIPping.”
Implementing PRC has reduced waste and has given Hilderbrand full control of the print process. “Our client has up to eight marketing promotions a year. We save on average 10-15 percent every time we run one, because of variable data,” said Hilderbrand. “If we make an error, our operators can go into PRC and pull the same info on the franchisee’s location to run specific displays, again.”
PRC, in combination with Inca Digital presses, lets Hilderbrand handle time pressures with ease. “I am printing on-demand and there is no pain to it,” he said. “Without PRC, I do not think we could be as successful and profitable,” added Hilderbrand. “It’s a must–have in the digital print industry.”