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Pictorial Offset--Reducing Costs Through Efficient Management

November 1998
The New York/New Jersey market is a territory where even the top companies must constantly battle to stay alive.

In this area, printing is an industry where the competition is especially fierce. Plagued by small margins and countless competitors, printing companies have found it essential to have effective and reliable management systems.

Carlstadt, NJ-based Pictorial Offset Corp. is a printer that epitomizes the gold standard for a customer-oriented approach to business. As one of the top 200 printers in the United States, Pictorial serves the metropolitan area by being the closest full-service web and sheetfed printer to Manhattan.

How has Pictorial set itself apart in such a difficult market? The managing partners of the company—Lester, Gary and Donald Samuels—attribute their success to consistent efforts to reduce costs while improving quality and service.

Started by their grandfather 60 years ago, Pictorial has grown to become a $50 million company. "We understand this market because we've been here for a long time," remarks Lester Samuels, who specializes in the business's financial operations. "We know that customers in this area demand tight deadlines and solutions that will meet the needs of their programs. We don't just strive to meet these needs; we make it happen no matter what. One of the ways we do this is by ensuring that operations are at peak efficiency in order to be productive and price competitive in comparison to the rest of the nation."

Pictorial has undergone a re-engineering effort to reduce internal costs. To help achieve that goal and manage the plant, Pictorial uses the Logic Management System. "Through Logic, we have the ability to reduce our overhead costs," says Samuels. "Instead of costly paper transactions between different departments, the Logic computer system decreases the amount of time involved in these transactions."

First, Job Costing helps Pictorial to track job status and crew performance. Press crews at Pictorial can view their Logic productivity reports to determine where they have been successful and what they need to improve.

Logic has also helped Pictorial eliminate 50 percent of its paperwork. "To do this, we're making the computer an integral part of job performance—no one will be able to do their job unless they use the computer. Then the dissemination of information will be even better," states Samuels.

Instant Answers
"One of our biggest to be able to answer any client's question on any phone, anywhere in the plant," adds Samuels.

JobWorks is a Logic extension program that Pictorial is implementing to help the company access customer information. JobWorks combines a user-defined electronic job ticket—one that Pictorial has customized to fit its specific needs—with all job-related information. By having access to computers throughout the plant, anyone can access the most current job information and quickly answer any client's questions about the job.

"No work can be done in this plant unless there has been a job ticket created," says Samuels. "Having the new electronic job ticket makes us more consistent."

The pressroom is another area where access to job information is critical. With three six-color webs and several four-, six-, and eight-color sheetfed presses, Pictorial produces jobs anywhere from 5,000 to 20 million impressions with an average turnaround time of five days. To keep track of all the information for the different jobs, Pictorial implemented Logic DMI on every press. Data collected directly from the press by DMI are displayed in the Logic PlantVista on PCs throughout the plant, giving an instant view of the production floor.

"DMI is one of the best pieces of technology," states Samuels. DMI links all production machines directly to the Logic system, and uses sensors and controllers to track counts and equipment-stops automatically. The result is extremely accurate gross and net counts as well as spoilage counts. With real-time information and job status at a glance, Pictorial's managers have immediate access to current production data, and its machine operators have immediate access to job schedules and job specifications.

DMI allows all of prepress as well as production to know the status of a job at any time. "We use it to determine scheduling such as in the prep department," Samuels continues. "If the plates aren't made, they can determine how much time they have just by looking at the screen. If they want to prioritize, they don't have to walk around the pressroom to figure that out. Everyone knows where they stand at any moment."

As an example, when a client calls and asks about a specific job on-press, Pictorial's production person looks at the screen and selects the press that is running that job to determine how many impressions are left to run. "What is most important to us is to give our clients the right information, at the time they need it. We won't tolerate keeping our customers waiting by having to get back to them when we can obtain the information so quickly and easily," remarks Samuels.

Logical Advantages
The advantages of the Logic systems are becoming clearer as Pictorial's 275 employees have just completed their computer training. "Everyone is finding that the management of jobs—both large and small—is easier. Anyone can find out about any piece of inventory that's on the floor. We are able to effectively manage and control odd items in smaller lots, such as leftover cartons and miscellaneous rolls, and reduce the amount of inventory, which has created more cash on hand."

Having Logic as a partner yields additional advantages to Pictorial other than just helping manage its business. Logic's User Meeting and the yearly releases are a plus, too. "The User Meetings are very good because we get to see new products and to meet and discuss details with other companies who use the system in order to benefit from one another," states Samuels.

Pictorial's philosophy of "never say no to a client" and "deliver ontime...every time" is demonstrated through its business management system. "The Logic system as a package is integral and allows us to meet the needs of our clients," says Samuels. "It lets me successfully manage my business on an ongoing basis by significantly reducing the internal transactional costs of running a business."

Maybe that is why Pictorial keeps its customers coming back.

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