Panoramic and Lean Productivity at SG360°
SG360° is one of the top direct mail printing companies in North America, serving a wide range of customers, including Fortune 500 companies. It currently employs more than 800 full-time staff, but it also employs a large number of temporary workers that varies based on the amount of work in their facilities in any given week.
SG360° runs different digital print devices to provide maximum flexibility and efficiency, including the Canon (Booth N1009) ProStream, Canon ColorStream 3700, HP (Booth C4256) Indigo 12000, HP Indigo 7600, and Canon imagePRESS 10000. Its near-line digital finishing capabilities range between UV coating, Challenge (Booth N323) cutters, Duplo (Booths N413, N423) bookletmaker, and additional small booklet and folding devices.
Q: Why did you start looking into Ultimate Technographics (Booth N848)?
A: John Zawisza, director of digital operations, SG360°: I ended up looking into Ultimate Impostrip as we started getting more and more daily and weekly projects. We no longer wanted to do the imposition on the front end because we preferred to focus on the ripping process, so we needed an upstream solution. Our volumes were increasing, and we needed a solution that could feed the press.
Ultimate Impostrip was familiar to me because I had used it in previous times, so I downloaded a demo, and I was really impressed how far along it has come. I was really impressed with the Dynamic Hot Folder driven workflow. It has allowed our operations to be much more flexible.
Q: When and how do you use Ultimate Impostrip?
A: Zawisza: Ultimate Impostrip runs everything in the digital division. Out of all the digital presses we use, everything is set up in Impostrip. I do see a big added value in using it because it’s hands-off software.
Once you create something in a hot folder, it doesn’t matter who gets the files, once they drop it in that hot folder it’s going to be imposed. When we used to do this manually, everyone had their own way of doing things. Ultimate Impostrip adds so much value in delivering consistency and ease of use.
Q: What about integrating the tool to other systems?
A: Zawisza: Most vendors will tell you they are JDF compliant, the thing is that JDF is an open architecture XML, which means that just because they are a JDF file, it doesn’t mean the JDFs talk to each other.
With Ultimate Impostrip, you can easily build dozens of JDF profiles and know how the information will be linked. Our goal is to explore doing even more automation with XML integration.
Q: How does lean and workflow fit in?
A: Zawisza: We went through a lean transformation a long time ago, and I don’t have staff allocated to every machine anymore: we now follow the work. In other words, my press man can simply pick up the job, drop it in the appropriate imposition flow, and feed their own process. Our team does not sit idle waiting for something to print.
We use Ultimate Impostrip to feed all our digital presses, running approximately 13-20 million clicks per month in total, so we feed it a lot of work. It can run 10-12 different jobs at the same time, and route them to the different presses. During this time, my prepress team focuses on more value-added work such as alterations, color corrections, and more.
Q: What benefits do you get from automating your imposition?
A: Zawisza: I eliminated most of my downtime on the presses. We are no longer waiting for files to come out because they need to be imposed. Having Ultimate Impostrip enables us to accumulate jobs, and now my people are pulling work in, instead of having jobs pushed at them.
Q: How did it scale your business?
A: Zawisza: It has grown with our production, and the fact that it allowed my entire department to grow was one thing that I didn’t have to worry about. When I’m getting new technologies in here as far as presses, new staff, and trying to adjust workflows, Ultimate Impostrip is one thing I do not have to worry about. We are able to throw anything at it and it will actually keep up and surpass the process.
Q: Where do you see your company in five years, and the future of direct mail?
A: Zawisza: The company will continue to grow. One of the big things is that we made an investment in digital printing, toner and inkjet, and I think this is good for the future.
Moreover, with all the issues going on in the world today, businesses having to open up and close down again, I think it’s going to actually drive more digitally printed direct mail, because there will be a smaller window for delivery, eliminating the three to six months lead time for a mail campaign.