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Case Studies

Argent Tape & Label  

Domino N610i

“I wanted the best. I wanted something that wasn’t going to change overnight. I wanted a company that was going to support us, and if you read what the economists say, now is the time to position your company for growth. I see that with Domino. I see Domino as wanting to be a partner.” – Lynn Perenic, President & CEO

Tell me about Argent Tape & Label

Lynn: Argent Tape & Label was purchased by my husband Fred Perenic in 1995. It was primarily pharmaceutical with its primary customer being Upjohn. That’s when things started to go wrong. Upjohn was acquired by Pharmacia, which was bought by Merck, which was bought by Pfizer and so the business that they had, which was a $6 million business, started floundering. They didn’t have a business plan. The business plan they had was RFID labels which never really did take off. By 2007 things were looking pretty bleak. I entered the picture in 2009 / 2010 and Fred was going to close the business. It was down to one working press and three employees, and I decided that I could save the business. I’m stupid and arrogant. And so without all of the facts I dove in head first to save this company. I adopted Open Book Management and I did everything I could…I took classes at the University level. I took classes at the local level. I read about 30 business books. I went to seminars. And I had meetings. I got to know exactly how the business ran and what I needed to do to make it work, because I was not going to embarrass myself and fail. So that’s where we started.

From Open Book Management, I can’t begin to tell you how it changed the thinking of the employees. They started buying in, they had ‘ownership-type thinking’, and they each had business cards. We had pressman that went out to sell. Anywhere we could find. We were selling everywhere. And we slowly became profitable. And then came their first Gain Share check, in which I keep 76% in the business and 24% is equally distributed amongst the employees. The first Gain Share check was $15. One of my pressman gave it back to me and told me that the company needed it more than he did. So it really started building a culture of ownership and a culture of sharing and it turned a corner.

The Open Book Management teaches financial literacy to your employees so that they understand the business, they know where the money is coming from, they understand a P&L, and they understand an income statement. And those are things that we teach on a quarterly basis and are reinforced once a week in our weekly huddle. Each of our employees owns a line on the income statement and reports on that line.

So from one press and three employees to what is the current state today?

Lynn: Today we have nine presses and 16 employees. We have eight flexo presses, plus now the new Domino N610i digital press, so quite a difference from where we once were. Of the 16 employees, four of them are pressmen. Our pressmen, who work by the hour, are typically not interested in how fast they work however when you teach them about efficiencies and profitability, you will be surprised how quickly they can get a job out.

When I took over, Sales were $790,000 and a lot of that came from the sale of equipment. We closed out 2015 at $4.7M, so we really have been growing.

Is the Domino N610i your first digital press?

Lynn: I had bought a small desktop digital printer…that was a bad purchase. We’ve all made them, we have to admit it. And there I was buying this bad digital desktop printer. It was cheap. It was a mistake. So yes, the Domino is our first digital “production” press and it has a Delta ModTech finishing system running in-line…40 fabulous feet!

Paul: The Domino and Delta ModTech can run together or they can run separate. We have a semi-rotary station. We can do some overlams, we can do some priming of the materials if needed, and we also have a laser system available offline as well.

Tell me about the types of labels that Argent Tape & Labels produces.

Lynn: We produce 45 million labels per year. About 75% of our business is for the automotive industry. We also serve the Food & Beverage industry, Medical labels for hospitals, and Industrial.

Tell me about the requirements and demands from your customers.

Kevin H. Our customers require labels for branding…that is the primary purpose of most of what we do here is Prime label. We also do a fair amount of variable data for chain of custody or tracking. Sometimes we combine the variable data capability with a brand. So branding and identification for the markets that we talked about are the primary labeling requirements. We also do use labels for couponing, promotional applications. Label-on label-combinations. Promotional labels to support the branding.

How did you get started with Domino?

Lynn: It was the first thing that drew me to the Domino. More and more, the automotive industry is moving toward a “zero-defect” standard. They want you to give them labels and materials defect-free. It’s easy to think “if you get a bad label, just throw it away” but that’s not the way it works. For our company, it can be very expensive if we provide defective labels to our customers. They want you to do 200% inspection, so do the hourly on what that is going to cost. Then you get a third-party inspector to inspect the labels, and they will have you on that containment for 6 months, even if you have seven bad labels out of a million.

It sounds like these are mission critical applications that you are producing labels for.

Lynn: Well, they are warning labels, but because their standards are so stringent, it can be something such as a smeared color…even if you can read the label, if the color is smeared it is still considered a defect. They want proofperfect labels on their product every time.

I sat in our weekly huddle today, and one of our rewind personnel told me that she did the math regarding a Denso automotive label that we printed flexo. It had a defect and it cost us $288 just in material. We lost $288 on that job. So until we get back in their good graces, we have to do this 200% inspection. That right there was a driver for us going to the digital label press with Domino.

Why did that point you in the direction of going digital and specifically with Domino?

Lynn: I’ve been keeping my eye on Domino for quite some time. I’ve been watching all of them. Epson, HP, Jetrion, etc. I’ve gone to the trade shows, I’ve read the articles in the journals, and I like what Domino has to say. Domino says what they do, and they do what they say. A lot of their salespeople come from the flexo world, so they are knowledgeable about what I’m experiencing.

So why Domino? I like the quality. I like the service they offer. I like that it’s not a pay-per-click. I like all of that. And I like they can integrate with Delta ModTech for our finishing. We have several Delta machines in our facility, we are very familiar and comfortable with Delta and we like that Domino has a good partnership with Delta.

With flexo, there can be a lot of scrap. We talked today about some of the scrap that we have had. On a particular project there was $3,500 in scrapped material (not including labor). When we visited Domino in Gurnee, IL we brought this job and material with us. It is 3M™ material, and it ran beautifully.

Where there any other trends or drivers that had you thinking of going digital?

Lynn: Shorter runs were also a consideration because if you were around in 2008 & 2009 and you were in automotive, you were jumping off buildings because things were bad. And so I never wanted to have Argent Tape & Label’s eggs all in one basket, meaning that we had to diversify. And if you are going to diversify, you have to look toward the markets. Food & beverage was one of the areas we chose to dive into, but they are short runs with many SKUs. Many times, they may be entrepreneurs bringing a new product to market, and they are creative, so they may have a six color process label that is really fabulous, but they don’t realize that they are going to have to pay for a number of plates, the ink, the dye, etc. and by the time you work up a quote for them, they see all of the charges and they freak out. And they might only need 1,000 labels. So we really wanted to acquire equipment that could address that situation, while still getting us into the food & beverage market, so digital was the way to go.

When was it from a timeline standpoint that you started thinking about digital and started vetting digital presses?

Lynn: I started looking about four years ago and I started looking at the Jetrion. I would see our competitors that had a Jetrion or an HP, so I started doing the research. In my findings, Domino is head and shoulders above all of the other digital press manufacturers.

Tell me about your visit to Domino in Gurnee, IL

Lynn: Everyone could not have been nicer and forthcoming with information….willing to show us all aspects of the press. I was very impressed with the entire team. And one of our salespeople also went to Domino as well so that she could see the Domino N610i for herself. She is breaking into the food & beverage market and she wanted to be able to go back to her customers and tell them about the Domino. The team at Domino was very welcoming.

Do you anticipate any changes in the types of label jobs that your sales team goes after?

Lynn: The Domino is a game-changer for us. As one of my salespeople said, we can now go after label jobs that we could never go after before. It opens new markets for us. I see my sales team as being energized and excited, and focused on all of the things we can do…all of the possibilities that the Domino opens up for us.

Are there certain jobs you have in mind that you will migrate to the Domino?

Lynn: We do. We have been costing jobs, comparing digital vs. flexo. We have also been teaming with 3M. We are a 3M Platinum Preferred converter, we buy about $4M/year in material from 3M, and their people are excited to come up and see the Domino press and brainstorm with us on markets that we can enter together. They are a very strategic partner of ours.

What have you found comparing costs to run jobs on the Domino vs. flexo?

Lynn: We just had the Domino representative work with us on the costing model. We could see exactly where the crossover points are on Domino digital vs. flexo, the margins, etc. And the margins on digital are fantastic when you have the right mix…the number of SKUs, the length of the job run, etc. And being able to run 13” material vs. 6” material…it makes us more profitable.

Some of our flexo presses are only 6” wide, so we can run more labels across with the Domino. We costed it out. As an example, a vodka label. 13”…to run five labels…five different versions… 1,000 of each label it took only four minutes. Ten minutes of set-up time, four minutes of run time on the Domino. That’s huge! Flexo would have been hours. Then there would have been clean-up. So we are talking minutes with the Domino vs. hours on the flexo.

Paul: From a costing standpoint, when we run a quote for a customer, as long as we have the file we can rip it through and it goes through the ink calculations, then it goes right to our estimating group so we know exactly where we are and there are no surprises downstream. Whereas with flexo, it has always been difficult to estimate cost because of the material waste…100 feet, 200 feet of material. We ask ourselves how much are we going to scrap every time we set up on flexo? With the Domino we know exactly where we are.

Tell me about the cost justification process when deciding to purchase the Domino.

Lynn: I wanted the best. I wanted something that wasn’t going to change overnight. I wanted a company that was going to support us, and if you read what the economists say, now is the time to position your company for growth. I see that with Domino. I see Domino as wanting to be a partner. The British gentleman, David Ellen, told me that this is the beginning of a relationship. We didn’t feel like we were going to buy this press, and Domino would just disappear. We felt like Domino would be our partner.

It sounds like there is a lot of excitement with the new Domino press.

Lynn: We built a separate room, put up new walls, new ventilation, redid the floors. We are very excited by the Domino. Kudos to the Domino team. Not only do they have fantastic equipment, but they have forged partners with some pretty impressive companies such as Delta ModTech. I am thrilled with Domino and everything they have to offer.

Have you noticed a change in the type of label jobs that you run due to the capabilities of the Domino N610i?

Lynn: Absolutely. We’ve had an increase in short-run food & beverage as we are trying to increase our footprint in that industry. The other benefit and change is that the Domino is very different than flexo. There are certain materials in the automotive industry, that we would normally run flexo that were not meant for flexo. One of them is the 3M 7871 and 3M Honeycomb. Those are perfect label materials for under the hood of a vehicle, but not perfect for running on flexo because of ‘adhesive ooze’. So there was a scrap factor. With the Domino, it prints on that material beautifully. We will have that at our Open House, we will be debuting that.

Our ability to produce a ‘zero-defect’ label, which is huge in automotive, is now possible with the Domino. It is not there with flexo. Flexo is an imperfect process. With the Domino, we have less scrap and waste which allows us to be more profitable.

Please tell me more about that… print quality, scrap and waste on the flexo vs. the Domino.

Paul: On the Domino, once we profile the material and get it all dialed in, it’s almost like a turnkey type process. We have a spun bound polypropylene material that when we printed it flexo we would have to double bump it to get the type of density that we need, but with the Domino we can use a single pass in-line with our die-cutting finishing operation without having to register two plates for a double-bump and then registering some sort of text along with that. So we were running three print stations on the flexo, whereas now with the Domino it just runs digitally and we’re getting a better quality product with just the turn of a switch.

Lynn: And when you run it flexo, there is still a high fallout in scrap.

Paul: Yes, and trying to register those three plates together and on the type of surface we were printing on, it did not lend itself well to the size of the text and the flexographic printing process, so we had probably 5% to 10% scrap on that product just for legibility issues.

How does that compare from a print quality standpoint to the Domino?

Paul: The print quality on the Domino is superior and it is easy to adjust. If I have to change any type of density on the fly, it is simply a couple clicks of the mouse. And permission from our digital front end people.

What are some of the benefits you’re realizing with the Domino from a production standpoint?

Lynn: Clearly there is greater throughput with the Domino. When you’re setting up on flexo, it is 100 feet of material per color and it could take four or five hours to set up a job that you’re going to run for only 15 minutes.

Paul: And with flexo, you have the maintenance of your anilox rolls, maintenance of your plates, the print cylinders…there is just so much that goes into it to get a job ready to run, and then there’s the cleaning process… cleaning the trays, the anilox rolls, the plates, etc. It is entirely a different world altogether. Whereas with the Domino, it is as simple as uploading a file, putting the right material on, and just hitting ‘go’.

Lynn: Here’s another example… 76% of our business is in automotive and clearly we would like to play in other playgrounds…but, with the 3M Honeycomb material, we could not get the quality and the speed on flexo. It took a week to get 150,000 labels produced of a particular job. But now with the Domino, we can produce that same job in one hour.

What does that do for your capacity?

Lynn: It makes us limitless in many instances.

How has the Domino been received by your employees?

Lynn: We had some employees that were a little nervous that the Domino might take their job. The gentleman from Repacorp really helped to dispel that but saying that there will always be some jobs for flexo. So you are clearly not going to move everything over to the Domino, but it certainly opens up our capacity. If somebody needs a job run in a heartbeat, we can now get it to them.

It sounds like you are able to turn jobs around a lot quicker?

Lynn: Absolutely. We are much more nimble…fleet-of-foot now that we have the Domino, than we were with just having flexo. Here’s an example. Let’s say we have a customer come in who wants us to produce a four-color label. We do not produce our own plates, so we have to ask for a quote from the plate maker, and then we would have to wait a week for that. Then we would have to get a quote for a die and wait for that. It’s all about time and money.

We have a Delta ModTech finishing system in-line with the Domino. The Delta has a mag die station and that’s also way less expensive. So being more flexible, zero-defect, huge cost savings. There are a great number of benefits of having the Domino. In label printing, the margins on label jobs can be pretty skinny, so having the Domino allows us to be more profitable, which makes for a more sustainable business.

Paul: Even upfront in the design phase, when the customer may not know exactly what they want, we have Libby at the front end that can do the artwork. When the customer looks at it and says, “Yes that looks good” we can send that job to the Domino and the customer can have something to look at immediately. And if they like it, great, then we proceed. But if they decide they want a change made to the artwork, we have the flexibility to instantly make changes, send them to the Domino, hit go and now the customer has their revised proof immediately. That type of flexibility is a real big advantage. From a flexo standpoint, if we had to order plates, which is a nightmare to go through that process, then we have to re-order new plates due to the artwork changes. Who pays for the plates? Is it customer samples? So there are cost benefits to having digital.

Lynn: Plus, we’ve had instances where a customer approves the plates, but then you get them and there is a misspelled word, or they have ‘milligrams’ instead of ‘grams’. So now you have to wait again and reorder new plates and, like Paul said, who pays for those?

Libby: I do graphic design work, so if our customers need assistance with any of their label designs, I am able to help. I like interacting with the customers, learning their stories. We show them that we care. I just completed designing 50 different labels for a local candle company.

Paul: It’s really a value-add that Libby provides to our customers. She’s technical, but she also has the creative side, so it’s a great combination. She works with the customer during the proofing stage to help them achieve what they really want.

You and your customers are experiencing many advantages with digital printing.

Lynn: Offering digital allows new prospects to come to us more easily, because if they have already invested in plates with their current label provider, they are not as likely to leave them because they would have to purchase plates all over again. But by us offering digitally printed labels, we are more likely to gain new business because our prospects do not have that expense of new plates since we’re producing the job digitally.

Paul: With the Domino and the X-Rite system, we can do perfect color matching for automotive suppliers and branding, as well for the non-automotive customers. When we profile material, we do color matching and then we run the samples and do the comparisons. Colors with the Domino are spot on.

Lynn: Yes, we have perfect color match.

What about from a Sales standpoint with the Domino printed labels?

Lynn: It has been fantastic because salespeople like commissions. In the food & beverage segment, the Domino printed label really sells itself. We have connected with a co-packing plant and they see the Domino labels, there are always customers in there, and they say, “Oh, you produce this label?” We have gotten one customer after another, and because we can help with design capabilities some of these new food & beverage companies are very excited.

Have you already seen an increase in sales revenue by using the Domino?

Lynn: Yes, we certainly have.

Tell me about your level of satisfaction with having the Domino?

Lynn: It has been great, but there is something that we haven’t mentioned yet that is very important…the level of support that we have received from Domino.

Paul: The level of service that Domino provides is just a phone call away. I can call one of three or four people and get excellent service, whether it is technical or mechanical, the Domino service has been phenomenal.

Lynn: I have been very impressed. I have to say that in the beginning I was a little nervous. In the old days, the Encyclopedia salesmen would come to the door, get the sale, and you would never see them again. Domino is the antithesis, or exact opposite, of that. Domino is always visible and provides excellent service after the sale.

What do you foresee moving forward in terms of how Domino digital printing plays a key role in your label printing operation?

Lynn: The Domino digital press is transforming our business. We have hired a new salesperson for the East coast to focus on the health & beauty market. We would not have done that without having the Domino. So we are really looking at the Domino in helping to grow our business.

Paul: We have interest from some of our major automotive customers…senior buyers and buyer managers, who are coming in here to see what we have to offer them, so it makes us more competitive. Having the Domino digital got them here, and it’s giving us more opportunities to quote on new business.


International Label & Printing  

Domino N610i

“The time savings, the quality. It has completely changed our business and capacity. The Domino has simplified our lives quite a bit and has given us a chance to compete, and even win awards.” – Mark Turk, President & CEO

Tell me about International Label & Printing

Mark: The three of us…Bob (Bob Gorzynski – EVP/CFO), Tony and I came out of the newspaper business in Chicago. We worked for the Sun Times, back when it meant something to work for a newspaper. It had been taken over several times by different ownership and we loved the business very much, but we knew that to be promoted we would either have to go across the street to the Tribune or move to Boston or Dallas or New York to further our careers. But we liked Chicago. Bob was the Controller, Tony was the Sales executive, and I worked in Production. The bankers liked the combination and the three of us like to eat, so we decided to start our own business. We found a business in Wood Dale, IL not too far from here. It had flexo, and we were intrigued with flexo because that was an option to print the newspaper back in the day, and we were using direct letter press. So we knew the presses could be utilized to do other things, like print labels, and the plant had the revenue at the time to support the three of us.

The business had been owned since the 1940s by a family of Holocaust survivors who came over here from Europe. The husband had been the Principle and he passed away. His wife ended up running the business and she was at the point where she wanted to retire, so we bought the business from her in 1993. It had been going downhill, so it needed some TLC and some elbow grease. It took us about 18 months to complete the deal.

We didn’t know the label business, so we learned along the way. Then in 2001, we moved here to Elk Grove Village, Illinois with the opportunity to own the building, our own business and make it into a production facility. The previous owners were focused on wholesale food labels, food service labels.

Tony: Yes, lots of can labels, paper labels. We had large format offset back then. So when we bought the building we had nine letter presses. The old platen letter presses, not roll to roll, the old platen letter presses producing cut-and-stack labels. Because it was food service, customers would order 2000 peas, 2000 corn, 2000 green peas and they would print those on the same masters, but on the letter press. We had lead type then, we had a Ludlow until the folks from our worker’s comp insurance company came in and said ‘if you want us to carry you, you will need to get rid of that press’. So we had to go to an alternative plating method.

How long have you been printing pressure sensitive labels?

Mark: Since 1993. When we bought the building, they had a Mark Andy 2100 (which we still have) 6-color press, and a Mark Andy 810 3-color impression cylinder press. They also had the 29-inch offset sheet-fed press that we were describing. So they were doing cut-and-stack labels as well as the pressure sensitive roll-to-roll labels.

We came in and we thought ‘ok this is great, but the press is only 7 inches wide and we kept saying that if we could go a little bit wider, we could open up some new markets for ourselves’. In 1995, we bought an Aquaflex 13-inch 6-color press. And the Sun Times people were good to us. We left on good terms and as it turned out, they came to us. Back in those days they printed Zip cards, basically 8 ½” x 11” inserts, for the newspaper. So they asked if we would like to print those for them. They were four over four and we had a 6-color press. So we bought two extra units to make the Aquaflex an 8-color press and we ran those roll to sheet, off the press and onto the skid ready to go. And that was a nice business for quite some time. For a long time, that was our flagship press.

We then started to get new business that required the jobs to be run on that same press and we didn’t have the capacity, so we bought a Nilpeter FB3300 8-color 13 inch, and made the tooling compatible, so we could run everything interchangeably between the Aquaflex and Nilpeter presses.

So today, you have three flexo presses?

Tony: Yes, that is correct. We have three true flexo presses.

Mark: And we have a Nilpeter Caslon, which is considered a hybrid press combining flexo and digital. We purchased that press in 2010. And we have the Domino N610i, which is our first true digital label press. The Domino was installed at the end of December 2014.

Tell me about the industries that you serve.

Tony: About 75% of our revenue and customers are from the food & beverage market. Of that, about 75% are prime labels.

Tell me about your customers.

Tony: We have a lot of longtime customers that we have had for 20 years.

Mark: Yes, and some that we inherited with the business.

Tony: The largest customer that the previous business had, is still our customer. They are no longer the largest customer, but they are still a great customer.

Tell me about your customers’ expectations and their labeling needs and requirements.

Mark: The three magic words are quality, price, and service. That’s pretty much been it from our beginning.

What drove the need for your company to implement digital?

Tony: The driver was the need to run consistent labels, every time, and minimize the set-up time and the run time. We looked long and hard and finally the technology got to the point where we thought it finally made sense to us. We analyzed running a job digital vs. flexo and until you actually do it, and see it, and experience it, it doesn’t always make sense in your head. You just need to do it.

And now, it’s like ‘this was a no brainer’ because we can deliver the same label, the same colors without having to pull our hair out every time we run the job.

Tell me about that. What pains were you experiencing before?

Mark: Here’s an example. We had a customer, a winery that’s been a good customer for us, and they didn’t like the idea that we were going to run their labels flexo. They had been having them printed digitally, and liked them that way. We were able to earn their business with the understanding that ultimately we were going to print them digital once we could afford it and get it set up. And these labels were tough to do flexo. There were five or six versions. So we had five or six plate changes, times four or five or six colors. It would take a couple days to complete the job running it flexo. In the meantime, we had a press that was tied up and we had other customers that wanted their labels. We managed to do it, but we knew we would have to pull the trigger and go digital.

All of the SKUs and versions that customers are requiring now, really are best run on digital. They might only have 30,000 labels they need but they might have 15 different versions, so it takes a long time to run it flexo. And it’s funny, I was adamant that we could compete against digital when we didn’t have it.

We had one job that was 64 versions of 4 x 6 labels. Only 1,000 to 2,000 of each. So that was 256 plates that we were changing. And we did it, we got it done, but it took us two or three days to complete it. But we got it done, and we were pretty proud of that. But to do that same job digital, we could get it done in two to three hours instead of two to three days. So, it was like ‘what were we thinking?!’

It was out of habit. It was how we ran the jobs, so you become as proficient as you can with it. But when you step back and look at it, you realize ‘there has to be a better way’. So that’s what drove us to go digital. At the time, we still had a couple letter presses back there, so when we bought the digital, it was like we were walking through ‘a time museum’ in our facility. From the old to the new.

Talk about what the efficiencies of running digital have brought to your business.

Tony: We have some customers now that don’t care how large or small the run is, they want their labels printed digitally because of the consistency it gives. There are no gear marks and it gives our customers the same product every time when run digitally. That is not easy to do printing it flexo, because of the human element. In digital, all of the human element comes in the pre-press, basically. So once it is set up, it’s not going to change and the job runs the same every time. Whereas with flexo, each time you run the job there is the human element which can alter the end product. So digital removes the human element to the printing, providing labels with consistent color and quality every time.

Mark: If a customer has six labeled products on the shelf, and one looks different than the others, it is going to stick out like a sore thumb. So it’s very important to maintain consistency because that’s their brand, that’s their image. Customers will let you know if their labels are not consistent.

What feedback have you received on the Domino N610i printed labels in terms of color consistency, color gamut, etc?

Mark: Our customers are pleased with the way the labels look. The testament is the repeat order. The fact that they order again, and again, and again. And they are confident in us.

Tony: We haven’t had any labels rejected due to print quality from the Domino.

Mark: And with flexo printing, customers rejecting labels is a universal occurrence, because with flexo colors can shift or something in the print will look different. Registration can shift. Lots of variables

Talk about the vetting process you went through when considering digital.

Mark: We took several years. And for some reason, we became a target. I don’t know why, we are not a big company, but several digital printing companies would call us and say, ‘we want you to fly to this city or that city and take a look at this machine’. For us it was a chance to learn something, but it was too expensive for us. Then at one of the label shows in 2008 we saw the Nilpeter Caslon but it wasn’t ready yet. So we waited. Two years later in 2010, Nilpeter came back to us and we decided to buy it. It was the first one in North America. And of course, all of the clichés followed such as ‘you lead, you bleed’, etc. but it was a chance for us to get started with digital.

Tony: And the wine market in Illinois was booming. There were over 90 wineries and it was growing immensely. And craft beers were making an appearance. So both of those lend themselves to the digital printing because of how the labels have to look and the quantities that customers are going to order. Smaller quantities, many versions.

So how did that then progress to your company purchasing the Domino N610i?

Mark: The Caslon was a good machine, it still runs, we still run it today. It’s a 4-color flexo/digital hybrid. But so much of what we are doing now is either white ink on metallic poly or paper or clear. And you’ve got to have white ink. And we could print white ink with the Caslon, but we printed it flexo then combined it with the digital. And as an example, with one of our customers there were 12 different labels. Sometimes with those 12 different labels, the art is not the same. You might have 12 white plates. And this may sound funny coming from a guy who changed 256 plates to complain about 12, but it was a case where ‘wow, you could be running the job for 20,000 and each time you have to stop and change because you have 12 plates’. So we had to stop the press, re-register it. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was analog-to-digital. We got it to work. Small quantities, we were fine. 1,000 labels, no big deal. But you get into higher volumes and more SKUs, we were not able to get the same efficiencies we were getting as when we would run it without the white.

It wasn’t in the plan to add another press, but with the issues we were having…the registration issues, the make-ready time, etc. it just happened. I was looking at Domino for another project we were working on for one color. We knew Domino was the expert in ink jetting one color, whether it was on labels or beer bottles. Domino has been doing that for years. In talking with the Domino Account Manager, he showed me this clear label with a very opaque white ink printed on it, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is as good as silk screen’. The white was very dense, very opaque and the print quality was excellent. So then Domino invited us to their facility. This was in November 2014. It was only 40 miles away, so I thought ‘why not’? So a bunch of us drove up to Gurnee, Illinois and we saw the press. And the idea of Domino ink jetting color was natural, because they were already doing great with black. So we thought we’ll go up for the morning, learn something, and then come back.

At the time we saw the press, it was 4-colors plus white. It was everything Domino said it was. And they were introducing a new press that had 6 colors plus white…a 7-color press with extended color gamut. So I got to thinking that maybe it would be good for us to make a deal on the 4-color plus white press. I told Domino that they could even use it for a demonstration if need be since we are only 40 miles away. It was a very impressive machine.

So then the Domino Account Manager, Gary Peterson called us and asked if we were serious. And so that’s how it all started. Domino printed some jobs in Gurnee for us, so that we could see that the press would do what we wanted it to do. Everything looked great.

So then I said to my partners that I thought we should buy the Domino in order to save this type of work that we were starting to get. We couldn’t afford to throw half of it away due to the registration issues we were having. The white is really what drove it.

And the other thing was, we were five years later in technology. We had some experience with UV inkjet with the Caslon, but the Domino was the latest and greatest. The Domino runs twice as fast, and it’s half the cost. So once we started putting all the mathematics together, we said ‘hey, there are some cost benefits here as well in to going with the Domino, besides just being able to print great looking labels’.

It was kind of funny when we first got the Domino, because the Caslon runs 75 feet/minute and the Domino runs over twice as fast as that, and as we were watching jobs being printed we said, ‘we can’t even see the labels’, the press runs so fast. We weren’t used to that type of label production.

What did that do for your capacity, being able to run at that type of speed?

Mark: It was night and day.

Tony: And being able to print at that speed with the white, it was a game changer.

Mark: The time savings, the quality. It completely changed our business and our capacity.

Can you quantify what the Domino N610i has meant to your business?

Mark: Without question, it has saved a lot of our accounts. All of these accounts that require white ink on the labels.

Tony: The Domino has allowed us to be competitive on new business that we have gained…on clears, and on silvers, etc.

Mark: The ink cost is half and the Domino runs twice as fast.

Has the Domino N610i opened the door for new business?

Mark: We have a winery customer that was commissioned by the 786 USS Illinois submarine on the East coast. Michelle Obama was going to break the wine bottle on the ship to christen it. They picked our customer’s winery to do this. So he picked a special wine and he needed a special label for the bottle that Mrs. Obama was going to break open on the ship. He and his wife came here and the Domino was like a proof press. We ran 9-up on a sheet, white ink on a silver BOPP. We would show them the labels, and they would ask for this artwork or that artwork to be changed. What was great, is that we could run it at a moment’s notice on the Domino. There is no way we could have run that, in that manner, on any other press. They would have had to come back tomorrow, wait three hours for a plate, etc. on any other press. We were able to get this done for them in one day. So the bottle that she christened the ship with had a Domino printed label from International Label & Printing…pretty cool! It was on CBS news and all of those news magazines.

What determines which press you run your jobs on?

Tony: It becomes a math equation to a degree. Quantity. Total square inches. Cost. We run an analysis to see what makes the most sense. But as we said earlier, sometimes it’s as simple as a customer’s preference, such as the one who says they want their labels only run digitally, regardless of quantity.

Mark: We give our customers what they want. And we run jobs on the Domino that are tens of thousands of feet. Some jobs we just continue to run flexo because we already have the plates, they’re 4-color jobs, etc. But any new business, 90% of it, we are putting on the Domino.

Tony: Typically anything 60,000 feet or less and/or multiple versions we are putting on the Domino.

What has been the overall level of satisfaction you have had with the Domino N610i?

Tony: We’re very satisfied with the Domino.

Mark: The Domino has made my life a lot easier and it’s made our people’s lives easier. They’re not fighting. You don’t want to have to fight things when you’re trying to produce them. The Domino has simplified our lives quite a bit and has given us a chance to compete and even win awards.

Speaking of awards, tell me about the award you just won from TLMI

Mark: We just joined TLMI this year. We looked at several associations and determined TLMI would be the best fit for us. At first, we didn’t think we would be big enough, but they have made us feel very welcome. It was Gary Peterson and Kent Wolford from Domino who told us about the TLMI Awards Competition and suggested that we should enter some labels. We picked five labels and submitted them. We received a letter from TLMI in July that we won, but they weren’t going to tell us which label or any information until the TLMI Awards dinner in Colorado Springs, CO at the TLMI Annual Meeting in October…we hope you can join us. So we were kicking that around, spending money to go to the Annual Meeting. So we decided to go. And we ended up taking 2nd place in the category of Wine & Spirits – Digital Printing / Inkjet – Color Process Prime with a label printed by the Domino N610i. The Domino has been a great addition to our business.


Smyth Companies  

Domino N610i

“We chose the Domino because of the opacity of the white, the brightness and expanded gamut of all of the colors, the high-definition print quality, the speed of the press, and a lower consumable cost resulting in a lower total cost of ownership.” – Scott Fisher, President of Smyth Companies

Tell me about Smyth Companies

Scott: Smyth was established in 1877. It’s the fourth-generation family that is running the business today. We have 9 manufacturing sites and just over 500 employees. We are in many markets and a major player in Cut-and-Stack, Flexographic (both UV and water-based), Flexible Packaging, Promotional and Commercial business. We cover the gamut in labeling.

Tell me about your roles at Smyth

Glen: I’m the General Manager at the Green Bay facility, which we opened in January 2015. I have been with Smyth since May 2015, and I’ve been in the Graphic Arts industry for 40 years. There is another gentleman, Allen Hallberg, our VP of Continuous Improvement who was greatly involved with the vetting process of Domino before I came on board, so I just want to mention his name as well.

Kristin: I’m the Press Operator at the Green Bay facility and I’ve been here since this facility opened. I’ve been fortunate enough to be running the Domino from the day it was installed. My strength and background is in color management.

Roxanne: I’m in Marketing and Digital Business Development. I’ve been with Smyth for almost 2 years. I have a strong graphic background and have been working in the printing industry for over 20 years.

Scott: I’m the President of the organization and I’ve been with Smyth a total of 11 years. Each of us has our focus within various aspects of the business and I have to say it has been a great team effort. I look at Glen as the manager of the facility who can speak to the role the technology plays in building the business. Kristin from an operator standpoint who can speak to the user friendliness of the Domino press…its ease of use and color management. Roxanne, from the Marketing standpoint to demonstrate and launch the new technology we now have available to our customers. She also works side-by-side with Kristin on the color management. And of course many others like Allen Hallberg, our VP of Operations, who provides support and plays the role of why this technology is important to our business and growth strategy. Allen built a very strong relationship with Domino during the implementation and training.

Tell me about the types of labels or industries that you serve.

Roxanne: We serve the health & beauty, food, beverage, household, industrial, and promotional markets.

Scott: We produce over 4 billion labels annually across a wide variety of substrates and technologies. Based on total sales, about 63% of our business is pressure-sensitive labels.

Tell me about your customers’ expectations and their labeling needs and requirements.

Roxanne: Customers today want to have a lot of material options to choose from. The clear materials are very big today in the markets we serve.

Glen: Speed-to-market, quick turnaround is important to our customers.

Scott: Today’s customers are looking for flexibility and nimbleness and responsiveness. The elimination of having to sit on any kind of inventory. Good color management. They bring projects with multiple SKUs and versions, and the need for printing white. And that’s one of the areas where Domino really excels is in the ability to print a high-opacity white.

Why is White so important to your business?

Roxanne: Based on our customers’ needs and the label jobs we produce, printing in white is critical to our business. We have received a lot of positive feedback on the white from the Domino press.

Glen: From the label manufacturer standpoint, we believe that the Domino white is better than what we are printing using flexography. The white has given us a competitive advantage above everything else. The white from the Domino is better than any of their competitors.

Was the White a main criteria when you vetted a new digital press?

Scott: Yes, absolutely. It was high on the list of criteria.

What were some of the drivers for adding a new digital press?

Scott: There was a completely different market strategy with adding this press. We developed a strategy specifically around the mid-market and we felt that the Domino digital press, coupled with the great opacity white, the operator friendliness, the speed, etc. were very critical to help us achieve our objectives. I think in the end, the overall consumable cost of operation was a huge driver.

Putting the new press in the Green Bay facility was for all-new growth. We really haven’t transitioned any business from another facility to Green Bay. We have some Cut-and-Stack business than transitioned to Pressure Sensitive at Green Bay, but for the most part, the Green Bay facility is really for new business. It was a completely different business model than what we had at any other Smyth facility.

Why was the Domino N610i considered?

Scott: We wanted a differentiator. We wanted technology that was going to be different. When we talked about digital, we also talked about the front end. How can we accelerate? We wanted to make the process easy for our clients.

Glen: We have both technologies, HP and Domino. If you look under the hood of the Domino, it has a very simple web path. It is a very user-friendly model to operate. Our operator had very little press experience and is doing a fantastic job using the Domino in a very short period of time.

Scott: When it came to the choice of technology for the new press we were adding, we looked at the ease of operation, both for our clients and ease of operation internally

How and when did you find out about Domino?

Scott: We found out about Domino from the industry publications, as well as the Domino Account Manager calling on us. Domino approached us as a viable partner because of our digital knowledge. We have been in the digital market for many years and what was truly very important to us was the total consumable cost and cost of operation.

Explain the vetting process that you went through, and why the Domino was chosen.

Scott: We ran initial trials a year in advance of purchasing the Domino. In terms of making a decision to go with Domino, there were two key components. First, it’s like anything else, we ran through a standard ROI model. We looked to make sure that we could generate the right return, from a value creation standpoint. We asked ourselves, ‘can we be competitive in the market?’ But more importantly, when it came time to choosing a new digital press, there was one key factor that took us to Domino…and that was the white.

When we started the process, we sent out a file that had some very complex pictures in it with vignettes and gradations. This is when the original trial was run. We asked that the file be run at this speed and at that speed, and that was really the catalyst for us taking a closer look at Domino. Samples were run at 165 fpm. When we compared those to our Flexo samples we saw little, if any, variation. With the Domino, the color was better than we anticipated with drop-on-demand technology. So immediately, there was some credibility in the Domino technology in how it could replicate the files that were being provided to it. And at the time, I don’t think there were even any curves provided, I think it was just a raw file.

A team of us traveled around and we looked at all of the competing technologies…we looked at five or six manufacturers of digital presses. There were several criteria we had.

We chose the Domino because of the opacity of the white, the brightness and expanded gamut of all of the colors, the high-definition print quality, the speed of the press, and a lower consumable cost resulting in a lower total cost of ownership.

Talk about your visit to Domino and that experience.

Scott: There was a team that went to visit Domino in Gurnee, Illinois. It included our EVP of Sales & Marketing, our EVP of Operations, and Research & Development.

Glen: All of our staff have visited at least one time and Domino has been very accommodating. Kristin and I were talking about this previously. She was blown away with what she saw at the Domino demo facility.

What are some of the key benefits that you are seeing from the Domino N610i?

Glen: The resolution on the Domino is beyond expectation. We are printing 4-point type and it’s crisp and clear. Whatever the Domino engineers have done to get that type of print quality…it’s amazing.

The Domino has just has one speed…FAST! The feet per minute is quick. The color is consistent. Expectation for good print quality is there. But the key differentiator has been our ability to Service our customers. We have received some great feedback from customers on how quickly we have been able to respond. We’ve delivered labels in 24 hours. That was something that we didn’t have the capacity to do previously. So you know if we’re getting that positive feedback, there are other customers experiencing the same thing. We are very excited about the potential of our Service levels with our customers.

Roxanne: The Domino has such an expanded color gamut, I even have had some customers tell us the colors are too vibrant (laughing). Customers have been used to seeing certain colors the same way for years. And now they are seeing colors that they haven’t experienced before. In my opinion, it has really exceeded customer expectations.

Kristin: From not having any digital experience at all, or Press Operator experience, I have been running the Domino and it has been easy-to-use and predictable.

What do you foresee moving forward in how Domino plays a key role in your label printing operation?

Scott: Domino is playing a large role and we are seeing a lot of opportunities. Many customer inquiries, samples, and client visits. For a site in Green Bay which has only been open for one year, we’ve been seeing a lot of customer visits.

Glen: Four major customers have been in here and the feedback has been very positive, and we have turned those visits into work. We have also had internal successes in which we took Cut-and-Stack and converted it to Pressure Sensitive and we’re running that on the Domino. Lots of opportunities with the Domino.


Outlook Group  

Domino K600i

“With the Domino we have achieved increased uptime, increased throughput, reduced downtime, less scrap. We were able to build a business case and justify better than a two-year return on the investment, with pay back in less than two years.” – John Cappy, CEO

Tell me about Outlook Group.

Joel: Outlook Group started 35 years ago with the printing of baseball cards. Using that same Offset printing technology led us to direct mail which is where we first engaged in data management and digital printing supporting the direct mail sector. The company has transitioned quite a bit through the years. Today we are focused on packaging in several key segments. Pressure sensitive labels, flexible packaging, paperboard packaging, as well as marrying those together within contract packaging. We are using the Domino K600i in the label side of our business to print variable bar codes for chain of custody, traceabilitytype applications…specifically in warehouse environments, fulfillment services, etc.

Kevin H.: We also use the Domino K600i for specimen tracking and other healthcare-type applications. Regarding company background, a big part of what we do here is providing our products and services in a highly certified environment from ISO medical device certification to SQF for food safety to FDA, etc. So that is a big part of what we do.

Tell me about the labels and applications that Outlook Group serves.

Joel: In broad terms that we are providing branding and identification solutions for our customers. So we do provide a wide variety of formats of labels…pressure sensitive, cut and stack, roll applied / roll-on labels, shrink sleeves…we have a pretty broad capability. Specifically, the unique bar codes and unique identification applications today are all pressure sensitive labels.

What portion of your business today is labels?

Labels today are just under half of our business. It is a significant portion of our business based on everything that we do.

What industries and sectors do you provide these labels for?

Joel: We service a wide variety of markets. Food & beverage, consumer goods / retail goods, medical device, warehouse management and retail applications.

Tell me about your customers and their labeling needs and requirements.

Kevin H. Our customers require labels for branding…that is the primary purpose of most of what we do here is Prime label. We also do a fair amount of variable data for chain of custody or tracking. Sometimes we combine the variable data capability with a brand. So branding and identification for the markets that we talked about are the primary labeling requirements. We also do use labels for couponing, promotional applications. Label-on label-combinations. Promotional labels to support the branding.

How did you get started with Domino?

Kevin H. I think we did it before electricity, so we are going to turn it over to Jim.

Jim: Our original involvement with digital printing and Domino started with direct mail. We started off with the Bitjet for mail addressing and personalization. We also had a Scitex during that period, and that is what the Domino K600i replaced. We also purchased a Domino L-Series somewhere around that time. Then when we got involved with contract packaging and we purchased three or four A-Series printers from Domino. So we have had several different types of printers from Domino over the years.

The other printing equipment that we had was Videojet. We used Videojet also in our direct mail area. The Scitex was used for an insurance company variable printing application and it became outdated.

Tell me about the Domino K600i?

Joel: We have the Domino K600i integrated onto a Mark Andy flexo label press. Along with the need for printing bar codes and variable data, we use the K600i for digital black plating where there are a high number of SKUs, but low volume. One project in particular where we are kitting inline, so we can print one or two of a given image, then one or two of another image and build a kit inline and repeat that over and over.

When was the K600i installed?

Jim: It’s about two years old.

What was driving the need for putting the K600i onto that flexo press?

Joel: We had secured a couple of new pieces of business that were significant volume and we were finding our previous digital printing equipment to be less and less reliable.

How did you find out about the K600i?

Jim: We visited Domino in Gurnee, IL. The Domino Account Manager Gary Peterson has worked with us for quite a few years. Gary showed me the K600i originally in Gurnee when it first came out. We also then saw it at trade shows and we gained interest as we had more and more issues with the previous digital printing equipment. So we started looking closely at the Domino K600i and we compared other technologies to it.

Tell me about the other technologies you compared it with.

Kevin C: We looked at different classifications of digital printers on the market today. Different types of inkjet, UV inkjet, toner-based systems, etc. We liked the Domino K600i UV inkjet because we thought it was the most versatile option of all the technologies we compared.

Joel: Having flexibility was important to us, and because we participate in a lot of different markets with a lot of different applications, we needed a system that would meet several different types of applications.

How often do you run the K600i?

Jim: For quite a while it had been running 24/7. We run two-12 hour shifts. We run the K600i a little less during the Spring, but it ramps up in the Summer. It’s seasonal.

Have the types of applications changed since you purchased the K600i?

Joel: We are still learning the capabilities of the K600i and understanding what new opportunities there are for us. During the peak season, we didn’t have any additional capacity so we weren’t actively trying to sell new and different types of print jobs. But currently we are engaged in some market research to see what additional business we might be able to go after.

What are some of the key benefits that the K600i have provided your business?

Jason: Compared to what we had previously, the Domino has provided increased throughput and uptime, less make-ready time, and has been much more reliable. We have also seen a reduction in maintenance cost and it is very easy to use. It runs very well.

Joel: I think the biggest benefit is that we are able to deliver the large volumes of unique bar code labels in a timely manner. This Domino unit continues to crank out millions and millions of bar code labels, so for us it’s really about hitting that volume in a predictable and timely fashion. That’s one of the biggest benefits.

The other piece that I should mention is that we had also invested in an inline camera system. So a big aspect of our value proposition as we go to market is that we are scanning all of these labels inline as they are being printed. We are verifying the readability and grade of the bar codes and verifying the unique codes, so there is no duplication. So for chain of custody or inventory management applications, it is key critical. We have it all built-in inline.

So we are able to get those large volumes of bar code labels produced quickly and efficiently and we know that the Domino is going to consistently give us great print quality with scannable and verifiable bar codes.

And it goes beyond that, even before it gets to the press, and that’s where Jason’s role comes into play. Our IT group filters and scans all of the data accurately to avoid duplication before it ever reaches the printhead, so it’s a team effort for success.

Have you been able to quantify the impact of the K600i to your business?

Joel: What we’ve noticed is our business growth. The purchase was predicated on several new large accounts and we’ve seen double-digit growth in our label business with the addition of these new customers. Without the Domino K600i, we would not have been able to handle that business.

How many customers are you producing jobs for using the Domino?

Joel: Approaching ten.

Tell me about the cost justification process when you purchased the K600i.

John: It was based upon all of the benefits that we were going to see with this new piece of equipment. With the Domino we achieved increased uptime, increased throughput, reduced downtime, less scrap. We were able to build a business case and justify better than a two-year return on the investment, with pay back in less than two years.

What has been the overall level of satisfaction with the Domino K600i?

Jim: From all of us, we would say it has been very high.

What do you foresee moving forward in terms of how Domino plays a key role in your operation?

Joel: We are actively looking at the markets for additional variable data opportunities. One color, unique bar code-type applications. Also as we look more broadly across our prime label applications with the branding and identification space, we clearly see the shift in the market to companies adding more and more SKUs and lower volumes per SKU, so we definitely see expanded digital print capability at some point in our future.


The Flesh Company  

Domino K600i

“The challenge today, with business and technology changing so fast, is to determine which investments are right. The Domino offers us so many different avenues that we haven’t been able to go into before…it was a worthwhile investment.” – Jillian Flesh, Executive Vice President

Tell me about The Flesh Company.

Jillian: The Company was started in 1913 by my great grandfather, R.V. Flesh. The business was a distributorship. In 1968 we began manufacturing by opening a forms manufacturing plant in Parsons, KS in partnership with an existing partner named IMI. We specialized in continuous forms and began to branch out, offering more product lines along the way. Today, we produce not only traditional business forms but also integrated cards, labels and integrated labels. We have expanded our product offering quite a bit in the past 50 years.

Roger: One of the main reasons we got into manufacturing was that our founder had quite a challenge at times finding quality manufacturers. That partially drove his decision to get into manufacturing so that he could ensure the quality of products that were getting into the hands of his customers. And then, over a period of time, the manufacturing operation actually grew beyond the distributorship level, surpassing the resale model that was in place.

Our facility is 100,000 square foot building in a city called Parsons which is in south east, Kansas.

Mark: Our sales revenue is $28M.

Dee: And we work with approximately 3,000 distributors.

Tell me about the labels, business forms, and security applications that The Flesh Company produces.

Dee: We create prime labels which we consider to be label products that we send out on rolls or sheets to the distributors and end users. We also manufacture labels that we affix to the business forms that we produce. We are heavy into Chain of Custody forms which require either applied or integrated labels.

Our labels go into many different types of sectors including the medical profession, drug screening, transportation, hospitals. We sell to education, manufacturing, fulfillment businesses, health, manufacturing, non-profit, financial institutions, warehouse distribution, recreation, entertainment. Our product can be used in any sector you can imagine.

Roger: We do everything from ID cards at a high school to an ID card at a museum or non-profit organization. Since we are a trade-only shop, we work through a network of resellers. Those resellers have a large scope of markets that they sell to, so for any company that uses a custom printed piece of paper, they are a potential end-user client for one of our resellers.

Tell me about how the labeling needs and requirements of the end-user have changed over the past few years.

Mark: We have only been into labeling for five or six years, but when speaking of trends, we see a lot of long run produced labels going to more short-run custom, short run-digital produced labels which we don’t do. Right now we are doing a lot of prime labels, but we also see ourselves getting into more custom labeling and variable imaging. That has sent us down the path toward buying the Domino equipment.

Tell me about how the need for variable data printing has evolved over the past few years.

Phillip: The amount of inkjet work that we are doing has increased greatly over the past five years. We have been looking at inkjet systems for quite a while. The greatest increase in growth is the need to have more capacity, but also the dissatisfaction we have had with our previous inkjet system. The Domino has come along at the right time for us to be able to do several things that we could not do before.

Tell me about your previous inkjet system.

Phillip: We have two other inkjet systems that we use. One that we use on forms, and one that we use on labels. Both have their issues when it comes to reliability, downtime, lack of dpi print quality, and Service.

Roger: Our healthcare market was a major driver in much of our early bar code work, before we were ever involved in pressure sensitive labels. We do a wide variety of healthcare applications using bar codes for cross-referencing with lab reports, for example. Our integrated labels got us further into that market using form and label combinations with various bar code symbologies. With the flexo equipment, it got us into a different line of variable imaged label. A lot of that was in the warehouse distribution market. Those were a couple primary drivers there. We saw this growth opportunity, specifically for bar codes and variable imaging, so it was a way for us to continue to enhance and add value to an old traditional form, bringing more variability and opportunities to that part of the market.

Of course, as you get into that, the forms get more complicated. The scanning devices that are reading these codes get more complicated and they require better quality, higher density and higher definition. So as we are seeing these industries move forward, especially in warehouse distribution, the scanning speeds that are used require better quality imaging and bar codes. We had to find a way to move up the ladder.

Tell me about the need or reason why the Domino K600i was purchased.

Phillip: We had a DPI system previously for variable printing on the labels. There are three primary reasons why we purchased the Domino.

1. We needed more production.

2. We needed better quality.

3. The amount of downtime and Service issues that we had with the other inkjet system was unacceptable.

Randy: The voice of the customer has been enquiring about smaller barcode symbologies in the 600 DPI range for 2D barcodes and variable print. We required a larger print head that would cover the labels in running 4-across for better cycle time with our current workload. Our prior system was inadequate and had limitations. In our research Domino had provided the best solution with 1200 DPI and Kyocera technology with the print heads. Domino had provided a cost savings in our consumables with ink drops moving to smaller Pico Liters, and Domino now has a solution for aqueous variable imaging at higher press speeds.

How and when did you find out about Domino?

Phillip: We have been doing research for at least three or four years knowing that we needed more capability. We researched numerous inkjet systems and we found Domino.

Through our research we were looking at the quality of the systems, dots-per-inch resolution, the speed that we could run at, what types of substrates we could print on, and of course price. All of that had to be taken into consideration.

During this investigation process, was a visit made to Domino in Gurnee, IL?

Phillip: Yes, both Bob and Roy went to visit Domino and see the K600i. Their visit went very well.

Roger: We have always made a habit of sending our people to the trade shows…Label Expo, Graph Expo and Pack Expo. We usually break our group up into teams and split it up between each of the trade shows, so everyone comes back with their views on what they saw. The information is shared.

Phillip: Yes, an example of that is Jason Rankins, our label estimator and I visited the Domino booth at Label Expo 2014.

Tell me about the applications that you are using the Domino K600i for.

Phillip: currently we are using it for bar codes and variable data on labels.

Randy: Specifically, label affixed bar-coded forms, a variety of bar-coded medical labels, Shipping labels, Prime labels, and Chain of Custody type products.

Have you seen an increase in the print jobs or a difference in the types of print jobs that you run through the Domino K600i?

Dee: Right now, we are using the Domino on existing jobs that we were running on the DPI inkjet system and we are seeing cost savings on those jobs being run on the Domino.

Randy: We have the opportunity for a significant increase in our label division for some particular distributors, so we have brought orders in-house that we previously had to subcontract.

Phillip: There are two jobs that we had to outsource previously due to quality or size of the bar code, and now we are able to run them in-house on the Domino.

Roger: An important point to note is that the previous inkjet system that we had was on a 10” flexo press. The Domino is on a 16” flexo press, so we are able to gain efficiency because we have a wider imaging width by using the Domino as well.

What are the key benefits that the Domino K600i has provided to production (in terms of throughput, increased uptime, less make-ready time, less maintenance, etc.)?

Randy:

  • Reduction in ink usage
  • Reduction in make ready
  • Improved quality and grading of bar-codes.
  • Reliability and uptime have improved.

Phillip: Uptime is definitely better on the Domino than what we had on the DPI. As Roger mentioned, we are also capable of running our jobs more across because we have a wider print bar and wider web to work with using the Domino integrated on our 16” press. And as Randy mentioned, we have noticed that we have significantly less ink usage with the Domino than with the DPI system. In fact, we are using about 50% less ink with the Domino that we were with the DPI inkjet system. We are using one of the higher Pico Liter settings and we are still seeing that type of ink usage.

Also, another nice feature with the Domino, especially for quoting purposes, is that we can program in a job to get an idea how much ink usage we are going to have on a job before we ever run it.

With your previous inkjet system, did you have automated stitching of printheads, and / or automated cleaning and capping of the printhead?

Phillip: No with the DPI system, we did not have that.

What benefits have your customers seen from the Domino K600i?

Dee: For our customers, it has meant a quicker delivery of their order as our throughput has increased

Randy: I would say quality and grading for bar-codes, cycle time, and opportunities to enter other markets in variable imaging.

Phillip: With our previous inkjet system, downtime was a significant factor. For example, a month before we bought the Domino, the DPI inkjet system was down for a two-week period. That was pretty much the last straw that made us decide it was time to buy the Domino. On a daily basis, you could count on being down with the DPI system for a certain amount of time. Some days it was several hours just to get it up and running.

What about the speed of the Domino K600i?

Phillip: I think both systems will handle the speed that our label press runs, but with the Domino it is a wider print bar going across a 16” press, so we can print more across on a wider web, which increases our throughput and efficiencies.

Tell me about the cost justification process for the purchase of the Domino K600i.

Phillip: When we bought it, we knew our downtime would significantly be decreased. However, the biggest surprise has been on the consumables. We had no idea how much we would save on ink usage by going to the Domino. For example, on one of our larger orders we saved $1,000 just on consumables.

Roger: One of the things that was a consideration, was the cost of doing nothing. The other unit had considerable downtime, and when it went down, we were stuck. And of course that affects customers and keeping them happy, it affects convincing them to send us another label opportunity. So a factor was the risk of staying status quo as opposed to moving up the ladder.

We know that there are opportunities that exist that we were not able to quote on, but now we have the opportunity to go back to those people and let them know that we have the Domino K600i, we are a player, and we’ll go an excellent job for them.

Do you anticipate that the Domino will allow you to enter new markets or gain new business that you did not have previously?

Dee: Yes, we expect that with the 1200 dpi of the Domino, it will enable us to market jobs that we haven’t been able to do in the past. There are customers that require a higher dpi than we were able to produce previously, so that gives us room for growth. We have been talking about bar codes, but the other side of it is the variable imaging. That is something that we just could not look to sell previously, which now we can.

Sabrina: I have been pushing for an inkjet system that would provide the quality our distributors require. My background has been one to push the value-add products that require more detail and higher quality control. Many customers have been asking for a higher resolution. I believe this will enable us to capture more business because of the higher improved print quality. We have customers that would hesitantly send us orders due to the fact the previous quality was not up to their standards. Now, with the enhanced quality and matching it with the service we provide, it’s going to be hard to beat. Flesh Co definitely has edged out its competitors by investing in the Domino K600i with the 1200 dpi capability.

Over the past 10 years I have seen the bar coding grow so much on the forms and labels we produce. I am thrilled this is the direction we’re heading.

How often is the Domino K600i being used?

Phillip: We run (2) forty-hour shifts and usually we work on the weekends. We are running the Domino 60 – 75% of that time.

What do you foresee moving forward in terms of how Domino plays a key role in your operation?

Randy: We understand how it will play into our Flexo department in a UV environment and hopefully the new aqueous solution will help us with our conventional printing presses.

Roger: The Domino K600i will allow us to go after new opportunities that we had to walk away from in the past. As Dee mentioned earlier, our idea of variable imaging had pretty much been bar coding because that was the only capability that we had. The Domino will give us the ability to do other types of imaging at higher resolution such as integrated labels, address labels that go to direct mail houses, etc. There may be opportunity for us to move into other types of variable imaging as well such as sequential numbers on ID cards, addressing on non-profit letters. So we look to expand this to other parts of the variable image market that quite honestly we could not previously touch.

Dee: A pattern that The Flesh Company has shown is continuing to invest in technology to move the business to the next level. This positions us as a company to move forward, out of our comfort zone, to gain new business. It’s not waiting for business form jobs to walk into our front door. We’re investing in the future and we’re taking that next step.

Jillian: To add to what Dee just said, one of the founding principles that my great grandfather adopted when he started the company was to stay on the cutting-edge of technology. And that was 102 years ago. He, my grandfather, and my father have done a great job of investing in the company and realizing that to stay stagnant is a company’s death. The challenge today, with business and technology changing so fast, is to determine which investments are right. The Domino offers us so many different avenues that we haven’t been able to go into before…it was a worthwhile investment.


Computype  

Domino K610i

“When you put the two together, the throughput of the Domino N610i combined with the throughput of the process improvements and savings, you start to then create revenue capacity that is significantly greater with the same number of shifts, employees, work hours, etc” – Charlie Westling, CEO

Tell me about Computype.

Charlie: We have forty years of history in helping companies with the way they identify and capture data to run their businesses more efficiently, to grow their businesses more effectively, and use the information in their businesses to succeed. So it’s really about the world of automated identification, data capture, using information to provide all of those benefits to our customers.

We do it in a global context. We have manufacturing facilities, sales, operations and customer service in multiple locations across the globe. We have a global customer base that we serve through those various locations. And we are able to understand our customers’ business, understand how automatic identification labeling and data capture impact their business, and bring to them a solutions approach to improve their business. Whether it’s labels, automated equipment, pre-printed labels, print-on-demand labels, blank labels, the services involved, we provide that service and information allowing our customers to be more successful.

Todd: We got our start by helping companies track products and we helped pioneer tracking blood bags in the late 70s. And we’ve grown in that capacity to whereas today we bar code pretty much everything in North America.

We then went into the automotive electronics industry in the mid to late 80s, helping build our business even further. Now we focus on diagnostic laboratories, life sciences, transfusion medicine and rubber products. Those are our biggest areas.

Tell me more about those markets / industries / sectors that you serve.

Charlie: Let’s start with the tire and rubber industry. Tire and belt manufacturers, companies that build products with rubber. We help those companies automate the way they identify and track products through their production process and life cycle. Again to be able to provide information to our customers that allow them to optimize the way they make those products and the way those products are used.

We provide labels for about 30% of the world’s global tires population. So for every 10 tires manufactured, three of those have a label or multiple labels from Computype. It’s a big part of what we do.

The second big segment for us is healthcare, with three components to that:

1. Transfusion Medicine business – blood centers and helping them use our labels as part of their blood donation collection process. Blood is processed into multiple uses and then delivered to the hospitals for patient use. Identifying and tracking those products. We drive about 90% of that market with our labeling and identification capabilities.

2. Diagnostic Laboratories – our labels and labeling equipment are used by diagnostic labs to help them manage their tests and samples from millions of patients. It’s significant. The technology allows the testing results to be delivered the end user patient.

3. Life Sciences – labs that are in the front end of drug discovery and development. And have multiple samples and compounds of chemistry and materials that need to be identified and tracked.

The third category is the industrial world which includes automotive suppliers, logistics, libraries and chemical manufacturers. In the case of chemical manufacturers, our identification and tracking solutions help them comply with GHS labeling requirements. We also do work with the textile garment manufacturers where different fabrics produced in various lots are identified and tracked through their production process.

It seems that a common denominator in the sectors that Computype provides labels for, in many cases, is based on track and trace for human safety.

Charlie: One of the things that we all get energized and excited about is that the applications that we identify, label, track and provide information for are used in critical environments. They are literally life changing and life-saving environments. The importance of our label and information on that label plays a key role. The ability to move blood from one person to another, to save a life. Or to properly identify a patient’s lab testing results to help ensure an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

The other dimension to that is in the tire and rubber world. The environments that our labels go into… the temperature extremes, or back to the life sciences market with all of the chemicals and reagents that are used to test various samples in diagnostic labs…we have the ability to design and engineer labels based on our knowledge of materials and materials chemistry, imaging and converting technologies and the kinds of things that we are doing with Domino.

It all ties together to give us sources of knowledge to provide a solution that withstands these temperature extremes, harsh environments, and is literally life-saving in its applications. For us, it creates a tremendous focus on quality. And the ability to produce billions of labels a year without having redundancies of information, and knowing that if we have any failures, it has large implications for our customers, so it creates a heightened sense of importance and focus on quality. That funnels into our strong need for quality.

It really emphasizes that the quality of not only the labels, but the quality of the equipment producing those labels, has to be top notch.

Charlie: You got it. It’s all tied together. And because of that, we hold ourselves and our suppliers to a higher standard.

What about the label materials and substrates?

Tom: The labels are engineered labels for harsh environments. Multiple layers, complex construction. But it has to survive environments that normal labels otherwise would not. In the tire example, it’s extreme heat. In a laboratory, it’s harsh chemicals running across the labels.

How many different types of materials and substrates do you plan to run through the Domino N610i?

Todd: Presently, we have over 600. We have over 600 catalog numbers, and with the Domino we may be able to pair it down, but we need to run films. We don’t run papers. Less than 1% of our sales are paper labels, everything else are films. If it has poly in it, it is probably used by us. Our catalog numbers describe the “sandwich” of materials used, SKUs, the make-up. We are a custom, made-to-order printing and converting company, so we try to marry up (unlike smaller label printers where they have to go to Flexcon or 3M or Avery Dennison to buy the sandwich to print on) we can mix and match materials. We even have adhesive coating capabilities. For instance in the tire industry, we have our own formulation where we coat and use. We buy a film outside and marry everything together in order to get the end product.

So Computype is actually creating the various label material combinations.

Charlie: We have several different versions of film, which serve as the base layer label stock. We have a wide variety of adhesives, coatings, etc. Each of these layers in a sandwich have multiple materials that we pick and choose from, and so when you think about a sandwich that might have four or five layers to it, each layer having a multitude of choices, you start to do the math and you see it’s easy to get to very large numbers of various materials that we can construct for meeting labeling performance requirements.

And one of the things that makes us unique is that because we can create these combinations, we do not need to rely on the typical material suppliers to give us the sandwich. We are able to backward integrate into that label construction process and it allows us to be more innovative, to bring a higher and greater value proposition to our customers. In that type of business model we put a heavy onus on our key partners and suppliers because they have to be able to give us the flexibility to innovate, using our depth of technical knowledge across all elements of that sandwich.

It underscores that the label press printing on those hundreds of material combinations has to also then be flexible to accommodate the need.

Charlie: It’s interesting how we have had a history of using equipment, whether its imaging, printing, converting, die cutting, or coating…or even some of the materials…the films, etc… where we have many instances where we are using equipment or materials in a way that is not standard, from how others would use that same equipment. And having the ability to work with suppliers who understand our business and how we can use inkjet technology for imaging in ways that are different than how others would apply the technology, is a key part of our value proposition. It is a key part of our DNA.

That is one of the elements that went into the thought process of why Domino? Can we work with a company, and embrace an emerging technology like inkjet, in ways that are more flexible and adaptable to our ability to innovate with the technology? To bring a product that is different and better to the market.

Tell me about the need for a digital label press.

Todd: I have been in charge of operations for about 8 years now, and an issue that we have had with on our other printing technology, is the durability of the ink. I have been on a mission for many years trying to find a better, more durable ink. We have a lot of exposure with UV cured inks on our flexo press, so it became obvious that the path leading us to some form of UV cured inkjet, would satisfy what we were looking for.

We were also looking for a less complex technology to maintain, service and keep running. The utilization of the presses we have right now, we have maxed out. We will not get a lot more direct hours out of those, whereas with the inkjet there are not as many moving parts, it’s a lot more simplistic. Inkjet is a lot easier to manage and oversee. Keeping the uptime on it is a lot easier.

We have looked at various printing technologies with this one being the seventh or eighth we have used over the years…from photographic to thermal transfer to laser to digital offset to aqueous inkjet and now UV cured inkjet.

Especially since we are going to a lean manufacturing model, it became very important that we could do quick changeovers. And it appears with the less complex nature of UV cured inkjet in changing from film to film to film, it is a lot easier than our other technology.

The other technology we have is 12 to 15 years old in terms of being used in the market. Whereas the UV cured inkjet is in the first few years of its life, in terms of serious life for digital narrow web printing.

Why was Domino chosen?

Todd: We looked at all of the major digital UV inkjet suppliers and didn’t know a lot about Domino. Our Managing Director of Europe, John Newton, guided us to Domino. It was funny. John told us about Domino, and almost simultaneously we received a phone call from the local Domino Account Manager, Gary Peterson. Our VP of R&D, Peter Baker and I met with Gary and got a very good impression from the beginning that Domino understood better than others we talked with, about what we needed. We pursued others, but ultimately we chose Domino because we felt that with Domino being a global organization, from world headquarters in Cambridge, UK near where we have a plant in Hull, England, as well as having a big presence here in the United States with U.S. headquarters in Gurnee, IL …it was a good fit. Plus, Domino has over 35 years of inkjet technology experience…it made a lot of sense that we were picking the right partner.

Charlie: From my perspective, what I picked up on from our team were words like “Domino is not the largest, but we think they’re the best. Domino is flexible and understands what we need. Domino is big enough that they have the resources globally to accommodate and support us, but not so big that we felt like we would be just another number and insignificant potential customer for them. Big enough to give us what we need, but not so big that we would get lost in the shuffle.” That was very important to us.

Also, having executive-level involvement and ownership of our success with Domino’s technology from Robert Pulford all the way through the organization at Domino…that was very important to us. This is a very important and strategic investment by Computype because we play in markets that are customer and mission critical. It’s a significant decision we have made and part of the comfort in making it was that the organization would be there for the long haul, in the support we receive after the sale.

Let’s talk about the workload you plan to put on the Domino N610i.

Todd: If we shifted all of our current work to the Domino we would be busy two full shifts a day, all year long.

Tom: And that is without creating any new products…that is just transitioning our current load. Our intention is to create new products using the Domino. Our engineers are extremely excited about the flexibility and the opportunities of UV cured inkjet.

What about the speed of the Domino N610i. How will that affect your operation?

Todd: Presently we have 5 operators across 2 shifts on our other digital offset technology. If the numbers are accurate that I am calculating with what our net throughput speeds are going to be, we will be able to produce those jobs using 2 operators, so we will see labor efficiencies.

We are two years into our lean manufacturing process “Operational Excellence” and the speed is definitely a help, because now we can set up a one-piece flow production line model and the printer will not be the slowest part of the process. With the Domino, because of the durable UV inks, we can eliminate the need for using laminates and top coats with our customers’ product in order to make them simpler and quicker to produce. So we have less steps to go through and we can get labels produced and shipped to the end customer a lot quicker than we can with the other digital technology we have.

Charlie: It’s really throughput and efficiency in a couple of dimensions. One, it’s the throughput of the Domino digital press compared to our other digital offset technology. But then also, due to the durability and quality of Domino’s UV ink, we gain throughput on process step improvements as well. When you put the two together, the throughput of the Domino N610i combined with the throughput of the process improvements and savings, you start to then create revenue capacity that is significantly greater with the same number of shifts, employees, work hours, etc.

And as Tom talked about, one of the drivers for the decision to go with Domino was to be able to deploy the technology that will allow us to bring further differentiated products to the market in those key segments that we do business in…things that we think are even more industry-leading in terms of their performance characteristics and the benefits they bring to our customers.

It’s an interesting proposition. Instead of looking at a printing press simply as a cost savings or efficiency driving mechanism for ROI justification, it is all of that but also a revenue enabling investment that starts to drive the top line as well.

It’s a paradigm shift for us. I tell Todd jokingly that he will have a sales quota. He and his team are using technology to open revenue doors for us. It is really bringing the entire company together and this technology is seen as a revenue generator.

Tell me about the cost justification process for the purchase of the Domino N610i.

Todd: This was the first capital investment that was completely justified on new revenue…not just on cost savings. We have that as well, but we were able to cost justify it simply based on the new products we will be able to deliver to our customers based on this new technology. It was much easier to justify this press because of the new revenue opportunities.

What about the quality of the Domino N610i and the quality of the print?

Tom: From a technology standpoint, feedback from our engineers and operators are impressed and excited. From a service standpoint, they are also impressed with the implementation and training. And we have some pretty picky engineers, so that is saying a lot.

Tell me about Computype’s visit to Domino.

Todd: We sent our process engineer for imaging, Doug Henry, to Domino in Gurnee, IL. He has been with us his entire working career, and been through many different technology changes over the years. He was very impressed with what he saw at Domino. He brought up a list of caveats that we have to overcome, and we are still working on those, but he was able to get a really good sense on the N610i. We sent materials to Domino and with the quality we saw, we knew the Domino N610i was the technology for us.

It sounds like there is a comfort level in working with Domino.

Todd: Domino Account Manager Chuck Stone and our company have a long history together. Chuck getting Domino’s VP of Sales David Ellen, as well as Domino’s technical resources involved, was also great. It was a team approach.

What do you foresee moving forward in terms of how Domino plays a key role in your label operation?

Charlie: We have made a significant investment in both the technology and a key partner to help lead us. We knew going in that we were going to use the technology in ways that weren’t necessarily mainstream, and that is part of our DNA, and that’s part of our differentiator that we bring to our customers. We know we are with the right partner, one that is going to work with us and one that is committed. We are excited that we are using technology that is innovative and that goes hand-in-hand with how we plan to use it. It’s a story of innovation. It’s a story of taking technology and using it in better and different unique ways, and partnering with the right players to do that.


McCourt Label  

Domino N610i

“Scrap and labor savings, since moving this job to the Domino, is huge. With the Domino we can run in ONE HOUR what we used to run in an entire shift on flexo.” – Dave Ferguson, President

Tell me about McCourt Label.

Sharon: McCourt is a custom label printer and converter. The company was founded in 1896 by a group of investors led by Newton McCourt. He invented a label dispensing cabinet for drug stores. His design was patented and the company was formally incorporated in 1901 as McCourt Label Cabinet Company. They started manufacturing the cabinets in Bradford, PA in the back of a drug store. The company also supplied the labels for the cabinet. The company was reformed in 1911 by Herb Black and the product gained national acceptance. The company is still owned by the decedents of Mr. Black, who was the president for 47 years.

The company has re-invented itself many times in its history as pharmacies migrated to newer technologies. The company soon began printing labels for many other uses including general industry and office applications.

McCourt was one of the early adopters of the flexographic process for label printers, purchasing its first flexo press in 1967.

During the ‘80s and 90’s McCourt became heavily involved in the production of labels for printing variable information via computers including pin feed, fan fold for dot matrix printers. This evolved into thermal transfer and laser labels for bar coding and tracking purposes. This is still a very large part of McCourt’s product line up.

In 2007, the company decided that it needed to dramatically improve its printing capability and made investments in UV flexographic printing presses, digital plates, screen printing and cold foil capabilities. The higher quality printing enabled the company to expand into prime, promotional and durable labels that require high quality printing.

As digital printing for label applications has evolved, it became obvious to McCourt’s management that it would have to transition to the new technology. McCourt’s management decided that another reinvention of the company was needed to keep it viable well into its second century.

Dave: The investment in the Domino N610i digital UV inkjet label press is the first step in the transition to digital printing technology. We do a lot of medium to long run jobs, that’s really our niche. We are mainly known for custom jobs and taking on the more difficult applications. We define a medium run as 25K- 100K feet. Anything over 100K feet we term as a long run. The Domino will allow us to compete in the shorter run, high quality, and variable imprinting markets.

Sharon: The Domino helps us even more in that effort of the prime, promotional and product labels.

How many presses does McCourt Label have?

Dave: We have 9 flexographic presses and 1 digital press. The Domino is our first digital press.

Tell me about the markets / industries / sectors that you serve.

Sharon: We service a diverse group of markets. Prime labels, direct mail agencies, non-profit groups, packagers, manufacturers, distribution centers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and automotive applications.

Historically people have thought of McCourt as medium to long run, so we are also trying to change that perception to let customers and prospects know that we can produce any label quantity…from shorter run to long run…from 1,000 feet to 1 million feet. We have the label printing equipment to accommodate that.

What is the crossover point in which you would run digital vs. flexo?

Sharon: What we have been doing is quoting it out both ways. We recently ran 100K foot job through the Domino N610i. It worked out that it was more economical to do that vs. running the job flexo.

We have estimating software that we use to determine if it is better for us to run it flexo or digital.

On jobs where there are multiple lots, that tends to push us more towards the Domino, because of the expense of all of the flexo plates…the mounting of the plates, plate changes, etc.…that all plays a factor in determining on which press we run the jobs.

What trends are you seeing in label printing?

Dave: One trend is that customers are definitely looking for higher quality printing. Quality they expect from us is definitely higher than ever before…print register, spot colors. They want high quality labels.

Sharon: We are also seeing more lots and SKUs from customers. We have a new customer who has 228 SKUs of their product and that’s an example of a job where we would not have stood a chance of being competitive printing it flexo, but now with the Domino, it got us in the door.

Dave: If we had produced that using four-color process, that would have been at least 800 flexo plates.

Sharon: And not to mention countless hours of plate mounting. Plus, all of the scrap…just the scrap to set up each of those lots. We are able to run this on the Domino with multiple copies across, as we ganged versions. I think we are running at least six copies across. It definitely gives us the flexibility we need. And I can tell you that I did run the numbers to quote it both ways, flexo vs. digital, and it was a joke…it was significantly less expensive to run it on the Domino. It is a Domino job through and through.

What market sector is that for?

Dave: They make the flavoring for the electronic cigarettes.

Tell me about the quality of the printing from the Domino.

Dave: We are very pleased with the quality of the Domino. We already have customers who have thanked us for converting their job to this new digital label press as they see a definite quality improvement. A lot of our customers require printing on clear labels and the white from the Domino is very high opacity.

Sharon: It is very impressive. It looks better than flexo. It’s more opaque. And when we are printing on top of the white, it seems to make the other colors stand out even more.

Dave: If we wanted to have the same opacity white on our flexo press, we would need to add screen printing which is very costly.

How has having the Domino changed the way you do business?

Dave: Approximately 75% of the new business that we have will be put on the Domino and 25% run flexo. We are going after new business that we were not competitive in before getting the Domino.

Sharon: For example, one of the things that we are very excited about is the ability to add variable printing to the labels. We have customers that we do consecutive numbering and bar coding for, but it was all being done offline, either on a Printronix laser printer or a thermal transfer printer, so we had to print on a flexo press then take it to our imprint room to be imprinted. But now with the Domino, we can print variable data inline. And we are very excited by that because it opens opportunities for us.

Before, if someone wanted a varnish over top of the bar code or numbering, we were imprinting offline, so it was not feasible for us to do that. But now we can varnish over top of the consecutive numbering, we can over laminate on a separate press afterwards and that was something that we didn’t have the capability before the Domino.

Dave: It has streamlined the process and we can run a lot faster.

What speed are you running the Domino?

Dave: We have run successful trials at 73 meters per minute (239 fpm) with very good print quality and variable information as well.

Sharon: The nice thing too is that we can run these variable labels much wider on the Domino than on a thermal transfer printer so our throughput and productivity has increased.

What type of productivity increases do you expect with the Domino?

Dave: Any jobs that require versioning or variable data are and will be run through the Domino, and will be a huge gain in productivity.

Tell me about a print job moved from flexo to the Domino.

Sharon: One of the programs that we were looking at before we bought the Domino was for a durable outdoor application on a clear film. We have approximately 1600 different customers for that product. Very similar. We are running only two different size labels, a few different types of material…clear, white, static cling, low tact. However, that whole product line was moved to the Domino because of how many versions we do. And as far as improving productivity it will be dramatic. Just the amount of flexo plates that we are not making for that program, and we are able to run wider.

Plus, the print quality that we are giving our customers has increased tremendously. This is short run work that we were running on narrow 6 ½” presses. Now we are able to offer our customers full four-color process printing. And the white is very opaque on the clear labels. Since our investment in the Domino N610i, we are already getting a lot feedback from customers who are thanking us for how nice their labels look.

And cost savings. The amount of scrap that you have on a flexo press to set up a 300 or 400 foot job…it costs a lot to get that flexo press up and running and that material is not cheap. So just the savings that we see in terms of scrap with this program is really beneficial.

Dave: Scrap and labor savings since moving this job to the Domino is huge. With the Domino we can run in ONE HOUR what we used to run in an entire shift on flexo.

Sharon: For an 8-hour shift we might have run 10 or 15 different versions, so we could only do one at a time. We were mounting that customer’s plates, running their job, tearing that job down…then mounting plates again, changing colors, running that job. Now we can run all 10 of those jobs simultaneously through the Domino. It has given us more capacity.

What does having the Domino N610i do for your capacity?

Dave: It’s pretty wide open because we have capabilities now that we didn’t have before. We actually decommissioned one of our flexo presses because all of the work came off of it and moved to the Domino.

Tell me about the process you undertook for looking at digital presses?

Dave: We started looking about five years ago and for us it was difficult because we are a medium to long run house and making the economics work was really important. We knew it would be a huge investment in equipment, so it was very important for us to know that we could move a significant amount of our current work to the digital label press. And because of the Domino capabilities printing on film and the white capabilities, we knew we could move a significant amount of work to that machine.

How did you find out about Domino?

Dave: I was aware of Domino from seeing the company at Label Expo, and we were aware of Domino’s capabilities from the one-color variable printing unit (Domino K600i digital UV inkjet printer).

Sharon: Last summer, we were looking at Domino’s one-color head (K600i) and considering adding that to one of our flexo presses. Those discussions ultimately evolved into us looking at the Domino N610i.

Why did you choose Domino?

Dave: The reason we selected the Domino N610i was because of the requirements that we had for very high quality printing on clear film and other substrates. The trials on the Domino were superior to what their competitors could show us. Secondly, the print speed was superior, especially for the variable imprinting.

Sharon: And from a sales perspective, or an estimating perspective, what I liked was the flexibility. There was no blanket size that we had to fill. There was a wide variety of materials that we could run through the Domino. We do a lot of work in manufacturing so we liked the idea of the UV and that the print quality is highly durable.

Talk about going with a digital label press that is UV inkjet.

Dave: We have a lot of experience printing UV because we have a UV flexo press, so we had a comfort level with UV and the advantages as far as the durability. We do a lot of outdoor-type label printing applications, so the UV inkjet was definitely an advantage in our eyes…the lightfastness and the durability of the ink.

Sharon: We are so diverse and very custom in the types of labels that we produce with so many different markets that we sell into. We didn’t want to be streamlined into a digital press that just focused on prime labels, because we have so many different types of labels we produce. The Domino offered us the flexibility to print a wide variety…prime labels because the quality is there, but we could also do industrial labels, durable labels, variable information, barcoding, drum labels. The Domino just offers a lot of capabilities and opportunities for us.

What benefits have you seen from using the Domino N610i?

Dave: Number one is that we will be able to capture jobs that we could not do before economically and at higher quality. We are going to be able to drive sales to McCourt Label…that is our number one benefit.

Number two, the productivity gains on our existing jobs and gains in print quality…turnaround time and high-quality are very important to us and our customers.

Sharon: The flexibility of the machine and the fact that there are a lot of diverse markets that we can target is very helpful from a sales perspective. There is a lot of excitement about the Domino and it opens up a lot of doors for us. Whether it is a small run, multiple lots, a long run, variable imprint…we now have the tools.

Dave. We have only been running it for a month and we have already seen an increase in sales because of the Domino N610i.


Discount Labels  

Domino K600i

“For variable data printing, Discount Labels trusts Domino.” – Mike Gore, General Manager

Tell me about Discount Labels. Company background, history, products/services, etc.

Lisa: “Discount labels has been in business almost 50 years. We are the country’s largest custom label supplier. We only sell through distributors, so only to the trade. A bulk of that work is all labels…between various shapes and sizes and colors and stocks, the combinations are pretty much limitless.

Mike: “We produce flexographic, digital, various stocks from EDP, wide litho, Bopps, foils, films…everything under the sun.”

Lisa: “We print one-sided, we print two-sided, tag stocks, scratch-off, scratch and sniff.

Mike: “Everything you can imagine…we try to be a one-stop shop.

Tell me about your roles at Discount Labels.

Lisa: I have been with the organization for a year and I am on the sales and marketing team…a relatively new addition but my key responsibility is helping to grow sales.

Mike: I was hired 22 years ago; currently I am the General Manager. We have approximately 500 employees in about 200,000 square feet in New Albany, IN.

Lisa: We were founded in 1965 by Fred Conway who had an idea to create a label for fire, police and emergency services and that was really the birth of the company. It became national pretty quickly and then he began selling other kinds of labels. The Conways owned the business until 1994.

Mike: Mr. Conway also created the emergency sticker that everyone had on their telephones. He started printing those in his basement, then opened a little shop here in New Albany, and then built this building we are in today.

Tell me about your customers (distributors) and their labeling needs & requirements?

Lisa: We sell strictly to the trade so this could be any one from independent printers to print brokers to franchisees of larger organizations…and their label requirements cover the gamut….from product labeling to government compliance to promotional stickers to parking permits. If it has adhesive on it, chances are we print it. We have about 30,000 active distributors in U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.

Tell me about the need or reason why the Domino K600i was purchased.

Mike: We started out doing consecutive numbering back in the late 80’s, early 90’s using a Franklin hot stamp…everyone had one with a plunger, with a head that goes up and down. We built another press in house to do our numbering and the business still grew, so then we bought a Jetrion 3025 and we still couldn’t keep up with the demand, so that’s when we purchased the Domino K600i in March 2013. We actually have 9 presses in this plant that can do some type of variable data, with the K600i being the latest.

How and when did you find out about Domino?

Mike: We knew we needed to invest in new technology and to increase our capabilities. Our customers have really grown this business, whether it be consecutive numbering, bar codes, variable data, key codes for software…the market is really exploding with variable data. We knew that Domino was out there. The Account Manager Dan Bracken did a really good job of keeping us up to date on the latest and greatest. We saw the demo at Label Expo last year and that’s when we decided we would go with the Domino unit.

What sold us on the Domino K600i was the way the head would go back into the cleaning and capping station…it purges itself so we don’t have jet outs. With the old-style heads typically we would have jet outs and then be down for a shift while the head was sitting in flush. So with the K600i, we have more uptime, no downtime, no jet outs, and auto cleaning of the printheads. So that was the main reason we chose it. And knock on wood, it hasn’t given us any problems.

Since the installation we have been running it 24/5, plus a shift on Saturdays without any glitches. Previously, the stitching was always an issue. The old-style heads were 2.2” and putting two of them together gave us 4.4”. If we had a job that included printing a big number, we would see the stitch mark. But with the K600i, in one encapsulated print bar, it has allowed us to not have any stitch marks so that has been highly positive. I’m running a couple hundred thousand feet of bar codes on press right now, so the automated stitching of the printheads has been key for us. If you have a big bar code, the stitching could affect what type of grade you get.

Have you seen an increase and/or difference in the types of print jobs you run due to the capabilities of the Domino K600i?

Mike: The challenge we had in the past was capacity. And when we took a large job, it would hurt our other dealers because we were not able to service them like we wanted because obviously we want to be a full-service dealer. So having the Domino K600i has allowed us to take larger jobs because now it doesn’t bog down that one press. It has allowed us to do rushes for our customers, shorter turn-around time, and handle these larger jobs without impacting our other customers.

Saving time on maintenance has also been a big plus. Obviously, with the old-style heads if we had a jet out, then we would have to fill that head with flush and not use that head for the entire shift. So from a maintenance standpoint, the Domino is a lot better unit that what we had before.

What are the key benefits that the Domino K600i has provided to production (in terms of throughput, increased uptime, less make-ready time, less maintenance, etc.)?

Mike: With the press that we put the K600i on, it has given us better capabilities.

Lisa: The uptime and the quality have given us more confidence to go out and sell.

Mike: In the past it was hard to go out to get more business when we were already at capacity. Let’s say we had a 5-day turn instead of a 3-day turn. It’s hard to grow the business when you are already at capacity. So the K600i has freed us up to run more print jobs. And every time we have added capacity in our numbering, consecutive bar codes, variable data arsenal, we have added new equipment. My goal is to buy another K600i, a little bit wider, and put it on a bigger press.

What has been your level of satisfaction with the Domino K600i?

Mike: It has been running 24 hours a day, 5 days a week plus Saturday. We run it every day, all day and it has not failed us.

Lisa: We have been completely satisfied. Quality and customer service are two of our big hallmarks and if we didn’t have the confidence in the Domino, then we wouldn’t be out selling these kinds of labels and we are…and we are getting more and more orders, so it’s a testament to the equipment and the service that Domino provides.

What do you foresee moving forward in terms of how Domino digital printing systems play a key role in your labeling operation?

 

Mike: The whole market is going more towards digital...more print on demand, more shorter runs, quicker turns, because companies don’t want inventory sitting on the shelf. So digital is the way to go.


SG360  

Domino K600i

“We were looking for what was going to be the most reliable and versatile digital inkjet printer out in the market. We did a lot of research…and Domino won.” –Kirby Ashby, Sr. VP & GM

Tell me about SG360. What separates SG360 from your competition?

Two years ago when we launched our SG360 brand, we changed the voice and the attitude of our image. We don’t just print and mail. We provide strategy and testing and design and printing and finishing and logistics. From the beginning of a concept, to the execution, to logistics, to mailing, to being in the mail box and in the hands of the consumer. Our visual and messaging voice is very different today and we continue to push the envelope.

Also, we are a campus. We are not one building that has plants in other cities 200 miles away that have to ship things back and forth. We are inclusive within three buildings locally for providing the marketing, manufacturing, execution, and delivery. I think that is another thing that separates us from our competition. A lot of other Printers have outside sources for what we do, but we have it all as part of us.

Our tagline is “empirical multi-channel integration”, which is the integration of all of the services we offer our customers. I can’t think of anything in the direct mail industry that we are not capable of doing.


Repacorp  

Domino K600i

“You turn it on, it prints, it works. And you don’t have all of those issues to deal with.” – Tony Heinl, President

Tell me about Repacorp.

From a timeline perspective, the company was started in 1974 and the name Repacorp comes from “repa-corp”. We were a reseller, we didn’t manufacture anything. In 1978 my brother Rick came on board and started to sell product. In 1988, he became 50% owner. In 1990, he and his partner split up and his partner owned one-third of a label company in Richmond, Indiana. Rick bought the customer list but nothing on the manufacturing side. We continued running most of our label business through various plants throughout the country. In 1994, we decided to get into manufacturing. We bought a building, bought our first press…a flexo press, and started to grow the business. In 1997 we moved into a new facility here in Tipp City, Ohio…about a 44K square foot facility. We added more flexo presses. In 2000, we were looking for an acquisition and bought a label company in Milwaukee, WI…the label division of OEI Business Forms. It was the flexo label printing machine and equipment that gave us more capabilities and new customers. In 2002, we were looking for distribution on the west coast, where we could manufacture for our stock label program because really the way that Repacorp started was in stock labels such as thermal transfer. We created a stock label catalog and a lot of the customers that we had dealt with had asked us to put some type of manufacturing or distribution on the west coast so freight wasn’t so expensive. In doing so, we found another company out there called Sierra Screen Printing. We thought if we are going to buy another company why not get involved in another market? So we got into screen printing and at the same point, once we bought them, we moved the facility to a larger facility and added flexo capabilities to that site as well, so that we could manufacture stock labels out on the west coast. In 2005 RFID was starting to get attention. Everyone was saying that RFID would be the next big thing and replace bar coding. We wanted to be on the ground floor of RFID, similar to how the bar codes started in the 1970s. So we started a new division and got into RFID, but unfortunately that did not take off like we had expected. Walmart had pushed it and then didn’t push it as much, but we were still growing that business…there were still RFID applications out there. We had grown it until 2010 when everything

Back tracking a bit…back in 2008, we were looking at getting into digital printing and opening another division for digital. However, we were really concerned if we should do that or not with the way the economy was, but we decided to go for it. So we got into digital printing in 2008, along with laser die cutting and added two presses in 2008-2009.

In 2011, we added our third digital press, that one at our Wisconsin facility. Then in third quarter of 2012 we added two additional digital presses, one more here in Ohio and one in our Arizona facility. Those two additional presses are right now being installed…they are not up and running yet. So we have a total of five digital presses…that’s a really big part of our business that’s growing. In 2011, we purchased Aladdin Label, in Milwaukee, WI. They had two manufacturing facilities which we closed down and moved all of the equipment to our building in Milwaukee and expanded at the same time there.

So that takes us to present and right now we are expanding within RFID. We’re adding a second RFID press as we speak and that gives you a little bit of history. We have had a really good year and gotten into good markets. I think if you pick up new business in digital or RFID, then customers also look at other things that you offer and it helps to grow that business as well.

That takes us to the Domino K600i. We had a Jetrion 3000 that we had bought about 5 years ago. The problem with it is that every time we turn that thing on, there is a problem with it…there’s a jet out, or something is wrong with it. My understanding is that you really need to run it consistently to eliminate some of those problems. So we finally got to the point where we had quite a bit of business relying on that press, but because every time we would fire it up there was a problem…stitching issues with the multiple heads across the web or maybe a bar code issue because printed bar codes were not scanning correctly. So finally I said, we’re getting out of this…it’s not dependable and we’re upsetting a lot of customers. So we really stopped quoting on those print jobs and started looking for a new system that would eliminate those issues. Finally we got in touch with Domino and looked at the K600i. The biggest thing we were looking for in a system was that when we turn it on, it works. And so far we have had good success. We haven’t had it that long, but we have had good success with it. No major issues. There is consistent flow of the ink through the printheads and with the capping and cleaning station, the heads are cleaned automatically. And that eliminates any potential issue with jet outs. So a lot of that business that previously we turned away over the last couple of years, now that we have the Domino, it’s something that we are starting to offer to our customers…there is a lot of business out there for it.

What types of customers does Repacorp have?

It’s a wide range of customers. We sell to distributors across the country. It’s all through resellers which could be in all different types of markets.

How did you find the Domino K600i?

We were putting some feelers out there. We knew our existing Jetrion was not a good solution and we started looking. We knew of Domino, we reached out and Domino told us about their technology and what makes it different than the Jetrion, specifically regarding the problems we were having. And then we saw it at Drupa and realized it was something that we should really consider. We talked to some other customers who were using it and they spoke highly of it, so we decided to move forward.

How did you cost justify the purchase of the Domino K600i?

We knew what the cost structure was for the Jetrion and how that works, and we knew that we turned away a lot of business over the last three years because of all of the problems we had with that system. So where we cost justified it was number one…the cost of the equipment and the second thing was the cost of the ink going through it. And the one thing we really liked about the Domino system is that we would be able to control the drop size… the drop amount, the amount of ink. So you really get that cost down, depending on what you’re running. But for the most part, you can price it out using a medium ink drop setting, and then once you get it on press you can figure out how lean you can go as far as the ink because a lot of the stuff we are running on it is high-volume bar code type products, variable print. So you can test it once you get it on press. We knew the market was there for it and we had turned a lot of business away. Evaluating the Domino K600i, and the concept of removing the printhead problems we were having with the jet outs, and then adding the continuous flow of ink through the printhead, that’s what really sold us. It was a combination of all those things.

Any additional benefits have you noticed from the Domino K600i?

We are now able to print scannable bar codes. That was probably even a bigger problem that we had with the Jetrion, than the jet outs. A lot of the applications were large bar codes and the stitching issue really showed up. If we didn’t get the printheads lined up perfectly, the bar code wasn’t going to scan. So that was a big selling point of going to the Domino K600. It has basically one head. I know that it’s made up of multiple heads in the print bar, but it’s already put together so that you don’t have to worry about the stitching. That was a huge selling point for us.

Have you seen increases in productivity, in terms of decreased “make ready” time or decreased maintenance required?

Absolutely. I can’t put a number on it, but I can tell you that we spent hours and hours and hours on the Jetrion 3000 trying to get the heads aligned, getting rid of the stitching. We wasted thousands of feet of material on each job to get it set up and run correctly. So far what we have seen with the Domino, those problems have gone away. It’s relatively simple to set up. You turn it on, it prints, it works. And you don’t have all of those issues to deal with.

What are the typical jobs that you use the Domino K600i for?

Typically it’s high-volume, variable print bar codes. And it offers a lot more than that; we just haven’t been able to market it long enough yet to do some of the monochrome high-quality work, similar to a four-color process.

Do you anticipate increased sales or revenue by using the Domino K600i?

Definitely. There is a big market out there for it and it’s just something that we needed. There were a lot of lost sales previously before we had this and we didn’t have a piece of equipment that we felt comfortable with. We were ticking off so many customers to the point that we knew we had to do away with our previous system, and find something that was more reliable.

What do you foresee moving forward? Do you plan to implement any additional Domino digital print systems in the future?

Absolutely. We looked at Domino’s four-color process system at Label Expo 2012 and definitely moving forward we are going to be looking at that equipment…the N600i. The speeds that Domino is running with the four-color process are incredible. And there are some specific applications for that press geared toward the flexo market, based on the speeds it runs. In fact, you really start to touch into the flexo market, where you could start pulling jobs from the flexo press and move it to digital because of the speeds of the N600 and the wide web. Running at 250 feet/minute, not to mention up to 400 feet/minute on lower-resolution for certain types of applications…that’s where we would start to look at potentially replacing some flexo work.


The Label Printers  

Domino K600i

“Going from a droplet size of 80 picoliters with our previous system, to being able to utilize a droplet range of 6 to 14 picoliters is amazing. The Domino K600 has enabled us to decrease our ink consumption by over 10 times. So we are putting less ink down on the material, and we can print smaller information more legibly..” – Tom Erickson, Plant Superintendent

Tell me about The Label Printers.

We were founded in 1967, starting out as an operation with just a few employees and today we have 65 employees working at two facilities in Aurora, IL. Letter presses produced most of our work at the company’s inception. Along the way we added flexo presses and eventually digital technologies such as electron beam imaging, UV inkjet, and digital offset. I joined the company in 2000.

What types of customers does The Label Printers have?

Our customer base is quite diverse. Brand protection/security labels are a focus, as well as pharmaceuticals, electronics, prime labels, nutraceuticals, and health & beauty. We produce everything from one color labels to multiple-kind, four color process with variable imaging. Pretty much if you can name it, we do it.

How did you find out about Domino?

We had one of your competitor’s UV inkjet systems in here and were looking to get another. That company no longer manufactured the one-color UV ink jet systems so we had to look elsewhere. We hit the internet and pinpointed Domino based on what the website and your salesperson had to say. We then took a trip to the Domino facility in Gurnee, IL. One advantage is Domino being local

What did you think about what you saw at Domino?

Well, as excited as we were by the website and what we heard from the salesperson, we were even more impressed when we visited Domino. It is a great facility. The team we met with answered all of our questions and was very accommodating. We came out of there with even more of a desire to form a partnership with Domino.

Tell me about the NEED to implement the Domino K600.

Well, let me go back a bit…more and more, customers want variable information printed onto film, which is why we got involved with UV ink jet in the first place. Our electron beam imaging system does not print well on films. At that point we ended up going with a different supplier. That was first and foremost getting into the UV ink jet technology. We switched to Domino for two major reasons. Number one was the 600 dpi (up from 316 dpi that we had been doing). Number two was the fact that it had the automated cleaning system for the printhead…that was huge. It saved us over an hour a day. With the other system the heads have to cool down for up to an hour before the heads can be capped for the night. It is a manual process. The Domino cleaning and capping system is automated so the operator does not have to wait for the heads to cool. Gaining an hour of production time is a big benefit.

Tell me about the types of applications being run on the Domino K600.

We have only had the Domino system since fall 2012 so we haven’t explored its full capabilities yet. So far, we print serialization, QR codes, security settings, bar codes…more for identification purposes and brand protection. We are using the 13.3” print bar.

What are some of the BENEFITS that you have seen so far by using the Domino K600?

With our previous system, at the beginning of each day, we were purging the heads, printing test patterns, making sure that we had no air in the lines to jet out, etc. With the Domino K600, we don’t have to do any of that. Automatically we are saving about 15 minutes each and every morning. There is a lot less guesswork involved. In addition, there is a lot less material used for the test pattern in getting a job ready to run. It gives us a significant saving in the make-ready time. The automated system that cleans and caps the printheads can be run while the operator is on break or lunch. This is a vast improvement over the operator taking time out of a production run to manually purge and clean the printheads.

How often are you having the Domino system automatically clean and cap the printhead?

That depends on the types of jobs we’re producing on a particular day, but roughly every four hours or so.

What about the print quality. What have you noticed?

With the print quality of the Domino K600, not only do we have more dots per inch, but we have less ink that we are using. With our previous system, we were limited to one droplet size, so we would change the voltages to put more ink down and control print that way. “Going from a droplet size of 80 picoliters with our previous system, to being able to utilize a droplet range of 6 to 14 picoliters is amazing. The Domino K600 has enabled us to decrease our ink consumption by over 10 times. So we are putting less ink down on the material, and we can print smaller information more legibly.” Today, customers more than ever want to get as much information on as little real estate as possible. So the Domino system definitely helps us with that.

What about StitchLink? The Domino printheads are automatically stitched together within the print bar so that customers can print such things as graphics and bar codes without having to worry about stitch lines or bar codes not scanning. Is that important to your business?

It has been important and will become even more critical as our work becomes more diverse. Yes, barcodes need to be seamless, but so do numbering schemes. For example, If you have five numbers in a row, and two of them are on one head and three of them are on the another head, or because of layout purposes you have two-and-a-half on one head and two-and-a-half on the other head, that caused alignment problems with the five-head system that we had. Now, with the Domino system, it’s seamless. It’s simply this is where the image lands and we know we are going to get seamless transition between the heads.

What amount of time was spent on trying to stitch together the heads with your previous system?

Worst case scenario we have spent, depending on the condition of the heads, anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour trying to stitch heads together, moving images around, trying to get the best resolution. Yes, we’ve spent up to an hour trying to accomplish that and sometimes we weren’t successful. We had to kind of go with what we got and that can compromise quality. On the Domino system we simply don’t have to do that.

When heads are manually being stitching heads together to get the print just right, some material was being wasted in the process, correct?

Absolutely. It takes a minimum 50 feet of material with each attempt at a change, so we have wasted probably thousands of feet of material trying to do that.

Has The Label Printers been able to get new print jobs because of the Domino K600?

Yes. Because we can print smaller and more legibly, it is nice for printing down to 3-point type. Also, for any type of authentication codes, QR codes, bar codes, etc. it is going to print crisper. Prior to obtaining the Domino K600, we had some difficulty printing a good, consistent code for customer trials. We are now able to so without any hassle. Quite frankly, we put it on and just print it! Before, we had to painstakingly manipulate variables in order to achieve the desired results.

What speed range are you running?

Has the Domino K600 helped increase sales revenue?

Has the Domino K600 helped increase sales revenue?

Yes, it has definitely helped revenue and I think there will be more to come now that what we have seen what it can do. We have only had it for a few months so I expect it to continue to take off.

Do you think your profit margins will increase as well?

Absolutely. We are able to put down less ink while increasing legibility - UV inkjet ink is not the cheapest ink around. Also, since the uptime is much greater using the Domino, waste will decrease.

How was the Domino K600 system cost justified?

Well, anytime you can decrease make-ready time that’s a good thing. Again, the uptime on the Domino is a significant upgrade from our five head system. When that increased by at least an hour a day, well, that’s a pretty easy sell.

I understand that you have purchased an additional Domino K600. What was the drive behind that?

We are replacing an older unit with the Domino. We have the work for it and we need to continue to look toward the future. We could probably limp along with the older system with compromised quality, but we had to look at the fact that the system needed some head replacement. We had to analyze what we wanted to do…start replacing older printheads on a system that is technologically obsolete, or do we want to go with the latest and greatest? It’s a significant investment to replace the older system’s print head and we liked what we saw in the limited time we have had the Domino K600. The advantages were obvious, so we decided to add a second one. Fortunately for us, we have the work and we need to produce it efficiently with the best quality that we can.

What do you foresee moving forward regarding digital printing?

Basically, what has limited digital print up until now is cost and/or speed. The costs associated with it will diminish as the speeds increase. Digital printer press suppliers keep pushing the faster speed envelope while being able to achieve offset or better quality. Digital offset is still the king as far as process work is concerned, but inkjet printers continue to get closer. A few years ago, you would only print very low volume work digitally because of the slow press speeds. Now, because of the faster press speeds, medium volume work can also be produced digitally. These presses are going to continue to get faster and/or wider and eventually dwarf conventional printing. It’s just a matter of when.

Anything you would like to add?

So far, the Domino K600 is everything that we expected it to be based on our diligent research. We are excited to be able to partner with Domino on our digital endeavors. Domino helps us meet, and even surpass, our customers’ expectations and should enable us to gain new ones.


John Roberts Company  

Domino Bitjet+ and K600i

“With the Domino technology here, because of the uptime difference, it really solved the issue. It’s all about uptime.” – Jim Beaudoin, Mailing Manager

Tell me about John Roberts Company

John Roberts has been a privately-held company for over 60 years, employing approximately 300 employees. I would describe John Roberts as one of the Premier award winning Printers out there. Privately held, it’s a family business on the leading edge of technology and growth in the printing industry. When it comes to employee satisfaction and employee retention, we are a flagship organization for printers / mail houses across the country. Originally John Roberts was a ‘print, cut, fold, ship’ type of Printer and has evolved into a leader within the printing and mailing industry. Mailing was an offshoot that was added to the business about 10 years ago due to customer demand. While the core of John Roberts is still Printing and Bindery, we have successfully integrated Mailing, Cross Media and Fulfillment to the wide array of services we provide.

What types of customers does John Robert Company have?

We have a vast range of customers from a wide variety of industries…Retail, fashion, health service providers, insurance, banking, marketing agencies, automobile, airlines, colleges, restaurants, government and small businesses.

Tell me about Mailing and the role of ink jet printers at John Roberts Company.

We had customers asking for mailing services, so we added a couple of Videojet ink jet printers. We were a complete Videojet house with a Wide-Array system, a PrintPro, and two BX 6600 systems, producing around 60-70 million pieces a year.

I joined John Roberts about 2 ½ years ago to improve and further the mailing department. I have been given the opportunity to rebuild and expand an operation that was previously just addressing mail, into a very complex mailing department. The department builds to the job due to the complexity of what we are now able to offer to our customers. Examples include large format processing, High Resolution UV inkjet, camera matching, read & print and 100% mail verification. We have rolled out this technology throughout our facility. Mailing and Bindery have become very cohesive departments, which helps us to

Domino Enters the Picture.

What was the NEED to implement new digital printing systems?

We analyzed our costs in our production processes with our current inkjet systems. Our downtime was considerably high. I didn’t know how we could be running a mailing operation when systems were down two to three hours each per shift. This definitely was not cost effective, especially when we were paying $5600/month in service contracts to keep the inkjet equipment running. We looked internally for a solution; was it a training issue, a process problem, or an equipment/maintenance issue? After studying this for about 2 to 3 months we were able to come to the conclusion that we had to change our inkjet technology to be competitive in today’s market.

What was the SOLUTION?

I purchased two Domino Bitjet systems; it was a completely new technology for John Roberts compared to our past inkjet systems…a brand new integrative platform. So the next phase included saving $5600/month, almost $70,000/year. With those savings we bought another two Domino Bitjet units with a GT controller. This gave us the opportunity to produce four up / four 2” print heads with variable information. This gave us the improved efficiencies I was looking for, moving us in to an inline production process.

What was the transition like?

Well, truth be told, initially there was a lot of concern with switching to a different operating platform. Understandably so, some people said, “ink jet systems will not stay up and running…it’s just going to cause more problems, more waste, the systems are up and down, etc.” But over a short period of time perspectives changed. We sent our operators and technicians, under Gary’s recommendation (Gary Peterson, Domino Digital Print Account Manager) for training. Gary said, “We want you to know how to fix your equipment, how to be self-sufficient within the organization.” My response was, “Absolutely!” We sent six employees from mailing and bindery for training on the Bitjets, and the GT Controller. We are now nearly 100% self-reliant.

How has that training and the Domino Bitjet systems affected your business?

The Mailing department’s overall costs dramatically diminished when it comes to service upkeep and not having to pay for maintenance through an extended service contract. Repair bills have dramatically decreased. Uptime has dramatically increased… on the Domino print-heads we will run, at times, for a week straight without even touching a print head on the Bitjets. The end result is that the employees,

Domino K600i

Now, let’s switch gears and tell me about the need for the Domino K600i digital print system.

We have one UV system from a competitor of Domino as part of the old technology. That system has three 2” print heads which gave us some challenges with speed and a limited 2” print width. I decided to look for a new solution that would increase our line speeds and print width; as a solution we purchased a Domino K600i.

How has the Domino K600i performed?

The K600i runs more cost effectively than our Wide Array. The K600i that we have has a 4.25” head and has tripled my speed compared to running our prior UV inkjet system. This is possible due to the wider format with the IMB bar code and addressing. With the Domino K600i, we are now receiving ‘A grades’ on the LVS scanning system. In comparison, we were receiving D’s and F’s using the previous ink jet system. By switching to Domino we were able to open up a whole new market at a cost effective rate for our customers

You mentioned that using the Domino K600i has opened up new markets. Please describe

We are ink jetting key fobs, customer appreciation cards, etc. that we could not previously produce.

How frequently are you running the Domino K600i?

Our K600i runs approximately 20 hours per day on average

How satisfied have you been with the Domino K600i?

Well, let me put it this way… For every customer of yours that I have talked to about the K600i, I have sold a piece of equipment for Domino and we may be purchasing another one down the road. What I found really interesting is that we were one of the first companies in the area to bring all of this new technology in that Domino offered us. Now we have a lot of our competitors knocking on our door just to get a look at our operations.

Michael Keene, our President, is part of a board called ‘The Round Table’ with a number of other printing companies. The purpose of this group is to share information as well as technological and process advancements. This board, from all across the U.S., is calling us now asking what we are doing, how are we doing it, why are we switching to Domino, what benefits have we seen, inquiring about the market

Have you seen an increase in productivity, in terms of “make ready” time, or more jobs produced in a given time, or decreased maintenance required?

Our make-ready time has increased somewhat; but for us that has been a very good thing. The jobs have become more complex due to the capabilities that we have with the Domino systems. Even though our make-ready time increased, we are able to drive more profit to the bottom line. We are being awarded more jobs that we did not have the capabilities to produce before because we did not have the print technology to get us there. It was a challenging road in the beginning. Anytime you change something, it’s always a challenge. But now with this technology, because of the uptime difference, it solved the issue. It’s all about the uptime.

Have you seen an increase in sales revenue by using the Domino Bitjets and K600i?

Absolutely, we have seen a large amount of growth in the demand for this new technology. Many of our top customers have toured our facility since our recent implementation of the K600i and they are quite impressed.

The Bitjets are nice because they are versatile enough to roll out into our Web department. This is going to be part of the next phase of our expansion.

Describe some of the applications that are being run with the Domino Bitjet and K600i.

Using the Bitjet, we are printing on plastic cards, full UV flood, and standard addressing 24/7. We have 6 Bitjets, 3 GT controllers and 2 camera systems that run constantly. Our Bindery department has not only embraced this new technology they have helped improve our inline process. Incorporating their ideas by moving to an inline process we’ve had to expand their area to meet new customer demands through utilizing the Domino GT controller capabilities.

The K600i has better resolution than Domino’s competitors, better drop size control that can be manipulated, and a wider range of substrates that can run. There must be something with the fluids because it seems more adaptable on certain substrates than Domino’s competitors. It is extremely precise and pinpoint accurate when it comes to the DPI and being able to manipulate the drop sizes. The K600i really gives us a lot more variables that we can offer to our customers in comparison to

Our previous system was comprised of 2” print heads so we were limited in the bar codes that we could print. When we received the K600i, we performed some testing and moved the lamps closer. There was a noticeable difference. We are getting straight “A” grades on the bar code. It doesn’t matter if we are running 200fpm or running 28,000 pieces per hour, we’re pulling “A” grades with minimum make-ready times. Before, there would have to be such a balance between DPI, speed and curing time because the bar code would wet out. By simply moving the lamps forward, there is nothing else touching it right now….we generate “A” grade bar codes at greater speeds.

How did you find out about Domino?

I have been in the direct mail industry for 20+ years in engineering, safety and technician roles. A few years back, I was in sales with a different company. My job was to sell Domino’s competitors’ services, repairs, and refurbished printers. Then we partnered with Domino and I sold the Domino product line for one year. So I know a lot about both brands and their product offerings.

What do you foresee moving forward? Do you plan to implement any additional digital print systems in the future?

We are currently running two separate platforms, but I would like to become exclusive to Domino at John Roberts. I would like to add two additional Bitjets and a K600i with a wider printhead. Once done, I believe that we will be fully integrated with Domino equipment.

In closing I would like to say that I’m very proud to be a small part in an organization that has the vision to foresee our customer’s needs. This is proven on a daily basis as Management and the production staff work to improve processes and always looking for ways to solve any issues that may arise. I thank my staff and the Bindery Department for making mailing within John Roberts the success that it is today and going forward.


Emerald Packaging  

Domino Bitjet+

“The Domino Bitjet+ is allowing us to take on projects that otherwise might have been thought of as unachievable.” – Todd Somers, Sales & Marketing Director

Tell me about Emerald Packaging

Emerald Packaging is a flexible packaging manufacturer focused predominantly on fresh cut produce, and other areas of the food industry, although fresh cut produce is the majority of our business. We are located in the San Francisco Bay area in Union City, CA, putting us in close proximity to our principle customer base in the Salinas Valley and Central Valley of California, otherwise known as ‘the bread basket of the world’. The close proximity to our customers and the ability to react to their needs is imperative to our growth and ability to support this customer base.

We are celebrating our 50th year in business. The company was founded by Jim Kelly Sr. and several partners, and then in the second generation of the Kelly family, the partners were bought out and the company is now owned and directly operated by three Kelly siblings… Kevin Kelly (CEO), Jim Kelly (Vice President - Sales) and Maura Kelly Koberlein (Vice President – Operations). The company has continued to reinvest in the business. We have a strong record of investing in our equipment, our people, and specifically over the last 10 years, investing very heavily in both equipment and human resources to continue to grow the business and continue to put out the highest quality products that are demanded in our market sectors. We do this with talented people that can resolve issues, come up with solutions, and provide new innovative products to the marketplace.

Tell me about your role at Emerald Packaging.

I came on board here 7 years ago as the Sales & Marketing Director. Since that time the company has grown about 40% in sales, added additional capacity, brought on new product lines including film laminations, different types of bags, projects we are working on now for track and trace, other new products that have come into the fold. I have responsibility for sales and marketing, which includes direct sales and well as independent reps serving predominantly the western United States. We also ship to national customers, as well as oversee our sales & distribution facility in Guanjuato, Mexico. It is a growing region in Mexico for fresh cut produce.

Tell me about Emerald Packaging’s customers and their needs and requirements

The customer base focuses predominantly on fresh cut produce, but it does cross over into various food categories such as bakery, confectionary, and frozen. Printed packaging has grown in importance within the marketplace, whereas years ago you may have seen things called “naked packs” where there was no packaging at all, or a standard one or two-color print UPC PLU (product look up). Those products have been replaced almost across-the-board by custom printed packaging, providing marketing outlets to packers and retailers. Being a printer of flexible packaging, we have really capitalized on that. And so what we do here is extrude polyethylene and take that polyethylene and print on it…up to 10 colors. We run (3) six-color presses, (2) 8-color presses and (1) 10-color press and then we take that film and turn it into a finished product. That finished product could be a roll form for form-fill-seal applications or it could be finished bags or finished pouches.

FINDING DOMINO

Tell me about the need to add the Domino Bitjet+ Ink Jet Printer to your operation.

We had a new project for unit-level traceability. It was brought to us by one of our customers, Growers Express (Green Giant) who wanted to more concisely target where their product was packaged, the day it was packaged, etc. This was primarily for food safety and traceability, but also for marketing reasons. The concept revolved around having a human readable and a QR code printed onto a package that was unique to each individual package. And then that unique code printed on the package would be boxed, with a label on the box saying in essence inside this box is numbers 1 through 3,000. It would go out to a field and then be scanned with a GEO tracker, the date and location code. Then there would be the history and the record of where something was packed, the field it was packed in, and so forth. The idea is that should there be any type of food borne illness, it could be tracked back to the specific field so that any tainted product could be isolated and removed from public consumption, rather than a complete recall which would affect perfectly good produce (just like we saw a few years ago with spinach that was recalled that ended up being perfectly fine). So by providing this information on the package, you could go back and target a specific field on a specific date of packing. And that’s just the food safety side. There is a whole other perspective on using these codes for marketing of the produce.

From the marketing perspective, the QR code provides a vehicle to help in building of brand loyalty and recognition, and cross-promoting other produce products. Any food borne illness would require the traceable features of the codes, providing a form of insurance, and the marketing aspects provide a form of revenue. So I think the marketing piece in terms of cross-promoting products and building brand recognition is really going to be critical, and the folks at Growers Express and the Green Giant label are going a great job with that.

So coming back to the challenge at hand…there was the desire on our end to be able to print directly onto the flexible package, in this case polyethylene, and to be able to do that in a manner where each

Why specifically did you choose the Domino Bitjet+ Ink Jet Printer?

We chose the Domino Bitjet+ for several reasons, but you could pinpoint it specifically to its size, speed, and ease of use.

Size. The Bitjet+ has a small footprint so it gave us the flexibility to mount it onto a bag converting machine…in this case a Wicketer, and allowed us to do this in a pretty tight space.

SpeedOne of the main requirements was that the printer would need to operate fast enough so that it would allow us to run production without giving up any line speed, and that was important to help keep costs down.

Ease of Use. TThe Domino Bitjet+ was easy for our operators to work with and it was important to us to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week virtually every day of the year, without needing significant technical support. We liked that our operators could be trained quickly in how the Bitjet+ worked, and be able to operate it 24/7, self-sufficiently

What was the timeline on this project?

The original idea came from the President of Growers Express a few years ago. He was really ahead of the times and very innovative, but the technology simply did not exist with what he wanted to do. And so we kept working on it and working on it. Our initial solution was printing and applying a label onto every single bag with a unique QR code and human readable number, but it was not cost effective. It was effective from a practical standpoint, but not from a financial standpoint. Pre-printing onto a label and then auto-applying that label onto a bag added to the process in terms of steps, in terms of cost…it was not efficient. The technology was not accepted by the customer base…it was too costly, it wasn’t sexy enough, and it wasn’t what was envisioned. And that’s when we took the avenue of seeking out an ink jet printer that would allow us to print, without giving up speed, directly onto a polyethylene material with the ink adhering at a rate necessary to be able to move the numbering system and the QR code fast enough to be able keep up with the speed of the bag line. And we ultimately came up with the Domino solution which was exactly what was envisioned several years ago.

Describe the partnership with Domino.

One of the things that I really like about Domino is that in the initial conversation it was not just about them telling us that their equipment could do what we needed, but rather they said that they would bring in the piece of equipment, put it on our floor and prove it. We ran a trial, and that was very important to us, because we had so many companies saying that they could provide a solution, only to find out that it was more complicated than they thought. So it was really important for us to take a piece of technology that we believed in on paper, and see it action and run it through its paces.

How long has the Domino Bitjet+ been installed at Emerald Packaging?

We have had it probably for about a year

The codes and information being printed onto the bags are ultimately for your customer Growers Express. What benefits have been recognized?

It is probably still a little early to express all of the benefits, but one of the main benefits we are seeing is code legibility. And that has been very important. We are going out to a customer base that, like most customer bases, is pretty unforgiving. If there were any technical issues or issues in terms of scanning or being able to read those codes, it would get back to Growers Express, then to us, then to Domino, and it simply hasn’t been happening. So it has been very positive.

What about the technology and using the Domino Bitjet+? Has that been positive?

The Bitjet+ equipment itself has been positive. In the marketplace, the product has been well received, however in terms of rolling this out to multiple labels and multiple product lines, it is still in its infancy. I envision it continuing to grow and cross over into other produce-related items. And it will happen in part due to necessity, but more specifically because people are seeing the success with what we are currently doing. The Domino Bitjet+ is allowing us to take on projects that otherwise might have been thought of as unachievable.

Do you have other customers like Growers Express who are interested in doing this same type of printing onto their packaging?

Yes, we do have other customers who are looking at the technology and talking to us about bringing it on board into their operation, and I am convinced that it will happen. It’s going to take some time though because what we are doing here is not a closed loop. The packers themselves, especially those in field packing, have a lot of work to do on their end as well in terms of infrastructure in order to be able to handle it. They have to be able to have multiple scanners, and scan codes in the field, and train people. For example, they may be packing in 13 to 18 different fields, on any given day, going through well over a million units in a day. And so many of them, while realizing the benefits of the technology, see the shortcomings of their own infrastructure, in terms of being able to handle it, and have to make decisions on if they want to implement it, how to implement it, and across what SKUs they want to do that. And so it is a little bit more complex than just going to a customer saying we are able to provide you this product with a unique code on every bag, labeled appropriately and so on. There still is a level of discipline and education within the packers that requires them to think through how they want to do something like this

One way to look at it is that the codes themselves on every single bag are unique…the QR and the human readable codes. However that has no information behind it from the time it leaves Emerald Packaging. It simply is a number with a bunch of blank fields behind it. And it is not until the time that the product is packed in the field that the data is then populated to show what the item is, where it was packed, who the specific packers were, so on and so forth.

How about the software piece of the track and trace solution?

We started working with TrueTrac, who was acquired by FoodLink. They provide the software portion of the solution, the issuing of the specific numbers, the sequencing of those numbers, managing of the data behind those numbers, and so on. They provide a critical piece of the solution.

How many bags are being printed with the Domino Bitjet+?

In a calendar year, we will print 12 to 15 million units with the Bitjet, and that’s just on the limited SKUs that we are rolling out right now for Growers Express. Overall, here at Emerald Packaging, we are putting out upwards of 2 billion units/year. That is either plastic bags or impressions for form-fill-seal applications in total for all customers

What do you forsee moving forward in terms of Emerald Packaging, your customers, and this type of package printing with QR codes?

I envision the marketing groups within our customer base, the fresh cut produce and the food industry, playing a much larger role, coming in tune with today’s world of social media and social media marketing. I envision our customers (the food packers) wanting to draw their customers (the consumers) into the fold onto a more regular basis and so one way to do that would be marketing and gaming and bringing people into giveaways and coupons and discounts that would draw consumers of product to scan the QR code with their smartphone, and go to a website on a regular basis so they could be more intimately knowledgeable about the products themselves and the products being offered. In turn, the companies packing those products can start to cross-promote their other products and build brand and consumer loyalty. And then go back to retailers who would be doing the same thing, to grow their business at that end.

I think there is a good fit in that Domino offers high quality, high efficiency, unique task printing equipment and to be able to play a key role in that arena is important, especially as packers and retailers start to look towards that type of marketing and branding opportunity.

What about for other sectors?

I think it’s getting the codes that are being printed by food, beverage and consumer good manufacturers off of the back, bottom corner of the package and onto the face of the product. If you can do that, it puts Domino into a completely different world. You are no longer the afterthought of manufacturing for track and trace only, you are now the forethought from marketing departments who are then dictating to everyone else how things get done and what needs to happen.

If you look at the Green Giant application, we are printing a simple white block right on the face of the bag, then printing this unique numbering and unique coding so that it is very prominently seen by consumers. At the end of the day, it’s quite similar to what gets printed on the bottom of a beverage can. Yet in the former example, the people driving it are not the production side of it, it’s marketing departments driving it. If Domino can find ways to promote that, you will not only move the codes to more prominent spots on the package, but you’ll increase your ink coverage area, which at the end of the day, gives you an increase in consumable sales. If your consumables increased 10X, that would be a great increase. Plus, to the brand owner, what previously was seen just as a cost is now seen as a revenue source and that is a world of difference when you trying to sell something. Instead of thinking outside of the box, it is thinking outside of the bottom of the box.

Aside from the QR and human readable codes, what about the flexo printed areas of the bags? Do you foresee an evolution to digital package printing?

Certainly if you look down the road, digital printing could certainly be the future of it. Right now we are running exclusively flexographic printing, but digital printing absolutely could be the future. There are some challenges to it, but on the short runs and quick turns, the high impact target marketing campaigns…it is definitely on our radar screen as far as what digital printing can do. It may not fit well within the large volume static print-type world, but you never know what will happen as cost structures can alter over time. It is hard to envision at the moment being able to run digitally 6, 8, 10, 12-million impressions at a time of static print. The value may not be there, but you can certainly see the value in doing it for a target market campaign or for a new product launch where a variety of different options may be looked at where you are running 50,000 or 100,000 impressions of something or splitting into multiple or different prints…or marketing on a regional basis. There are food items that have regional success that may require a different marketing perspective or different languages to be used on a package to promote it. You can easily envision products being promoted in English and Spanish for states close to the US-Mexican border, and at the same time promoted in English and French as you go north near Quebec and other parts of Canada. So whereas now those would require multiple sets of printing plates or multiple runs, digitally you could conceivably do that more efficiently.


Cool-Pak  

Domino K600i

“One of our competitors told us that if we were going to do this right, there was really only once choice, and that it was Domino.” – Niall Kelly, General Manager

Tell me about Cool Pak.

Cool Pak was a family business that stemmed from a 100-year history of farming in the Ventura county area in California. The family had an injection molding business run by an uncle that made green baskets for tomatoes and strawberries and farmers markets. Around the year 2000 or 2001, the family decided to get directly involved with thermoforming, as that was the trend where berry packaging was going. And so we got into that business and enjoyed very strong growth…up to $50 million in sales over the next decade. We grew and really focused on produce growers and related growers and their packaging needs. We’ve built a worldwide global manufacturing base with facilities in Guadalajara, Bakersfield, Oxnard, San Maria and we serve those local communities with the packaging that they need.

Tell me about Cool Pak’s products and customers

We provide clamshell packaging solutions for the produce industry. We serve a number of key sectors including tomatoes, mushrooms, leafy greens, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, grapes and general produce

We have in-house capabilities such as CAD/CAM design, graphic design; our entire product is designed in house. We prototype our molds in-house, we brought label printing in about three years ago so we convert all of our own labels in-house, and we launched our trace technologies in 2006 when a customer came to us and said that they really wanted to get involved with traceability. We worked with one of their technology partners, who have technology in the field, and we developed a system to enable them to start using trace. Today, we provide just-in-time services and support a number of trace technologies. We have always prided ourselves on being on the cutting edge of food safety, food technology and agriculture technology.

Tell me about the need to bring label printing/converting and variable data printing in-house.

We were starting to buy hundreds of millions of these variable trace labels, utilizing three or four label partners. For control reasons, for cost reasons, and for service reasons, bringing it in-house became a strong consideration. With some of our label partners we had print quality issues, a data integrity issue (sometimes the data would gap), or we had faded print applications…so we had some problems with the labels. They also were very costly and long lead times that were longer, so we had to address a number of issues. We took a look at it and said our volumes warrant bringing this in-house.

In addition, the trace technology requires a variable component, so every label has to have a unique identifier on it. We work with technology partners like Yottamark with their HarvestMark product, ADS, and FoodLink with their carton track product. We realized that with variable print technology in-house, we could work with these partners on their requirements, generate a human readable along with a Datamatrix or QR code, get approval on proofing and the input data. We could then ink jet that code onto a web of labels while on press. Those labels then get applied to the clamshell containers that you see in the produce aisle.

And even though we believed we needed it, the decision to do it took a long time. The technology that was provided in the marketplace wasn’t that great. It appeared costly, the inks appeared costly, they looked kind of homemade with ink jet cartridges. It didn’t look all that sophisticated and it was a lot of money, so we took our time making the decision.

FINDING DOMINO

How did you find out about Domino?

Well, prior to Domino, we had invested in another ink jet technology for our 7” press. We knew that it wasn’t going to meet the quality requirements and speed requirements for our larger volume business (going up 400% in variable print technology) so we either had to make the next expansion with that technology or go out in the marketplace and find something else. So we talked and searched around and a couple of roads led us to Domino. In fact, one of our competitors told us that if we were going to do this right, there was really only once choice and that it was Domino. So when a competitor tells you that, you have to be careful, but it was absolutely the right choice for us.

When did you begin looking at the Domino digital printing solution?

I flew out to Domino in October 2012 and I made the decision in November. There was no way I was going to buy the technology without seeing it run, so our Domino Account Manager Dennis Kercher coordinated our visit so that we could see the K600i. Unfortunately, we did not visit the other company on our first technology decision and, quick frankly, that was a mistake. This was going to be a larger purchase because it was going onto our 17” Mark Andy 2200 label press, so I needed to make sure this was absolutely the right decision for us

Describe visiting Domino and the K600i demonstration.

I spent a day at the Domino facility in Gurnee, IL and I was immediately impressed with the technology and the team. We saw the K600i printer in action with OUR real data. Because we had been working with ink jet technology from another company for about nine months, of which we had had a number of issues, we knew what problems needed to be solved…things like print density issues, especially as it related to QR codes and high-density printing, speed, quality of print, ease of use, maintenance, ink cost…a number of things. It was clear that Domino had learned from previous technologies of their own on things like maintenance and head cleaning, the things that can go wrong, and it was obvious that they worked on what is really brilliant technology for their new printhead.

Well, there is the sales pitch and there is reality, right? The sales pitch from Domino was about the picoliter variance with the ability to select and print from 6 to 14 picoliters, it would reduce our ink costs, it would allow us to print only as much as we needed, and it would give us better print quality.

And what were your findings?

The print technology speaks for itself. It is really high quality. During the demonstration at Domino, we ran at various resolutions…300 x 300dpi, 300 x 600dpi, 600 x 600dpi and at various Pico liter settings. We wanted to get a good handle on what our costs were going to be as part of the justification. So we ran 20 feet or so at that density at that specification, then bumped up resolution, or dropped Pico liter setting, etc. It was extremely easy and quick to make those types of changes to evaluate the technology. Right then and there I knew at what settings we would run the press when we got it into production. I was like “I got it” and then the Domino team ran some numbers on ink consumption so that I could then cost justify it at that point. That was pretty exciting.

Describe the cost justification process.

Our business tends to be very high volume. We were looking at 600 million labels with variable print for the first year. And when I looked at what our costs were for buying 600 million labels versus printing and converting them in-house, it was about a 2X difference. So on msi costs, it is about 2X to buy out of house. You run that differential for 600 million labels and it justifies it pretty quickly.

But that’s only one aspect of it. It was not just controlling our own costs, it was also about lead times for us…our business is very unpredictable being driven by weather, so having the technology in-house really would allow us to produce more just-in-time, and for us JIT might just be hours ahead of when we are going to apply the labels to the clamshell packaging. So that was a big deal for us.

Also, I don’t need to keep a lot of inventory. I can now just keep paper inventory. I don’t have to pre-run a bunch of labels and then have spoilage if it doesn’t get used. We can respond quickly to customers. We can control our own quality…it’s a closed loop anytime you do something in-house.

What speed are you running the Domino K600i?

We run it at about 230 fpm

What benefits have you seen from the Domino K600i?

The Domino system is a better engineered product than the other UV ink jet system we have in-house. The other system has had a lot of downtime. With the Domino system, we haven’t recognized any downtime on it, which is great. We have not had any issues with ink, and I suspect that the Domino ink is better and different than the other guys. We run the label press 24 hours a day, but we don’t run the Domino ink jet 24 hours a day…which is critical. Why? Well, we might turn it off two or three times a day, so it’s very important for us that when we do turn it on, it works immediately. We can’t have start up issues or increased make-ready time and with the Domino unit we haven’t had any of that…it’s been great. The print quality and the ability to adjust the picoliter level, without sacrificing quality, is a big deal for us. We can dial in the quality requirements as the job dictates.

I think it’s fantastic. The ease of use from the operator stand point is really great. And we’re just scratching the surface on its capabilities…we’re really excited about the Domino K600i and what we can do with the press, so it’s pretty exciting from that perspective.

It sounds like you have been happy with the Domino K600i.

I have been extremely happy with it. It was a big decision for us financially and technology wise, because it sets the direction that we are going to go for a long time, but I would not look back and there have been zero regrets. We are very, very happy with the decision we made.