How an upgrade doubled productivity overnight.
Studio 2803, metropolitan Paris, France. In the spotlight: an ambitious small company with high quality standards that has successfully grown and increased productivity with swissQprint – not least thanks to the scalability of the Impala 2 large format printer.
Punching above its weight
Studio 2803, located in Saint-Denis on the outskirts of Paris , was founded in 2008 by Emmanuel Branger. He is a specialist in high-quality retouching and holds a personal passion for technology. Studio 2803 offered only commercial printing and plates exposure to begin with, but then started to develop rapidly. Today, four employees work on image retouching, prepress, eco-solvent and UV flatbed printing services that include on-site product assembly. Studio 2803 is a small outfit, but easily stands on a par with the majors when it comes to infrastructure: it has ERP and professional order processing systems, as well as state-of-the-art machinery including the Impala 2 large format printer.
Studio 2803 leans heavily towards offering services through online marketplaces, but it also does business with agencies and direct customers across a broad swathe of industries. To stay competitive, Studio 2803 has set up optimised workflows and automated repetitive processes as far as possible. Of course, no two jobs are the same, but the team’s aspirations remain constant: quality and customer satisfaction are the top priorities. Thus, staff monitor the automation and intervene where necessary. That could mean fulfilling a special customer wish or achieving an optimum end result. There has to be sufficient time and flexibility for all the streamlining.
A change of course in production
In the beginning, Studio 2803 worked exclusively with eco-solvent printers. This means that the laminating process followed printing, a costly and labour-intensive step that often led to bottlenecks at peak times. Emmanuel Branger therefore researched ways to improve efficiency. “I took a lot of time for thorough market analysis until I finally came across a high-performance UV printer,” he says. He took in the scene at trade fairs such as Fespa, Viscom and Drupa. And it was at Fespa 2014 that he visited the swissQprint stand. His technologist’s heart beat faster when he spotted the ingenuity of the Swiss printers. “But there’s also a businessman’s heart beating in my breast,” he grins, “and that fluttered at the thought of financial viability.” By the end of his Fespa visit, there was a shortlist of five printers on which he would later run demanding tests under production conditions. Configurations and print resolutions were easily comparable statistics. Practical handling was the unknown, and this was where Impala 2 quickly stood out.
List prices and follow-on costs
“I created complex spreadsheets,” Branger says. His detailed analysis compared not only the purchase price but also follow-on costs and other important factors: maintenance, scalability, cost of possible options, price/speed ratio per square metre and, last but not least, the investment sum in relation to the anticipated service life. He concluded that the only right solution would be a scalable system, able to grow with the company. “The fact that swissQprint is known for precisely this concept, as well as its highly reliable machines, eased discussions with the bank,” recollects Emmanuel Branger.
In the end, he took advantage of exactly this concept by having the Impala 2 configured with just a single row of print heads. This kept investment costs relatively low while perfectly matching the initial order volume, which was then expected to rise. Meanwhile, it was good to know that a second row could be retrofitted at any time. “From the outset, swissQprint assured me that such a changeover would be a quick and easy affair,” says Branger.
Indeed, Studio 2803 had this upgrade in 2016 and almost doubled productivity overnight. Prompting the move was a large order in hand that proved very labour-intensive even in the planning phase. Emmanuel Branger saw that it would be impossible to deliver the goods on time. Sending the work out-of-house was not an option. So, one Friday evening, he called up sQp Impression UV, the swissQprint distribution partner in France, and agreed a conversion date for the following week. On Thursday, production started with the upgraded machine. And on the following Monday morning, the customer took delivery of the 3500 acrylic panels ordered. “Everything went without a hitch,” says Branger today, “the swissQprint concept is really well thought out.” Studio 2803’s operators noticed only the higher output – after the upgrade, everything else worked just as before.
Right from the start, the Impala 2 was running white and effect varnish in addition to the single-row, four-colour configuration. As part of the doubling-up, Studio 2803 had an additional white channel retrofitted to increase white print productivity. By now, white is seeing such frequent use that they have switched from one-litre to five-litre canisters to avoid constant change-overs. Emmanuel Branger is as yet undecided on whether to fill further channels, for example with light colours. Impala 2 supports nine in total, so all options remain open.
Studio 2803 continues to grow. In retrospect, Emmanuel Branger talks about a game of chance in which he played a good hand of cards and put his small company on the road to success, despite all the initial misgivings and risks. “I love my job,” he says, “as a printer but also as an entrepreneur.” In both those roles, he appreciates the cooperation and exchange with sQp Impression UV, especially with the technician who has supported Studio 2803 from the beginning. “Finding solutions is our working life, and theirs as well. We share the same mindset,” concludes Emmanuel Branger.