National Print Group, Inc. (NPG) is the premier provider of in-store and out-of-home signage. With headquarters in Chattanooga, TN, NPG has operated state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and sales offices across the country since 1957. With 400 employees and more than nine million sheets of litho printed in 2009, NPG is the one of the largest digital, screen, litho, out-of-home, and large-format POP printers in the world.
Michael Miller joined National Print Group as Chief Information Officer with the mission of selecting and implementing a common MIS/ERP system to bring all locations under the same system. At the time, the litho and screen operations were running on EFI PSI and the two digital facilities were on home-grown systems. This inefficiency made it difficult to manage day-to-day operations, especially as the company grew.
“We had a hodge-podge of systems running our four facilities, and we needed to centralize data and workflows in order to bring efficiency to the operations,” says Miller.
“NPG looked at seven MIS systems and selected EFI Pace. Pace was the only system that could handle the diverse needs of litho, screen, and digital equally well,” Miller says. The end-to-end, integrated management system is ideal for hybrid print environments and integrates with NPG’s Kodak Prinergy workflow and Metrix system.
NPG went live with the first digital plant in only six weeks—a record for Pace at the time. Three of NPG’s four facilities were live within six months. Today, the company has consolidated operations to three locations, all centrally managed via EFI Pace. Roughly 95% of employees use Pace daily for data collection, with 80 to 90 staffers in customer service, accounting, and management using the system more heavily.
“Pace enabled us to accomplish our two biggest IT goals—getting everyone on one system, and being able to understand profits across plants,” says Miller. “It’s also getting us closer to our third goal of improving efficiencies throughout the business.”
Miller is thrilled that with EFI Pace, he was able to quickly get all of NPG's locations onto one system with one common language. As part of this, “data collection, especially labor and material tracking, is critical to us, and Pace makes it easy,” he notes.
The second most important objective was also achieved rapidly. “We’re now able to track profitability at a customer level with a single, unified view. Many customers use all three of our plants, and before it was difficult to track true costs,” he says.
Miller’s team has successfully used the Pace APIs to build custom integrations to its Metrix workflow, though he plans to switch over to the Pace integration in the near future. Similarly, NPG has integrated its internally developed “Link” customer application (containing campaign management tools, fulfillment services, warehouse management tools, e-commerce, and store profiling capabilities) with the Pace system, “bringing incredible synergies across all areas of the operation.”
On the finance side, Pace’s reporting capabilities have been beneficial. Explains Miller, “The ability to write custom reports is great—we’re able to use the custom reports we’ve developed over time and have them hit the Pace database to ensure we have consistent, accurate data.”
NPG is using Pace to streamline workflows and reduce errors—an ongoing process. “We’re excited about the positive impact Pace has made to our business so far, and we’re continuing to use it to improve efficiencies across the operation. We’re confident Pace is the right tool to get us where we want to go,” says Miller.
To further this process, NPG is continually evaluating JDF integrations and has recently installed the EFI PrintFlow dynamic scheduling solution in two plants to optimize the entire business operation.
“It enables us to maximize capacity and efficiencies,” Miller concludes.