Canon Solutions America Inc., Production Print Systems

First Edge Solutions Deploys Oce VarioPrint Ultra Digital Printers and Oce PRISMA Software to Help Achieve 25 Percent Growth

Océ, a Canon Group Company and an international leader in digital document management, today announced that First Edge Solutions has deployed four Océ VarioPrint Ultra systems along with Océ PRISMAproduction workflow software as part of a strategy for 25 percent growth in 2011.

Headquartered in Milwaukee, WI, First Edge Solutions delivers innovative marketing communication, print and document management services. The company also has facilities in Phoenix, AZ and Atlanta, GA.

Old Printers Were Inefficient, Costly

First Edge needed to replace old printing equipment that had high cost points and. didn’t meet efficiency goals. The company was taking on more work and needed a solution that could grow beyond current run rates. Even with their impressive 10 percent, recession-era annual growth, First Edge felt 25 percent growth was possible with the right equipment. First Edge also wanted to grow margins and was looking for the right technology to help make these changes possible.

Customer Satisfaction Depends on Speed

Speed and quality are huge differentiators in the commercial printing market. First Edge has tight turnaround agreements with many clients. One customer can submit orders as late as 2 PM, and the SLA requires First Edge to print, fulfill and ship that day, even across country.

To meet these extreme deadlines on a daily basis, First Edge has built an extremely accurate, very automated process. “We believe in a ‘lights out’ approach and write our code to eliminate manual process steps. By operating this way, we can guarantee customer satisfaction. This differentiates us because we use brain power and technology to eliminate the competition, and it’s worked. It’s the reason we are growing at 25 percent conservatively in a recession,” said First Edge President and CEO, Robert Kraft.

Print as Part of Supply Chain

“We don’t sell print; we sell communications and supply chain solutions. Print is part of that. It’s about leveraging technology on the front end and Océ on the backend to integrate efficiently,” Kraft said.

Océ PRISMA Streamlines Supply Chain

Océ PRISMA software lets First Edge integrate proprietary automation systems into the supply chain workflow, which goes from content creation to content delivery and all points in between. Océ PRISMA software streamlines processes and helps eliminate bottlenecks in getting work from customers to production.

Taking Downtime Out of Production

In 2010, roughly 80 percent of the work was recurring and could be automated, but the older printers couldn’t handle the workload and data. Mid-production crashes caused downtime in the automated workflow. The Océ systems have eliminated this problem.

First Edge produces a lot of data-intensive variable direct mail. Before, they had to break the large files into smaller ones to keep the older printers from crashing. Now they can put everything through Océ PRISMA workflow in one file for faster, automation with minimal errors.

“We have been surprised with how far we can stretch the printers in terms of durability and the ability to avoid mid-production file crashes,” said Mike Herald, First Edge Solutions Director of Manufacturing. “The Océ technology gives us the confidence and ability to plan and run three heavy shifts and send complex files without fear of a mid-production crash.”

Océ PRISMA Software Enables Nimble Response

“The biggest thing for us is the ability to streamline our web-to-print and other proprietary systems through Océ PRISMA software. The nimbleness it gives us allows us to respond quickly to customers. We can get work out as fast, accurately and automatically as possible,” said Herald.

How Print Helps Security Measures

The robust processing power of Océ PRISMA software helps guard against security breaches. Avoiding mid-production file crashes also means fewer misprints end up in the secure waste bins. Océ print quality also contributes. “The quality of print has drastically improved, which allows us to print accurately without waste,” Herald noted.

Duplicating Workflow for Redundant Sites

“Redundant sites are part of our growth strategy, and that’s one reason we acquired the Arizona plant. We now have both sites running off the same Océ equipment, so back up any time would be a non-issue,” said Kraft.

The Océ VarioPrint systems and Océ PRISMA software run across both sites to accelerate time to market and decrease costs. First Edge has many large national corporate clients, and they can easily split work between the two plants to maximize equipment time. They also eliminate significant costs for clients on shipping.

Applications: Booklets to Self-Mailers

The Océ systems were installed in March 2010 and now are running three shifts in the Milwaukee and Phoenix plants.  Applications include booklets, brochures, and all kinds of self-mailers. An offset department complements the digital output with color shells and overprints.

Proud to Be an Océ Customer

“We’re very proud to say we’re an Océ customer, and it’s because of their culture. They truly listen, and it’s so refreshing to have an honest conversation and see their genuine concern for our business,” said Kraft.

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