Alcan Composites USA's Care & Conserve sustainability initiative not only assesses the company's entire supply chain from raw materials to disposal, it challenges graphic designers and fabricators to consider sustainability when selecting its products during the design phase of graphic display projects. For BGI Graphics, Inc., of Paris, Ontario, Canada, creating "eco-friendly" solutions for its customers not only can reduce their combined carbon footprint but generate cost savings as well.
Such was the case when BGI Graphics recently created a retail-store fixture prototype incorporating Dibond graphic display board by Alcan Composites USA for Simmons Canada Inc., the top-quality bedding product manufacturer headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario.
When Simmons Canada introduced the Beauty Rest Black luxury mattress line to Canada in 2007, it wanted a more cost-effective solution than importing retail-store sales fixtures created for Simmons Bedding Co., its US parent company based in Atlanta. The Beauty Rest Black sales fixture was designed to highlight the unique features of this luxury mattress, which combines opulent fabrics and generous layers of memory foam with the company's eight-inch Patented Advanced Evolution NON-FLIP Pocket Coils. This stand-alone display fixture holds mattress samples and product literature and is decorated with graphics that include a cross-section of the mattress coils.
Simmons Canada partnered with BGI Graphics to find a more cost-effective Canadian kiosk solution that also would recognize Canada as a bilingual country, with English and French most often spoken by customers. Their first fixture design required BGI Graphics to outsource wood components and matte metal components. While this design was more cost-effective than its U.S. counterpart, BGI Graphics knew it could improve the fixture's cost, appearance and eco friendliness when it was introduced to Dibond by Alcan Composites USA.
So, earlier this year, BGI Graphics initiated design of a prototype fixture for Simmons Canada, utilizing Dibond Brushed Silver in 95 percent of the 2-by-2 by 4-foot tall stationary display unit. Graphics were digitally direct printed onto the 3mm-thick Dibond with two brand-new UV flatbed inkjet printers?EFI's VUTEk QS3200 and VUTEk QS2000. The Dibond was then machined to shape with a Gerber Sabre router and cold formed in assembly. The unit is bonded together with 3M VHB adhesive tape.
Substituting lightweight yet durable Dibond for the previously selected wood and metal substrates resulted in reduced fixture weight?from 78 pounds in the Canadian original to 24 pounds in the prototype?as well as reduced material, shipping and manufacturing costs, according to Kristian Carson, president, BGI Graphics.
"The Dibond has created a valued solution in the areas of fabrication, cosmetics, weight and cost," said Carson. "Bringing control of the entire project in-house with Dibond is a win; and, the overall look of the Dibond real brushed aluminum finish is superior to the powder-coated metal finish. The reduced weight plays a major part in logistics and its impact on the net cost of the program. At the end of the day, we have proposed a nicer unit with a lower cost in all areas while still being conscious of putting another step forward in sustaining Mother Nature's backyard."
BGI Graphics specializes in creating permanent store fixtures, signage, décor and merchandisers. Carson estimates that the original Canadian stand-alone display kiosks will be used for five years by Simmons and that the Dibond prototypes may hold up even longer. "The finished Dibond unit with hold up better because it won't chip or soak in moisture from seasonal conditions and mechanical floor sweepers," he said.
Additionally, the Dibond prototype allows BGI Graphics to offer its customer an improved cost-effective environmental solution. The company is focused on providing environmentally friendly products and manufacturing systems, according to John Kennedy, operations manager, BGI Graphics. A second strategy involves creation of "passive eco solutions" through innovated thought as part of the company's "Thinking Green" platform, he said.
"My approach to this ideology is based on 30 years in the trade in which many companies are highly focused on feeding their manufacturing platforms," said Kennedy. "The benefit of utilizing a smaller-format company such as BGI Graphics (a 30,000 square-foot manufacturing facility) is that we're focused on looking for new ways to reduce manufacturing time. We look for materials that can be structural and incorporated in the new digital print technology. Dibond met those requirements in the Simmons unit."
As a passive eco solution, the Dibond prototype reduces both shipping costs and fuel expenditures because 500 prototypes can be loaded on a truck versus 40 of the wood units with no wooden skids required to ship the flat prototypes. No additional freight charges and fuel expenditures are required to deliver the outsourced wood and metal components required to fabricate the original fixture at BGI Graphics.
BGI Graphics shipped the Dibond prototype to Simmons Canada for review shortly after completion.
"It's an outstanding-looking fixture," said Paul Bognar, president, Simmons Canada. "If we were going to invest in additional fixtures at this time, we would definitely use the Dibond prototype. The new Dibond unit weighs less than the original, which is an important factor in shipping fixtures to retail stores located throughout Canada. The overall weight reduction helps to reduce our environmental footprint as well as reduces costs. The Dibond prototype also offers improved aesthetics, with more overall shine to the display.
"Our compliments are extended to BGI Graphics for introducing us to Dibond as an option. It makes good business sense for both of our companies and it offers an improved environmental solution. Sustainability is very important to Simmons Canada and is more and more prevalent in the minds of Canadians."
Show-goers attending GlobalShop 2009 in Las Vegas March 23-25 were able to compare the Dibond prototype to the original metal/wood fixture at the Alcan Composites USA trade show booth.
"Display designers and fabricators were impressed with the improved appearance and fabrication of the Dibond prototype fixture," said Joseph N. Masters, graphic display marketing manager and sustainability manager, Alcan Composites USA. "They also were able to physically compare the lighter weight of the Dibond fixture by slightly tipping both the prototype and the heavier wood display. The Dibond prototype's lighter weight and ability to be shipped flat not only reduces shipping costs but fuel expenditures, resulting in decreased carbon footprints.
"BGI Graphics' ?Thinking Green' platform fits well with Alcan Composites' 'Care & Conserve' sustainability initiative in which passive environmental solutions play an important role throughout a product's life cycle?from the purchase of raw materials through disposal. We encourage graphic designers to consider environmental impacts during the project design phase and offer several tips in our 'Care & Conserve' literature for doing so when they select our products."