How to Save Time and Money

Session at Printing United covers ‘Wide-Format Application and Utilization Survey’ results. 

This article was co-written by Adrienne Palmer, Mark Kissling, and Grant Freking


Big Picture and Keypoint Intelligence released the results of their joint survey taken by the magazine’s subscribers during the “Wide Format Application + Utilization: A Study of Productivity and Profitability” session at Printing United. The presentation was given by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Big Picture, and Eric Zimmerman, director of wide format printing, Keypoint Intelligence. They put the findings of the survey and other related questions to the panel: Jason Ahart, chief operating officer, Olympus Group; Stan Lucas, business development manager, wide format, DCG One; and Chris Laniak, VP of sales, Excelsus Solutions. The topics included applications, equipment, workflow, and automation.Session speakers

The survey found that 65 percent of Big Picture subscribers are either the CEO, president, or owner of their companies with most ranging from $250,000 to $5 million in annual revenue. An average of 43 percent of their revenue is derived from wide-format printing and 72 percent expect growth of 10 percent in the coming year. The top applications are banners (72 percent), signs (70 percent), window graphics (45 percent), decals (42 percent), posters (41 percent), and vehicle graphics (31 percent). All of these are reported to be above 50 percent in gross profit.

Anticipated growth areas include fabric with internal light, according to Ahart and Laniak. Wallcoverings, supergraphics, and window treatments – all for retail merchandising – are Lucas’ expected areas of growth. The survey showed that finishing equipment, flatbed/hybrid printers, and durable inks will be investments within the next two years. Ahart is looking at a Durst P5 and automation for sewing, Laniak is looking into dye sub, and Lucas is adding cutters and possibly dye sub to his company’s largely commercial printing facility.

The survey looked at workflow trends and errors that lead to waste, finding that “often” and “sometimes” added together, a printer problem (48 percent), bad data (38 percent), finishing error (29 percent) or long setup (29 percent) were responsible. Ahart brought up temperature and humidity factors within his three nationwide facilities (Denver, Orlando, and Milwaukee), Laniak mentioned static and finishing, and Lucas cited the need for continuing education to overcome such errors. Finally, the survey looked at automation, with 28 percent reporting as all manual, 21 percent as mostly manual, 32 percent with some automation, 14 percent as mostly automated, and 5 percent with full automation. While all members of the panel recognized the value automation brings, they also felt most shops were not likely ready to attempt to be mostly or fully automated.

The results of the survey will be released in a summary document, a three-part series in Big Picture magazine, and a live webinar in 2020. To receive the summary document you must have completed the survey or you can request it by emailing adrienne.palmer@stmediagroup.com.