January '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 7 J A N U A R Y P R I N T W E A R || 59 MANUAL FOR NOW OR FOREVER? In the U.S., where the cost of floor space is high and the cost of labor is even higher, it is simple to make a case for automation. Inevitably, we are asked, "When do I auto- mate?" The press manufacturers always say, "Gottamate, if you want to succeed!" The traditional concept between auto and manual will be reached at some point, but only on a very long press run. Truth be known, it may be as few as a dozen or two shirts. As such, run length should not be the main criteria for determining auto or not. The fundamental differences in manual and automatic printing are labor-to-revenue ra- tio, color sequence, and throughput via wet- on-wet versus print-flash-print. An accoun- tant can tell us where we reach equilibrium, or the minimum number of prints which cost the same to produce either manually or on an automatic. In addition, they can run labor-to-revenue ratios based on real time, historical data. The good news is whether we intend to automate or not, the disciplines required for quality, throughput, and profit on a manual are the same disciplines required for auto- matic printing. For manuals, the infinite adaptability of the press operator and se- quencing drive manuals is relatively unim- portant since each of the colors is flashed. Conversely, automatics don't have a lick of adaptability without interruption, but they have near perfect "muscle memory." This mandate from the auto is how we can best prepare for manual printing. Minimize the need for adaptation and maximize the op- portunity for muscle memory. Whether we intend to automate, we can begin to pre- pare for it today. Regardless of whether automation is in your future or not, implementing an outline for qual- ity, throughput, and profit on a manual helps set up for even more success with an automatic.

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