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Indexx accelerates job throughput and sales

Sep 1, 2005 12:00 AM

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In 1993, Jordan Finn purchased the assets of a small copy shop in Greenville, SC. A dozen years later, Finn’s nine-person copy shop has blossomed into Indexx Printing Solutions, a $9-million operation with 70 employees. Interestingly, Finn had no prior printing experience—he’s a CPA by trade. But he does have a service-oriented, entrepreneurial spirit and that has made all the difference for Indexx.

With a full line of offset and digital printing and copying solutions—and cutting-edge prepress, finishing and bindery offerings—Indexx is well positioned to meet its goal of delivering all jobs accurately, on time and at competitive prices. In fact, the company’s sales have doubled during the past three years.

Finding a better way
As a midsize commercial printer, Indexx produces a variety of materials, including books, brochures, letterhead, flyers and bulletins. On a typical day, the company might process up to 50 concurrent jobs, all with demands for rapid turnaround in several days. Given the volume and variety work as well as an aggressive production schedule, Indexx’s job planning, estimating and prepress departments must function at peak efficiency.

Imposing multiple jobs onto a single press sheet helps Indexx minimize prepress time and maximize utilization of the company’s most valuable assets—its presses. Fewer press makereadies also dramatically reduce ink usage and paper waste.

Indexx’s prepress and planning teams originally determined optimum press sheet utilization the old-fashioned way: with calculators, pencils and graph paper. But the labor-intensive process was error-prone. Clearly, automation could save valuable time, materials and resources. In 2005, Indexx prepress manager Richard Bowers learned about Metrix layout software. In the demo, Bowers saw a 12-out job plan quickly transformed into a 15-out sheet by recalculating it for a three-side bleed, a move that used 20 percent less stock.

Metrix job layout software quickly calculates and creates the most efficient, cost-effective press sheet layouts, enabling printers to capitalize on gang jobs—even those with varying run lengths. Estimators and production planners reportedly can try “what-if” scenarios in seconds. The program takes grain direction into consideration and also supplies folding data.

True to its innovative roots, Indexx Printing Solutions was one of the first companies in North America to implement the award-winning Metrix job planning software. After just five months using the software, the company sees impressive bottom-line savings.

According to plant manager Mike Lawing, Indexx initially perceived Metrix as a tool that would speed job turnaround. But the printer soon discovered additional benefits.

“We realized that Metrix was helping us double the work capacity of the planning and estimating departments—without any increase in staff,” explains Lawing. “Metrix also helped us cut prepress imposition time per job by 50 percent.”

Indexx reports that with one to two job planners using Metrix, each operator can save four to five hours of labor per day. With each operator completing five additional jobs per day, productivity has doubled. As a result, a greater number of jobs gets to the pressroom faster, increasing the company’s press utilization and overall throughput by 20 percent.

Complex calculations at the click of a button
Whether planning press runs of one or 100 products of different sizes and quantities—each with different bleeds and grain direction requirements—Metrix calculates the optimum press sheet layout with the click of a button.

Indexx personnel found the software user-friendly. Within two weeks of installing Metrix and only two hours of Web-based training, Bowers and planning manager Joey Martin already were exploring Metrix’s capabilities and enjoying its efficiencies.

“Coming up to speed with Metrix was a surprisingly seamless process,” relates Bowers. “Because Metrix exports layout data in CIP3, JDF, and imposition templates, it was easy for us to integrate the solution into our existing prepress workflow and postpress equipment.” (Metrix can integrate with MIS systems by importing JDF data and exporting JDF, CIP3 and Preps template files.)

Entrepreneurial spirit
Indexx Printing Solutions is a company on the fast track. It has doubled in size during the last three years, while maintaining the same production capacity. Lawing credits this, in part, to the adoption of advanced technologies such as Metrix.

“We’ve grown our business by 37 percent this year alone,” says Lawing. “Not only are we serving our existing customer base more efficiently, but we’ve also attracted new clients. Since implementing Metrix, we’ve grown our new business base by nine percent.”

Metrix was among 17 winners of the 2005 PIA/GATF InterTech awards honoring excellence in innovative technology for the graphic communications industry. The nomination criteria stipulate that the technology be recently developed, but out of beta and proven in industrial application, though not yet in widespread use. The technology also must be expected to have a major impact on the graphic communications industry over the next five years.

“I guess the word is out about Metrix, our secret weapon,” concedes Bowers. “But we’re determined to keep Indexx one step ahead of the competition by adopting innovative solutions that help us better serve our customers.”

The results
Using Metrix job planning software has enabled Indexx’s planning and estimating department to do twice as many jobs without adding staff. Other benefits include:

  • Reduced prepress time by 50 percent.
  • Increased throughput by 20 percent.
  • Maximized press capacity.
  • Reduced paper waste by 10 percent.
  • Increased new customer sales by 9 percent.

Indexx Printing Solutions at a glance:

  • Specialty: commercial printing and digital copying
  • Revenue: $9 million
  • Size: 70 employees
  • Headquarters: Greenville, SC
  • Founded: 1993