Creative Solutions optimises its upgraded Mimaki printer output with the installation of a Kongsberg digital cutter from CMYUK

Kongsberg X44 Digital Cutting Table from CMYUK
CMYUK installed a Kongsberg X44 at Creative Solutions

Mimaki loyalty complemented by Kongsberg power and versatility

Devon-based Creative Solutions has made significant investment in printing and finishing equipment from CMYUK.

The company has recently super-charged its production capabilities with the addition of a Mimaki JFX500 flatbed printer, which followed hot on the heels of a Kongsberg X44 digital cutting table, and a Mimaki UJV55-320 superwide UV printer.

Creative Solutions could be classed as a super-host when it comes to Mimaki print technology. Established in 1999 in the days before digital wide-format inkjet printers – it first produced banners using coloured films and vinyl cutters. However, by 2005, it had transitioned over to digital with the installation of two Mimaki solvent-based JV3 printers, a brand it has remained loyal to ever since.

The new equipment joins a posse of existing Mimaki equipment: a JV33, which is used as a back-up for banner production, a JV150-160 used for banner and vehicle wraps, and a five-year old JFX 200-2513 flatbed.

“We just have familiarity with the brand. We’re really pleased with the colour output we serviced our customers for many years and we know what we’re going to get out of the inks. The reliability, the JV3 was just the most brilliant machine as was the JV33. They just work. We don’t have any issues with them,” says Jedd Whittingdon, Creative Solutions, Operations Director.

The arrival of the Kongsberg

Earlier this year, CMYUK installed a Kongsberg X44 at the company. “I really wanted one of these for years because I knew how good they were,” says Jedd.

The push for the Kongsberg X44 was increased productivity, “We basically have quite a few jobs now that required continual labour,” he says.  “Where it was taking a person three to four minutes to do a job, the Kongsberg was taking ten seconds. It’s just an absolutely brilliant machine.”

Customers have benefited from the capabilities of the Kongsberg almost immediately.

“It’s allowed us to cover the materials that we used to hand cut and its given customers better price points, improved turnaround especially in tandem with things like the direct printers. It’s a quality increase because it’s more accurate,” Jedd says.

Supporting online sales

Creative Solutions is a company with two well established revenue streams – a traditional physical business, and a long standing internet offering, representing tens of thousands of pounds of on-going web development and SEO.

However, the Internet offering is not a direct online replication of the tangible, physical company. It’s a different beast.

The very nature of the Internet means prices need to be keen and turnaround fast. Through www.creative-solutions-direct.co.uk, it is outputting large volumes of smaller orders ranging between £300-£600 per job.

The Kongsberg is the tool to enable that cost competitiveness due its capabilities and fast throughput. It allows the company to the company to respond very quickly to online orders, and does so with lean efficiency.

“With the Kongsberg, instead of having three people do a whole job, you have one person cutting it out, sorting it out, ready to do what needs to be done. Obviously it removes the process of laying up and trimming as it just does everything in one,” he says.

Faster flatbed for new market opportunities

The newly acquired JFX 500-2131 was initially purchased so that the company could offer faster turnaround times, at lower prices to compete with competitors’ price points. It has enabled the company to compete in new market sectors like construction for the output of temporary building hoardings.

“These need to be at a certain price point and the only way to meet those was to just use quicker machines. The Kongsberg can cut faster than any of our older machines could print, but now we’ve actually got the printing equipment that can keep up with it,” he says.

Lockdown life

Like businesses all over the country, the initial lockdown bought a great deal of uncertainty. As a company that has traditionally serviced the exhibitions market, the cessation of normal life challenged the business to reassess its product offerings to address new demands by certain market sectors.

In March turnover dropped below 20% of the expected levels for the time of year. However, the timely investment in the equipment helped the company to respond and adapt accordingly. It very quickly spurred into action offering COVID-related products, offering safeguarding products on its website such as floor graphics and acrylic screens.

Creative Solutions remained open throughout the whole period, initially with a skeleton staff but after six weeks or so everyone was back from furlough. Over the Lockdown period, its turnover spiked, but has started to return to normal patterns.

New staff, new horizons

Jedd is certain that the exhibitions market will resume again, and when it does the company will be in an even stronger position to service it due to its recent investments. The new Mimaki UJV55-320 UV printer, means that the company no longer needs to outsource any of its fabric printing, all textile based exhibition graphics and soft signage can now be done in-house, and the scope to enter into non-traditional markets has opened up.

The business now has a greater capability to meet the larger signage customers face to face, providing a tier of personalised service and establishing the type of client relationships that the Internet just can’t replicate.  

“The Internet is always going to be there and is going to be massive, but for the big sign jobs you've got to be there, you've got to show your face, you've got to show you know how to do it, so that’s what the new salesperson is there for, he’s key for all types of signage that we can now produce in-house,” says Jedd.

Thanks to its equipment powerhouse, the company has a number of offerings that it is readying for both online and traditional sales channels, including customised wallpapers and interiors, both of which are high rating search terms.

“We can produce quality at high speed and we’ve got lots of things set-up in the background,” he says.  “We’ve got the pricing sorted, all we need to do now is get out there.”

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