Left to Right: James Lockyer, Mike Rawlings, Chris Leonard
Timing they often say is everything and Mike Rawlings MD at Signet Signs Ltd may well be inclined to agree.
Just over six weeks ago he took delivery of a Mimaki CJV150 -130 solvent roll-to-roll printer, followed a couple of weeks later by an ESKO Kongsberg X24 Sign Starter system from CMYUK. These joined a recently purchased laminator.
“Without the X24 we’d be smashed,” says Mike. “If we didn’t have it there’s no way we could have coped with the volume of work coming in. We just wouldn’t.”
This is a very different sentiment to what he felt at the start of Lockdown. “We were potentially looking at a 50-year old company going under through no fault of our own as the sectors we service – business and education were closed and it was looking really grim,” he admits.
The company’s launch of COVID-19 safety signage schools, a set of non-threatening child-friendly cartoon designs, have been a huge hit. The range consists of ‘how-to’ stickers for washing hands as well as playful floor and wall graphics for social distancing.
Signet Signs Ltd has been inundated with orders for these. “It’s been border line not being able to cope busy, to the point where we had to have a three day session – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – and we don’t usually work at the weekends – where we were packing solidly. We were putting prints into boxes, labeling them and then placing them by the back door. We had to have a dedicated pick-up from our courier because there was so many orders going out,” he says.
It was 10 months ago that the Sign and Playground Marking specialist decided to replace its old, UV flatbed as manufacturer support for it was being withdrawn. Having met CMYUK at a trade show in 2019 and impressed by its consultative rather than sales approach, Signet Signs Ltd looked to the UK’s largest independent supplier of printers, cutters and materials to overhaul its production proposition.
It opted for the Mimaki CJV150 –130, a solvent roll-to-roll printer because of industry-wide popularity and reputation for reliability. “It’s a tried and tested product,” says Mike. “We knew we’d have lots of support not just from CMYUK but also on-line as so many people have got one.”
The Mimaki replaces an old UV flatbed and one of the greatest advantages it has over its predecessor is that there is no need to load between runs. “The amount of banners we are pushing through is ridiculous,” says Mike, “but now we can leave the printer running overnight. So instead of having eight hours of print time a day, we’ve jumped to 24. As far as turnaround is concerned, we’ve tripled our total capacity,” he says.
The decision to purchase the ESKO X24 digital cutting table was based on the company’s decision to stop outsourcing its work. “COVID-19 aside, the X24 was always going to pay for itself anyway, quite simply because we have bought back thousands of pounds worth of work that we've been farming out,” says Mike. “Now, not only do we have control over quality but timescales as well.”
All this and with a long-standing staff of 12, which performs exceptionally well as a team and goes that extra mile for its customers, Signet Signs ltd is future-ready. “To be honest, the COVID signage is just a bonus,” says Mike. “Our new capabilities mean that when we’re visiting customers we can offer much more creative solutions, fast turnaround times, quality and alternative options that set us apart.”
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