Whether you are running a part time shop as a form of supplemental income and you’re wanting to make the leap to full-time business owner, or you run a full time shop and want to double (or triple) your production capacity, you may have thought about investing in an automatic press. But how do you know if you’re ready? GSG is here to help you find out.

That was Then, This is Now

When it comes to automation, the game has changed in the screen printing world. The level of time and investment needed to purchase and run an automatic has drastically decreased in the last 20 years. In the late 80’s, the price for an entry level automatic press started at around $40,000 (which is equivalent to about $81,500 today). In 2016 you can walk off a trade show floor with an entry level automatic priced at $25,000. An automatic press also used to require a higher level of skilled operators, and took twice as long to set up as a manual press. With technological advances and pre-registration systems, many automatic presses can be set up in the same amount of time as a manual, and in some cases even faster set-up times are possible. Automatic printing no longer requires a highly skilled user for operations, allowing you to divert your more experienced employees to other tasks. So now that we’ve set aside some common fears and assumptions, now it’s time to ask: Am I even ready to automate in the first place?

The Job of a Lifetime

If the dream job of a lifetime walked into the door today, would your business be able to handle it?

One of the biggest mistakes that a business can make is investing in upgrades that only meet the current needs without considering the future. If you think it’s time to automate because you’re barely keeping your head above water (i.e. avoiding jobs due to complexity and size, or turning away jobs due to a lack of capabilities), then you could find yourself in the same spot in as little as one year down the road if you only invest in the bare minimum to keep up with your current load. Instead begin with the end in mind, and think about what you want your business to look like in 5-7 years.

5 years from now, in an ideal world:

  1. What is your annual revenue?
  2. How many employees do you have?
  3. How many customers do you have, and what size are they?
  4. What are your print capabilities? (I.e. how many colors, maximum image size, size of print runs, customization options)

Once you’ve thought about this, now it’s time to ask: What equipment do you need to make this vision a reality?  That dream job is the tipping point for your business, don’t risk turning it down again and again.

Quality and Quantity 

One reason to consider automation is the increase in print quality and consistency. Your manual press operator may be highly skilled and experienced, but no amount of experience is going to create the same exact print every time. An automatic press provides consistent squeegee pressure and angles, allowing you to not only do very complex prints, but as many as your customer needs. Most importantly, and automatic press doesn’t get tired, so it will print the same from the first shirt to the last.

Optimize Your Labor and Increase Profits

In addition to not getting tired, an automatic press will not call in sick, and will work weekends without overtime pay. With the reduction of overtime and long hours, you can operate at a higher capacity without hiring additional staff. The cost of an automatic press is generally no more than that of hiring an additional employee to print on a new manual. The return however, can be up to 3-8 times greater with an automatic press! A higher capacity, paired with increased sales and a decrease in excess labor hours, and you can reap the rewards of higher profitability. That could be raises for you and staff, money towards re-branding the business, or investing in others tools such as management software.

Working IN the Business or ON the Business?

Optimizing your staff isn’t just about profits. You can utilize the additional labor hours you’ve freed up to train your associates to do higher level tasks. This mentality can get you off the press so you can start doing what matters: working on your business.

Think about it, if you are doing all the printing, who is focusing on the really big picture stuff like: Landing new customers? Protecting existing customers from the competition? Researching new products and services? Learning new print techniques? Searching for new markets? Hiring new employees?

At some point, you’ll have to prioritize your time to one of two things: Doing the day-to-day tasks that keep the business running, or delegating those tasks and focusing on strategic growth. There will come a time that you realize you cannot do both, and automation can help you get there.

The Proof is in the Numbers

Are you ready to take the leap? If the answer is yes (congratulations!), it’s time to crunch some numbers. Fill out the contact form below, and let us walk you through our Budgeted/Base Hourly Rate Calculator! I hope this article has been helpful in your journey to automation.