Since its humble beginnings in 1989, Martin One Source has greatly expanded its business, its product range, and its customer base. As the name suggests the company is now a one-stop print supplier with a comprehensive product portfolio, servicing businesses across the USA Midwest.
Martin One Source employs over 70 people in three sites across central Illinois and is headed up by CEO Chuck Martin. He begins by defining the company: “The main thing that really sets us apart from the competition is our ability to provide so many different types of products. Our specialty really is very high end, high quality commercial printing work, but we really cover the whole gamut of the types of printing that people need to operate and promote their business.”
The commercial printing work has grown exponentially in recent years and the company had to expand its capabilities to keep pace with demand. In 2018, Martin decided that it was time to invest in a bigger press, this time fitted with an LED UV curing system to increase print speeds. The company had experience of running a conventional UV system, but were swayed to invest in LED UV after carefully researching the latest curing technologies available.
Following the installation of the new LED UV system, one of the first benefits realised by the shop floor pressmen was the space saving. As Martin explains: “For the conventional UV system we had a whole wall full of cabinets, that was as long as the press. With the LED UV, we’ve got a small box that sits on the floor… it takes up so little space.”
However, the primary objective was to increase production capacity and their expectations have been surpassed in this area, as Martin describes: “We’re running probably on average 3,000 sheets per hour faster than we were and it’s a bigger sheet so we kind of win on both ends – we’re producing a larger sheet with more print on it, at a faster speed.”
Doug Brady is VP Operations at Martin One Source, with primary responsibility for production efficiency. He adds: “We run a dual lamp GEW UV system on our RMGT press that allows us to average 14,000 sheets an hour on the press while laying down five colours as well as the coating and curing everything completely.”
The management team had heard about the supposed advantages of LED UV and were particularly interested in the potential energy savings and other environmental benefits. Power usage was a key deciding factor and the energy savings have since been realised, as Doug Brady explains: “Our old UV press accounted for 33 percent of our total utility bill for our entire plant. By removing that and putting in the LED system, we average savings of about $40,000 a year just in power consumption – so there’s a lot of hidden savings involved that most people don’t think of.” Chuck Martin agrees: “The efficiencies that you have with the LED UV are just so great, we save an incredible amount of money just on power each month.”
In terms of ROI, Brady adds some compelling advice to those considering an LED UV system: “A lot of utility companies out there will give reimbursements for the system. They look at the total investment, they break it down over 10 years typically and they look at the power savings over 10 years – and if the power savings outweigh the cost of the equipment, 9 times out of 10 the power company will pay for the equipment.”
Brady goes on to describe how these savings are translated to give the company a palpable commercial edge: “The biggest sales bonus with the LED is minimizing our carbon footprint and it really intrigues the customers to understand more. We explain to them the savings and we pass along the savings of the LED and they can see that in their pricing.”
It is well-known that LED UV inks and coatings are currently more expensive than their conventional equivalents. Coatings particularly carry a premium price tag, although they are often rendered unnecessary due to the instant drying of UV inks. Where a coating is required by the client, many printers are using LED inks in combination with an aqueous coating. The print team at Martin One Source are unusual in this aspect, choosing to use LED products across the board. Brady explains: “We only use LED coatings which, while sometimes are more expensive than aqueous, when you combine the price of the coating with the cost to run the GEW curing system, we actually come in more competitive than our competition.”
Another factor that offsets the higher cost of UV inks is the substantial reduction of work-in-progress, as Martin illustrates: “UV inks are more expensive, but if you can picture printing a big job and having ten skids of paper that are printed sitting there for 24 hours, so they can dry before you can do anything with them, that costs you money. So the ability to be able to just work the product right off the press, to me is worth the additional cost for your inks.” To add to this, Martin points to the improvement in quality that LED UV brings: “The look of the print is really much crisper and cleaner looking. The conventional UV way it dried, it would be kind of a little bit on the flatter side. Now with the LED UV the inks and the coatings really pop off the sheets. It’s more than I could have ever hoped for, they just look fantastic.”
Martin One Source purchased the press and LED UV system through RMGT specialists Graphco, a long established supplier partner based in Ohio. The machine installation brought with it the possibility of a lengthy period of production down-time. Brady was concerned by this, but the reality was very different, as he recounts: “The overall purchasing experience has been seamless, it’s been beautiful, it’s been very transparent. The Graphco team did a phenomenal job, GEW were here on time every time and they were here when we needed them.” He concludes: “It was one of the cleanest installations I’ve seen in the 30 years of being in the printing business.”
The reliability of the LED UV curing system is critical to the business and unplanned production down-time is not an option. GEW offered Martin One Source an ‘Embedded Service’ package which allows the GEW Remote Monitoring service to keep a watchful eye on the LED system’s running conditions over the internet, 24/7. This enables GEW’s Service Support Team to detect and correct out-of-tolerance parameters before they can develop into a fault. This type of remote preventive maintenance ensures the UV system operates at peak performance at all times, which was a further key factor in Martin’s final choice of UV supplier: “With Remote Monitoring, GEW can actually observe what issues are going on with the press from their location, without having to be on-site, so it saves an incredible amount of time. They already know if there’s a part they need and what exactly needs to be done to the press before the service man even gets here.”
Martin sums up his thoughts on LED UV and its future at Martin One Source: “For the environment, it’s a better product… uses a lot less energy, I mean a lot less energy. Now with all the efficiencies, you know, and the economics of the LED UV we would never go back to the conventional UV… we will be LED UV users from here on out.”
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