Monday, August 8, 2022

Innovation Center at Brother International

 


It has been a long time coming and the Brown staff is excited to see that their hard work has paid off.  Brother International opened a new training facility at their Bartlett, TN location and the BrownDigital product line took center stage.  

This new product line has been under wraps for 2 years.  A single operator loads a garment and these garments are pretreated and digitally printed and returned to the same operator.  One guy does it all.  Amazing.

Thank you to Brother International for the opportunity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Getting creative during the supply chain crunch


For anyone who is chasing garments of every type and style, we understand your pain.  The supply chain issue is applicable to everything from ramen noodles in the grocery store to automobiles.  It is not just the finished products, but the raw materials and the sub-assembly items.

So what to do?

Get creative, that's what.  We have had conversations with customers who tell us that they have called 7 vendors to fill one order.  Or that they have converted brands to fill the order and told the customer that the original brand was unavailable.  Or they have had to start from scratch with the sale to find items that would fit both the customer and the supply chain issues.

Well folks, it isn't just shirts.  Anyone who needs a new car will know of the shortage of electronics that has stopped car production.  Or chat with someone in the foam industry and they are out of the base chemical to produce styrene box inserts.  Or try to find copper wire to install new power drops into a facility.  The list is long and diverse.

In our world, we struggle with it all.  Electronics to wire to small basic switches.  The largest eye opener is DC motors.  The screen printing industry, as a US whole, uses the same couple of motors on all conveyor ovens.  It has been this way for over 30 years, so all of the ovens in the field also use these motors.  Guess what.  They are not available.  So we have had to get creative.  We have sent customers to motor repair shops.  We have offered used motors at a drastic discount.  We have upsized motors and sent additional mounting brackets to make them fit.  We have found alternates that need new brackets but will work.  Anything to keep our customer's production running.

Just like you, we are going to great lengths to keep our customer's machines running.

Changes coming?

China, who is is one of the US largest trading partners, continues to shut down full sectors of their country.  While this continues the world will see additional shortages depending of what items are produced in those sectors.  

We want our customers to be aware that supply chain issues run deep but that the Brown team is working diligently to keep your shop operating at the top level. 













 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

POD production? It's where the world is.

Our roller coaster world has made traditional printing businesses  take another look on how they generate orders.  When schools and restaurants were closed, many of our community printers had to consider other avenues for revenue generation.  The world of online shopping became essential for all decorators, whether one off orders or bulk.  These orders can be challenging to pull into standard community printing production management.  

The old school paper production tickets are messy and confusing for small orders.  Barcode systems that can function for both small and bulk orders are cleaner and more efficient than sheets of paper floating around a production floor.  Scanners at each workstation can pull up all order details within seconds and connect directly with shipping software.  With Linx Production software, the barcode will also drive the printers, laser engravers and sublimation systems.  

Wait, what?  It can connect my online to my production machine and back to my shipping software?

Yes, Linx Production software can do all that and with additional modules it can connect to QuickBooks® and manage inventory and purchasing and print bulk orders.  That is a lot of features that every shop needs in the world of POD.  

While much of the US is opened back up schools, businesses and events, the online store is now a required element to a business.  Many businesses who used to allow sales people in their doors are now preferring to look online and connect through teleconference platforms.  These options allow higher time flexibility for the buyer and keeps additional people out of their workspace.  With the latest variant wave, this is a required element.

So how does Linx Production software do all that?

Beginning at a web store, information for an order is pulled into Linx and a barcode is assigned. This information includes garment data as well as art and print locations. The PNG artwork is ripped for the DTG as well as scaled for garment size and print location. For other print mediums, the art is converted to match the requirements of the output device.  The operator loads the item, scans the code and the output device has all the information needed for production. Print specifications are preset by the user as well as pretreat and cure requirements.

Orders can be sorted by all major factors. This aids in purchasing, product picking, pretreat scheduling and customer management. At shipping, a binning system allows for gathering of multiple items of an order with notifications when an order is complete. In the QC department, if a product does not pass inspection, the barcode returns to th production schedule for a reprint.


A QuickBook plug in will also connect your orders directly to your billing department. Inventory modules are available for small and large users.  Custom API connections are available to give full flexibility to your production needs.

How do you  get started?

Lins Production Software
Call BrownDigital today for information on pricing and how this system can be used in  your shop.  It is quick to install, simple to learn and will speed up order processing for small or bulk orders.


Friday, August 13, 2021

So many decorating options.


Brown did some recent DTG print testing and I had some thoughts.  This particular test involved a print run of about 72 shirts ranging from youth medium to adult 3xl.  It has a white crest print and a multi-color full back on a dark shirt.  A typical order for a community printer.  And a profitable one if handled correctly for your shop.  

What is correctly?

DTG

This run was done with a digital printer and our Synergy pretreat and FireFly cure systems.  At 72 shirts with a white under-base, this job took almost 2 hours.  The image quality was fine but it did look like a digital print. They are clean but they do not pop.  The estimate on the cost of each garment includes time and materials.

Shirt $2
Ink $0.95
Pretreat $0.30
Shop time cost  $1.66
Labor $0.83

Total cost per shirt $5.74     

The positive to DTG  printing is that once the art is approved there is no additional processing of the art to print.  A quick conversation from the PNG and it is ready.  Also, employee training is minimal.  Everything is determined by the Linx program within the machines and the operator only loads and unloads.  Additionally, the software will resize the art to the size of the garment, the job is easily repeatable and there is no clean up at the end.


Screen Print on an automatic

So, what would happen if it were printed on an ElectraPrint auto press?  Front and back, this job would be finished in less than an hour.  The look would be crisp and it would pop off the shirt.  The size of the print on the youth would be the same size as on the 3XL, which is a negative.  There is set up and clean up.  The art needs to be separated and screens need to be made.  Presuming that this design could be printed with 6 colors, this is the estimated cost per garment.

Shirt $2
Ink $0.06
Films/screens $0.08
Shop time cost $0.83
Labor $0.42

Total cost per shirt $3.31


Screen Print on an manual

So, what would happen if it were printed on an MasterPrinter manual press?  Front and back, this job would be finished in about 2 hours.  The look would be crisp and it would pop off the shirt.  The size of the print on the youth would be the same size as on the 3XL, which is a negative.  There is set up and clean up.  The art needs to be separated and screens need to be made.  Presuming that this design could be printed with 6 colors, this is the estimated cost per garment.

Shirt $2
Ink $0.06
Films/screens $0.08
Shop time cost $1.66
Labor $0.83

Total cost per shirt $4.63 

Is cost the only factor in the production path?

Well, we can all say "no" to that answer.   But there is $2.50 per shirt here in profit.  So COGS cannot be ignored.

COGS is a significant factor.  That calculation has to include machine time, shop time and labor time.  However, judging the flow of your shop, the availability of your staff and their skill sets, and the print preferences of the final customer will sway the final production decision.   If they want "pop" then they will want screen print.  If they prefer a soft feel, then DTG is a good plan.

So the real answer is that there is not a "correct" way to do this except to follow some basic guidelines.

  1. Is the customer happy with the finished product?
  2. Did you deliver on time?
  3. Did you make a profit margin that you would want repeat the job?
  4. Did this job delay other jobs that were more profitable?
If your answers are yes, yes, yes and no, then you have chosen wisely within the parameters of your production facility.  If any other answer comes up, then reconsider for future jobs what needs to shift.  Was the print accepted, was job late, or did you not make enough of a profit margin?  Because in the end, it is a happy customer with a solid bottom line that we are all striving to achieve.


Monday, June 14, 2021

New web site launch

We are excited to announce the launch of new web sites.

brownmfg.net is our main catalog site for Brown equipment.  

This site features the products for screen printing, from screen room to final cure for all production levels.  Additional content will be added as it becomes available and this site is more mobile friendly than our previous site.

On this site you will still find the popular ElectraPrint automatic printers.  These are the only fully electric machines on the market.  There are suggested parts list for many of the machines as well as cut sheets for installation.

From this page you will find links to the associated products such as the Set-N-Go and the QuartzAir flash.  

Set N Go

Within this site you will also find information on all of our t-shirt ovens as well.  This includes the TRX series, the UltraCure x-series, the PonyDryer and the Sierra dryer.  It is a comprehensives site that will provide all the details to help choose the right one for your shop and to help plan for the installation.


brownmfgdigital.com is our main site for BrownDigital products.

dragonair crimson
This site features the products designed for DTG decorators.  Direct to Garment printing has different requirements for preprint and curing than screen print and these products will speed up the workflow for all levels of production.  

On this site you will find the DragonAir Crimson which is a small DTG dryer designed to cure DTG prints at a faster rate and higher quality than a heat press.  

Also on this site, is the Linx Control System integration software.  This app takes your web store orders and integrates them directly with your DTG printers and through to your shipping department.  This is all run on a barcode system that keeps production flowing smooth and creates consistency within your final products.  



We invite you to peruse these sites.  You will find something that will help you shop with its production flow, product quality, or bottom line.



Thursday, May 20, 2021

When to update to new stuff?

Tech changes every day.  Our fast paced world is presenting us with new, and better, ways to accomplish most things on an hourly basis.  Some of this is very intriguing such as electric vehicles or 3D printers.  I do get annoyed, however, being told that I have peeled a carrot wrong my whole life and this new hack or tool will be the only answer.  And though I am sure that my carrot peeling skills are just fine, at what point does the machinery in my shop need to upgrade?  When is the new really better than the old?

What can the new tech do?

If the new gadget is cooler looking than the old one you might be inclined to switch.  Aesthetics in an automobile are important.  We all like new, shiny things.  However there are certain requirements that make a new device worth adding to a shop.

  • does it make a process faster?
  • does it reduce costs?
  • does it make a final product better?
  • does use less floor space for the same results?
  • does it require less power for the same production?
  • is it easier to use?
There could be more to the list, but the idea is that a new gadget needs to improve production either with cost or quality or time.  If it does not do any of these things, just wait.  Another version will.

What does the new tech NOT do?

Yes that is important.  If the new item does go faster or reduce costs but it makes an inferior product it is probably not worth the investment.  If it goes faster and makes a great product but the cost makes the RIO low, then it is not worth the financial outlay.  If it does not do all the steps in production that the current version can do, then this is not a gain.  New is not always better.

When should the old tech go, no matter what?

I say that with some wisdom.  As a manufacturing company who has produced machinery since 1979, we help people every day fix stuff.  We offer free phone service and with the use of digital photos, Zoom and FaceTime we are able to fix most old machines.  Many times that repair is priced quite reasonable and the customer keeps using a machine from the 80's.  

However, sometimes old is old.  Broken is broken.  And being thrifty (read cheap) does NOT help your bottom line.  Maybe you can get the parts for a 1984 machine.  However, how long were you down waiting for them?  How long did you have to search for a supplier for them?  Are they the direct replacement or did you have to modify the machine to make them work?  All of those items cost money.  Down time means late production.  Your search time means you did not spend time making sales or managing your production.  Modifications to old stuff takes both your time and down time and they are never quite what you needed.  Is that cost beneficial?

We do understand small business and the need to keep costs down.  We understand budgets.  We also know that if you have big equipment with big repair bills you have a hard time paying, then your really needed smaller equipment to suit your space and revenue.  Crunch those numbers sometime.  You might be surprised to find out that that big stuff you bought at a great price is costing you more than you make and newer smaller stuff would make you more profitable.  Hard to fathom sometimes but it is true.

How can we help you figure it out?

Most people do not like to discuss financial situations with sales people.  But the truth is, good sales people want to see their customers succeed and make money.  Think about your own style.  You want to have return business and you treat a customer with the goal of seeing them again.  Capital goods sales people are the same.  We would like you to buy well so you do well.  Then call us again for the next cool tech item that you are interested in.  So consider sales people as allies who gain when you gain.  Ask them if it is worth it to keep with what you have or go new.  Yes they will pitch new as hard as they can.  They have kids to feed, just like you.  But good ones will help crank the numbers to see if the justification is there for your shop.

You might be surprised by what you learn.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Trade shows have restarted. Are you coming?

 Our first show of the 2021 season is fast approaching.  We are truly excited.  There are so many positives to the trade show experience that it is hard to list them all.  Most importantly is the direct connection we get with our customers.  We are on the phone all day, we have many emails, and we have taken full advantage of new tech with FaceTime and TeamViewer and Zoom.  But there is a different connection when the interaction is face to face.  Or mask to mask as these will be.  

It is also better for our customers.  It is harder to determine what is the right path when purchasing a capital good if you cannot touch the product.  Consumables are easier, but hard goods are similar to buying a car or a house.  The user needs to be in direct contact with the product to understand all of the benefits and how they will affect their personal production floor.  We find that very fitting with manual screen presses.  These are certainly a "feel" item.  The operator has to like how the press flows with their hands.

So now both the exhibitor and the attendee have new opportunities. Visit us in Irving and in Indianapolis.  We can't wait to see you.