General Data manufactures high-end labels for a variety of niche and general markets, running three facilities in a three-shift flexographic and digital print production operation. The company has nearly 300 employees, with about 50 dedicated Radius users per shift on the new workflow system.
“After 15 years, we had outgrown our EFI PSI ERP solution,” says Tom Gornall, Jr., General Data’s director of supply chain management. “We reviewed a number of offerings, but we chose the Packaging Suite because it was the only one we could configure to our existing workflow and scale for our future. Other systems we looked at would have required us to mold our workflow to their system, and we didn’t want to do that.
“Plus, with Radius ERP in our suite,” Gornall adds “we are not only able to connect to other systems within the business, but we can also make required changes ourselves as needs change.”
The EFI Packaging Suite is a component-based workflow that gives label and packaging converters the power to automate and optimize their operations, from client desktops through administration, production and delivery. The suite combines smart software, end-to-end certified workflows, and synchronized development/release cycles to ensure a comprehensive performance-enhancing portfolio that scales as needs change.
“At General Data, we pride ourselves on our service level, and our ability to produce just about any type of label, with our own laboratory facility on-site to do all kinds of testing of adhesives, liners, face sheets and more,” says Gornall. “While most of our offerings are unique, we still need to deliver them in a timely fashion and on budget. That’s why it is important to have an efficient and fully functional ERP workflow that helps us manage the business effectively and deliver product on time.”
One area of the business that has benefited from the change is estimating. “In the past, our lead time for estimates could be up to a couple of hours,” Gornall explains. “Now our sales team can update their own estimates, changing quantities and the like, while they are on the phone with the customer. It’s minutes now, instead of hours, which makes us more efficient and responsive.”
Parallel live and pilot Packaging Suite systems installed at General Data are making the workflow shift easier for staff, as the pilot system gives users the ability to make trial alterations to jobs, schedules or other workflow items and see how their changes could affect the rest of the company’s operations. “This is a really nice capability the EFI Packaging Suite offers,” he adds, because it helps staff build their familiarity with and confidence in the new workflow.
As a long-time EFI workflow user, General Data has had positive past experiences with EFI to solve even complex production management problems. Gornall believes EFI’s willingness to listen to its customers and improve its workflow technologies are key advantages.
Each year, for example, EFI asks Radius users to request their top three wish list items for the software. Working in conjunction with the Radius User Group (RUG) committee, the enhancements are grouped and voted on by all users from within the community to set priorities for future enhancements. Giving ownership of the software direction to users working within a worldwide forum like the RUG is a compelling approach that has big benefits for a wide range of EFI customers.
“In our experience, we’ve seen that EFI quickly implements wish list items from its users,” Gornall says. “In one case, General Data and other users identified a wish-list item that EFI said might take three or four years to accomplish – but then they got it done in less than a year.”