What to Think About When You’re Thinking About an Automatic Press
So you’ve decided that you have the business need to get an automatic press. That’s great! An automatic press will definitely help you with increasing capacity and reducing stress in your operation. Now that you’ve made this step, there are a few things to consider when deciding which machine you should get.
Service & Support
An automatic press is only worth the money if it is running. Workhorse equipment is extremely reliable, but as with all equipment, problems do arise. Workhorse presses are made in the USA, and they have technicians throughout the country. SPSI’s technicians are also certified to work on all Workhorse equipment. So if your machine is down, you can expect to be back up and running in a matter of a couple days, if not a couple hours. All Workhorse presses as well as the Powerhouse II dryers run an interface called WorkhorseOS. WorkhorseOS has a function that allows technicians to remotely log in to your machine and pinpoint the issue you may be having, and if possible recommend immediate remedies.
While you may have had a great workflow with your manual setup, automatic presses are significantly faster than manual presses. There are a number of things to consider upgrading when you move up to an auto.
When operating an automatic press, the dryer you pair with it could hold up your production. Be sure that the dryer you have can keep up with the maximum output your press can achieve. While the Workhorse Powerhouse II 3009 could keep up with a Freedom Express running plastisol (400/hour), what if you decide to run your manual presses down the same belt? What if you get a large water based order? The 5409 (54”x9’ belt, 900+ plastisol, 300+ waterbase/hour) would be able to keep up better with these variables than a smaller dryer.
If you find that you are running jobs faster than your screen room can output screens, it might be time to look into an LED exposure unit, or an exposure unit that can handle two screens at once. The Lumitron LED exposure unit from Workhorse can expose screens in as little as 3 seconds, which blows fluorescent units out of the water as far as productivity goes. Maybe it’s time for a dip tank too.
Maybe you want to maximize production on your press. While the Flashback maximizes the number of heads you can use on your press by not taking up a print head, you are also decreasing your production. This unit works by sliding between the screen and the platen when the machine tables down. While this will slow down production a little bit, it means that when you buy a six-color Freedom Express, you are going to be able to use all six colors.
The Workhorse Plug-n-Go Quartz flash takes up a head but will significantly increase production. It is worth noting that in general, the quartz flash unit should take up two heads. After you print, you will flash and then the following station should be kept for cooldown, or for a flattening screen like the Action Roller Squeegee. Both the Flashback and the Quartz options have their benefits, so be sure to consider which is more important for your operation – colors or production.
Power & Air
While your manual press probably uses a 110 outlet for a flash and then 220 for the dryer, an automatic press is almost certainly going to require more power. While the Freedom Express only requires 110; the Flashback, an air compressor, and your dryer will require a bit of juice. Depending on how you decide to set up, your power requirements will change – ask an SPSI sales representative for the power and air requirements for the equipment you’re selecting.
As you can tell, the automatic press is just a part of your investment. It is important to consider all the costs involved in your purchase. Of course the press and flash will cost money, but how much is an air compressor and chiller? Do you need a dryer? A new exposure unit? Flash? Is your business growing at such a clip that you might want to invest up in some of these areas so you don’t have to upgrade again when it’s time to get another press?
Juggling all these factors is important, especially if you are looking at many machines. But when you do, be sure you’re comparing apples to apples. While that all-electric press may look nice, what is the price? How much electricity do you need to run it? Do you need to hire an electrician to get more power to your facility? Who is going to service it if it goes down, and how quickly can you get replacement parts? How does this equation change if you decide to add a second automatic press? It is always worth your while to consider what you will need when you scale up.
Thinking on it
This is not meant to scare you away from an automatic press. It is important that you don’t find yourself surprised by any of the costs that may come up with a press purchase, and you will find that even when considering all the associated costs you will still come out ahead very quickly.