- CV Labels needed accurate job costs
- CV lacked the ability to track material inventory
- The company had outgrown its manual estimating and record-keeping system
- The company had suffered a painful and costly time working with a software company to create a bespoke program
- Managing stock products was complex
- Better service for customers and less paperwork
- The ability to accurately and consistently quote flexo jobs
- Roll tracking system has reduced material inventory and saves time in purchasing
- Stock products now managed with ease despite customer complexities
CV Labels, in Irvine, Scotland, opened in 1989 as a two-man company. In 1997, a major expansion added some £400,000 in equipment, and today the company has grown to 16 employees, with sales in the neighborhood of £1 million. The company operates two flexographic presses, producing specialized labels primarily for the medical, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and electronics markets, as well as food and drink. The company supplies thermal ribbons and various printers (including maintenance) to its broad customer base. According to Managing Director Bob Veitch—who is the ‘V’ in CV Labels—the company has technical capabilities which readily permit solving customers’ label problems.
An example of their design and manufacturing capability is the work CV Labels did for Bruichladdich Distillery, an award-winning, privately owned Scottish distillery on the remote Atlantic Isle of Islay. Bruichladdich Distillery is the only distillery which distills, bottles, and packages entirely in Islay. CV Labels worked closely with the distiller to design and print the cold foil labels used on their bottles, and the producer of sophisticated, multilayered whisky was impressed not only with the quality of the labels, but with the speed of delivery to the isolated distillery.
Through the years, as CV Labels grew, the need for accurate job costs and the ability to track material became apparent. The company began to outgrow its manual estimating and recordkeeping, and sought to automate the business with a computer-based system. According to Veitch, “We tried to have a software house do a bespoke system for us, but the programmer didn’t understand the label business. The system they wrote had lots of software problems. It didn’t run properly, and it didn’t fit our business.” Just when Veitch despaired of ever getting a software system implemented, he discovered Label Traxx, an American-developed system made specifically for label converters and flexographic printers.
Label Traxx was just being introduced in the UK at the time, so Veitch was justifiably concerned about being among the first users of a software package supported from another continent. But Label Traxx had just opened a UK office which promised local support, so CV Labels decided to take the leap. Asked about issues with Label Traxx support and being thousands of miles away from the developers, Veitch said: “Product support has been very good, both from the UK office and from the US. The technicians in Wisconsin can log on and take over our system, and then show our people how to use it. We were concerned at first about the time differential between Scotland and the US, but we now take the mornings to sort out any difficulties and then call the States in the afternoon if we need help. More often than not, the problem was not as severe as we thought.
Scotsmen also have a reputation for being thrifty, so when Veitch investigated Label Traxx he looked carefully at things like initial cost, training expenses, and return on investment. But having gone down the road of trying to develop a custom software package that would do the job, he found that the Label Traxx developers had already addressed most of the issues that baffled his hired software writers. After his evaluation, Veitch chose to begin with just the Label Traxx Estimating, Order Processing, and Stock Product modules, knowing that he could add all or any of the remaining eight modules at any time.
“Using the Label Traxx Estimating system necessitated changing the way quotations were presented to the customer by our sales department,” said Veitch. “It took a bit of negotiation between the estimators and the sales personnel to determine a new system which was satisfactory to both, but now the customer gets better service and a lot less paperwork is involved in our plant. Today it is simple to Email quotations to the customer. We could do that before, but it was very involved and it was too easy to make errors in the process.”
But Veitch saves his most favorable comments about Label Traxx for the Stock Products module, saying, “Our customers own roll stock, thermal ribbons, and the like, which we stock and ship as required. Now, with the new system, we can see all the stock items in one database, very quickly. But the real plus is that we can be confident that the right stock product is shipping, and that we know our costs. This is especially important because some stock products are priced differently to different customers because of the volumes they buy. Label Traxx lets us sort all this out easily, quickly and accurately. As a result, we have a much better grasp of our costs.”
Asked about the problems he had implementing Label Traxx, Veitch observed: “Implementing a new system is always painful and somewhat costly. At first, our employees hated giving up their trail of paper on every job. But Label Traxx works. People, and their reluctance to change the way they work, are the real problem, but our staff have embraced Label Traxx with open minds.”
CV Labels are well on the way with the new software installation. The company left their original quality control and financial systems in place, despite the fact that Label Traxx offers such modules. “The next step,” says Veitch “is to get more and better Managing Director level reports. We need better data on machine utilization, and we know that Label Traxx can provide it.”