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Posted on 31st May 2012 @ 1:05 PM
Earn better ROI From welding banners instead of taping
With just 35 banners a week you will save significant time and money with a Solent Miller Weldmaster T3.
By Josh Marten – Global Imaging
Banners can be the lifeblood of a sign shop and a healthy banner business can keep printers busy and fill in the gaps between the big, exciting jobs. But as a commoditized product, banner profits may be compressed and therefore efficiencies must be maximized so they can be turned around as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
Shops with a decent volume of banner business, whether it is retail, commercial, municipal (street event) or real estate, know that the trick to making banner business profitable is to spend as little time on them as possible and be able to get them out the door while reducing your costs.
I will walk you through how a Solent / Miller Weldmaster T3 banner welder can save you time and money over using the “cheaper option” of banner tape. As with any Return on Investment investigation, we are required to throw out a lot of numbers. Not a fan of numbers calculations? Scroll to second to last paragraph…
Taping is accepted as a solid entry-level method for inexpensively finishing banners. It takes a steady hand, room to lay your material out, and is a multi step process. Observe these instructions from a common tape supplier: “Apply tape to back side of banner, remove protective liner to expose adhesive, fold tape over and use squeegee to secure.” Repeat for as many banners as you’d like. However, this method has intrinsic drawbacks in that rolling up the finished banner can cause problems and taping is not a long term outdoor solution.
Welding with a T3 is very quick, at up to 30 linear feet per minute (you decide how fast you want to go.) It guides the banner material into the welding head and maintains a consistently sized hem, and uses no consumables. Flat hems, pole pockets, and rope in hems are all easily done, and switching between them takes seconds. A welded seam is very even, flat, has no color variation from the banner, and will last as long or longer than the banner itself. With a total ‘on the road’ cost approaching £11,424, the Solent / Miller Weldmaster T3 may be perceived ‘top of the range’ for a smaller shop. Sounds expensive? Lets take a look…
Banner tape comes in varying brands, roll sizes and widths. On my recent investigation I found a 50 meter roll of 25mm tape at a cost of £6.44 per roll (25+ orders). The price per linear meter works out to 13p. For a standard 1m x 3m banner the cost of tape comes to £1.04. The average time to finish a 1m x 3m banner? A recent polling of a few shops reported 5-7 minutes as an average.
The T3 is not a cheap machine in any sense of the word. With shipping, setup and training by a factory technician (recommended if you’ve never owned one) the cost will be nearly £11.5K. It may at first seem a luxury for a small to medium sized shop. But like a laminator, it’s a piece of equipment that may outlast the time you own your shop if properly maintained. And it is fast, at up to 30 linear feet per minute welding speed. It’s reasonable for a new user to be able to finish a 1m x 3m banner in around a minute. A T3 will cost roughly £8.78 per working day over a 5 year period. (Assuming you don’t want to work weekends finishing banners…)
Lets look at this from a 7 banner per day scenario:
Could you use an extra month of labour time per year?
In order for a welder to be a viable option for small to medium sized shops, we should keep the workload small to start with. We will focus on two aspects of banner production cost – consumable cost of tape and time / labour cost.
Materials / purchase cost:
Tape – 7 @ £1.04 each = £7.28 / T3 Welder – 7 banners per day = £8.78 (cost per day)
Now, let’s add labour into it. Lets assume an average of £8 per hour for labour.
- Tape: 5 minutes per banner @ £0.13pm x 7 = 35 min @ £4.55
- T3: Assuming 1 minute per banner @ £0.13pm = 7 min @ £0.91
Totals: Tape £11.83 / day
T3 Welder £9.69 / day
21 minutes and £2.14 per day savings may not seem like much, until we look at a weekly, monthly and yearly savings:
- 105 minutes and £10.70 per week
- 7.5 hours and £44.94 per month
= 12 days and £539.28 per year production cost savings using a T3 welder instead of banner tape for 7 banners per day.
At 10 banners per day, the savings are staggering:
Materials / purchase cost:
Tape 10 @ £1.04 each = £10.40 / T3 Welder = £8.78
=£1.62 per day materials cost savings using the T3
-Tape: 10 Banners: 50 minutes @ £6.50
-T3: 10 @ 10 minutes = £1.30
= 40 minutes time/ labour difference = £5.20
Daily materials and labour totals:
Tape - £16.90 / T3 - £10.08
= £6.82 daily cost savings using the T3.
3 hours 20 minutes and £34.10 per week,
14 hours and £143.22 per month,
168 hours labour (21 days, almost a month) and £1,718.64 per year production cost savings of using a T3 welder instead of banner tape for 10 banners per day.
So, I ask you, does a one time investment in a Solent / Miller Weldmaster T3 Welder still seem like a luxury compared to 5 minutes and £1.69 per banner in tape? And, that’s without any capital tax considerations
Optional background info:
Methods for hemming
For strength, longevity and a nice professional look, hemming banners is a regular practice that is generally executed by one of three methods: banner tape, sewing, or welding. Breaking down the pros and cons of each method will provide insight as to which may be the best for you:
-Banner tape is the entry-level technique that requires a multi-step application process. For example, take this instruction from a banner tape manufacturer: “Apply tape to back side of banner, remove protective liner to expose adhesive, fold tape over and use squeegee to secure.” This is a three-step process using a very high-tack aggressive adhesive that requires a steady hand and attention and is typically a slow process. If you rush it, it comes out sloppy. Lets assign an average time to tape a 1m x 3m banner at 5 minutes, provided nothing goes wrong. You also have to consider that despite the low entry cost, banner tape is a consumable, subject to supply on hand and re-ordering, and the more you do, the more you spend.
-Sewing has long been an accepted and preferred method of hemming. It can be fast, it usually lasts a long time, and looks good if done right. But it is not without it’s challenges: First, you have to know how to run a sewing machine – this is not typically a hard thing when it’s set up, but is a bit of a dying art. Then there is the consumables and setup factor – needles break and need to be replaced – this can take time in a middle of a job. Thread is obviously a consumable and it takes time to fill the bobbins. Next, are you colour matching to your banner? For POP and close viewed items, black thread on white and vise versa may be perceived as the sign shop equivalent of a brown belt with black shoes - a sloppy appearance.
-Welding, is a process of using heat, precisely controlled, to soften the inside surfaces of a seam to a melting point and applying pressure in line to seal the edge permanently, at speed. No consumables are required unless you want to charge more for a reinforcing webbing to be welding into the seam. If a media is properly welded – the seam will be as strong or stronger than the material itself. There are a few different technologies for this, including hot wedge, impulse heat bar, and hot air depending on your applications.