Above: (l-r) Omnigraphics Chief Operations Officer Gerard Mudford and CEO David Walton look forward to the additional capacity and growth potential that the FUJIFILM Acuity Ultra R2 brings
In September 2022, David Walton bought out Omnigraphics and MMT Print from outdoor giant QMS Media and took on the role of CEO of both companies. In this Q&A with Colleen Bate he discusses his latest acquisition – a brand new FUJIFILM Acuity Ultra R2, and shares the companies′ history, evolution, and standout projects, as well as his vision for the future.
Q. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO PURCHASE THE FUJIFILM ACUITY ULTRA R2?
The decision to purchase the Acuity Ultra R2 was an easy one, we needed burst capacity to help with our roll-to-roll banner and billboard printing. The Ultra R2 ticked all the boxes, high-speed printing quality and has a robust chassis which we can put through its paces. The team at FUJIFILM Australia have been accommodating with all our requests and have been flexible, understanding the position our businesses are in due to the recent change of ownership.
The installation has run smoothly, given the machine is the first in the world to be installed in the dual CMYK format with the low energy LED it did require some special assistance from the technical team in the UK. FUJIFILM Australia managed these seamlessly and the communication was fantastic. The machine allows us to print high quality banners and billboards at speeds we haven’t seen before at Omnigraphics, currently boasting a headline speed of up to 402 sqm per hour. It more than doubles our capacity and allows us to have redundancy, improve our speed to market and ensure quality results for our customers.
The Acuity Ultra R2 sits well in our fleet of printers, complementing the Inca X3HS with its quality and speed and allowing us to free up our VuTek 5R+ for some of the more complex lower speed printing requirements. I’m sure our customers will be pleased with the quality reproductions we can produce off this piece of equipment. The next step will be looking to duplicate this technology at MMT Print in 2024.
Q. HOW HAS OMNIGRAPHICS EVOLVED OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS, AND MORE RECENTLY SINCE YOU TOOK OVER THE REINS?
Omnigraphics and MMT Print have both evolved over the past 20 years. Gone are are the days of premium pricing on billboards and it’s become crucial to gain volume and operate efficiently to be competitive in an ever-tightening market. Out of home printing used to make up 90 per cent of our business, in more recent years this only makes up about 50 per cent of our business. Other segments we have grown into include event signage, sports signage, retail markets and long- term signage.
We have over 70 staff nationally with around 35 at each location. Staffing numbers have remained stable in the past five to 10 years, however we have plans to grow our teams at both sites over the next 12 to 18 months as we hit our strides in some new market segments. We continue to be a destination employer for the hearing-impaired community in Melbourne currently boasting nine incredible dedicated and skilled hearing- impaired staff at Omnigraphics.
Both factories operate both roll-to-roll and flatbed. Equipment housed at the Omnigraphics facility includes the Fuji Acuity Ultra 2 HS, Fuji Inca Onset X3 HS, EFI VuTek 5R+, Epson Surecolour 80600 (x2), HP Latex 800, Oki Seiko M64s Colour painter (x3), and a Kongsberg C64 Cutting table.
The MMT Print stable of equipment comprises the FUJIFILM Acuity Prime L, FUJIFILM Acuity Prime 30, EFI VuTek 5R+, FUJIFILM UV Star, HP L360 x 2, Mimaki JV300 – 160 (x4) and Kongsberg Cutting tables (x2).
Q. CAN YOU PROVIDE SAMPLES OF SOME STANDOUT PROJECTS THAT YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
We work regularly on many exciting projects. This year the highlight would have to be the Diablo IV billboard we produced for Acitivision in conjunction with Avenue C, QMS and Southern USI.
The project included hand painting specialty paints to create a UV Blacklight effect, which created a unique day/night effect. The production won the OMA’s 2nd Quarter Grand Prix Award and the Innovation in Out of Home Award. The 40 x 10 billboard was a mammoth challenge to bring together, logistically managing the size while needing to be fine and accurate with our hand painting. The outcome was fantastic, and the OMA awards were a reflection on our team and the collaboration efforts from all parties involved.
For over five years we have also produced the Arts Trams for Yarra Trams – each year they showcase local artists’ works in the form of full tram wraps. We have the pleasure of printing these beautiful pieces each year and admiring them as they travel around the Melbourne tram network over the following 12 months.
Q. WHAT ARE YOUR VISIONS AND PRIORITIES FOR OMNIGRAPHICS AND MMT PRINT INTO THE FUTURE?
Omnigraphics and MMT Print will concentrate heavily on sustainable printing solutions in the coming years. We want to be able to offer printing that doesn’t affect our planet through landfill avoidance, recycling and repurposing as much of our printed products as we can.
Developing new technologies and partnerships to work towards this goal is at the forefront of our business plan.
We aim to expand further in retail markets and ensure we can take our businesses to the next level with the right investment in equipment and investing in people with the right skill sets to get us there.
This article is published in ProPrint’s December 2023 issue.
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