Onda Grafe purchased Sistrade. The project implementation begins with Estimating Module, including Invoicing and Delivery Notes; this module is one of the first needs of Onda Grafe. The implementation of ERP allowed Onda Grafe to have a very detailed management control in various areas of the company.
Onda Grafe is a printing and packaging industry company that performs all kinds of commercial work, including brochures, catalogues, booklets, etc.
SISTRADE - Software Consulting S.A. is a company specialized in providing MIS|ERP software for Printing and Packaging Industry, where Sistrade is the primary tool available. Sistrade is a specific MIS|ERP for this industry which is based on the latest information technologies, such as access via Internet Browser and use of Microsoft SQL Server. It has features from estimating to the control and industrial supervision through the electronic commerce and supply management.
INTERVIEW ONDA GRAFE- Revista IG - Intergráficas [PDF Version]
OUR STRATEGY REVOLVES AROUND DIVERSIFICATION
"Sistrade has always listened to us and that is an excellent quality that the company because it bets on improvements that are suggested by the clients".
Bruno Moluras is one of the most recognized national graphic entrepreneurs and also one with the most extensive know-how in the printing industry. In an informmal conversation, he talks about how Onda Grafe has grown and the determining factors of a company that offers a wide range of printing services.
ONDA GRAFE HAS BEEN IN THE MARKET FOR OVER 38 YEARS. WHAT HAS CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS THAT ALLOWED THE COMPANY TO GROW AND STREAMLINE ITS PROCESSES?
There are several factors, such as being one of the first printing companies to work with management software, in this case, by SISTRADE. We had a rudimentary program and, at a certain point, I thought it was important to improve the entire process, so we sought a solution. During a meeting with Sousa Ribeiro, SISTRADE’s CEO, and when we moved to these facilities, we started a work that can be called a partnership. At the time, the software was still very basic, but I believe our involvement directly contributed to its success because we helped implement variables like waste and other items that SISTRADE had limited knowledge about.
We grew together. SISTRADE learned from us and always listened to us and other clients, and I think that's an excellent quality the company has, as it invests in improvements suggested by its customers.
HAS THERE BEEN ANY SUGGESTION FROM YOUR SIDE THAT HAS BEEN PARTICULARLY RELEVANT TO WHAT SISTRADE'S SOFTWARE OFFERS TODAY?
There is a modification that will be included in an upcoming version, which was suggested by us about five years ago. It involves extrapolating quantities for large format printing, similar to what exists for offset printing. When we make an offset budget for 1000 brochures, if we want different quantities, the process adjusts and calculates accordingly to accommodate different print runs. However, in large format digital printing, the process is less industrialized, making it less straightforward, and the management is different.
ESTIMATION IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR A COMPANY LIKE ONDA GRAFE...
Yes, the more estimates we provide, the higher the chances of winning projects. However, internally, I believe the estimating process needs to be faster because we estimate the same type of work every day, but we always have to enter different variables. In a web-to-print platform, there is standardization of papers, weights, and quantities. Here, we don't have that limitation because we have a wide range of options. Onda Grafe has six people working in the estimating department, and that says a lot about the importance of this area. SISTRADE adjusts its tools to the companies' needs according to the feedback given by graphic professionals.
HOW DOES THE LARGE FORMAT PRINTING AREA WORK?
The large format printing segment has a technology that is here to stay but is still poorly automated. However, we all know that digital printing in large formats will continue to grow. This area is mostly composed of small companies that work “in their own way” and don't require extensive automation. Perhaps that's why they don't feel a strong need to look for software that improves their processes.
REGARDING THE PACKAGING AREA, HOW DO YOU EVALUATE THE FUNCTIONING OF THIS MODULE?
I believe the program is very well designed for packaging estimating, especially for sizable companies that handle high print runs. Sistrade has a perfect production model that interacts with templates and, from the software, assembles the imposition with excellent quality.
In our case, we do a lot of packaging, but many of our projects are unique. Therefore, this tool is excessive for Onda Grafe because, in most cases, we don't need to know the grain direction, unless we are producing 3 million copies, because if I'm folding at 100 000 pieces per hour and the fiber is not in the correct direction, the machine will jam. At Onda Grafe, when producing 3 000 copies, I close the boxes by hand or use a machine that closes at 10 000 per hour, and if I place a sample in the opposite direction of the fiber, I can save up to 200 sheets, and that is important.
WHAT IS ONDA GRAFE DOING TO HAVE AN INDUSTRY 4.0 SYSTEM?
The internal process is practically all digitalized, although if we go back 10 years, we can see the functioning of printing companies hasn't changed that much. Of course, our printing company has invested a lot in technology and automation. Today, the cutters are linked in a network and automatically available in the milling machine. This is just an example of an improvement, a good evolution.
Another recent example I can highlight is the acquisition of a large format digital printing machine, a UV gel Colorado from Canon, which is super-fast and prints jobs that come out dry, and that is very good. Previously, the rolls had to be opened because it was eco-solvent, and it needed to catch air...
HOW MANY MODULES OF SISTRADE'S SOFTWARE DO YOU WORK WITH?
We work with almost all modules of SISTRADE's software. The truth is that we have everything integrated, and that is a major advantage. The benefit is that we open a job and the client receives the invoice immediately. Just that alone justifies everything. The estimating, stock management and purchasing work very well, as well as the production module. The interconnection of modules, such as estimating with planning, job opening, time tracking, allows all salespeople to have access to production, knowing the status of each job, in which stage it is and when it will be delivered, without needing to question production.
Soon, we will introduce a feature in one of the modules that allows the client to sign on a tablet or phone when the job arrives, and a message will be generated automatically for the salesperson with all the details, so they can inform the client that the job has been delivered. We will also introduce a new tool, the “employee portal”, which allows the connection between employees and the human resources department to schedule vacations, record overtime hours, request vouchers, justify absences...
WHAT ARE THE MOST RECENT INVESTMENTS MADE BY ONDA GRAFE?
Six months ago, we purchased a UV gel Colorado and an iEcho. We also just bought two Mimaki machines that are on their way. We are investing more in the large format area because there has been a constant growth trend compared to offset printing, except for peaks of large projects where billing shoots up. As we have different cost centers, we know every year we grow in overall revenue, but within that, digital printing grows more when compared to offset. Five years ago, 10% of our revenue came from large format digital printing, and currently we are close to 30%, with a tendency to grow.
TODAY EQUIPMENT HAS IMPROVED IN QUALITY AND SPEED. WHAT DO YOUR CUSTOMERS DEMAND THE MOST?
All customers demand speed, but not all prioritize quality. What they all demand is price. At Onda Grafe, we have a digital large-format printing section that focus on both speed and quality because price is not yet our strong point. We want to sell more and compete in the "price wars" with top companies, but we haven't achieved that yet. The truth is, we have been growing steadily, but we can't expand much further due to space limitations. We are awaiting the licensing approval for a parcel of land we bought next door. Once we have more space, our plan is to grow. There are two or three machines that we would like to have if we have the space and investment capacity.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE MARKET IN THIS YEAR 2023?
The first quarter we know we closed pretty much in line with the previous year. There was some concern about this year 2023, but right in January, we realized it wouldn't be so challenging.
At Onda Grafe, we do our own market. We have experienced numerous crises, yet internally, we have not felt significant fluctuations. Fortunately, we have consistently achieved double-digit growth. I attribute this to the fact that we distribute our production across different types of work.
If packaging is in high demand, we offer that service, if small-format digital is growing, we can also provide it. Therefore, we have never experienced a major impact resulting from crises. If one area is not performing well, we invest in another. Despite the less favorable expectations for this year, the reality is showing the opposite, as we expect to grow between 7 and 12 percent by the end of this year. There are times when we invest more and times when we don't need to invest as much. When we invested in the eight-color Ryobi and Indigo, we made an investment of over one million euros, but it did not have a negative impact on our results. At Onda Grafe, we are constantly adapting and our strategy relies heavily on diversification.
HOW IS YOUR CUSTOMER PORTFOLIO COMPOSED?
We have many clients, which allows for a risk distribution. Our best clients do not have a significant share and none of them have more than 3 or 4 percent. This means there are two sectors within our company that struggle, which are estimating and the commercial area. Each of our sales representatives manages more than 100 clients. There is a volume of work that ultimately gets distributed and that is what gives us stability.
Life is not only about business, and it's common for people with companies of some size to sacrifice their personal lives for the sake of the company. Managing Onda Grafe is not easy, but we all can have weekends and disconnect from work, and even if someone is absent, the company continues to function. That is our great achievement! We have a company with many years in the market, which has always been financially sound, but our goal is not to double in size. What we really want is to pay our employees more, evolve and keep up with market trends.