Benchmark Print & Embroidery: Exile Spyder II CTS and V-Lux Upright Exposure Cabinet

Manjit Rana, production manager

Tell us a bit about your business

Benchmark was established in April this year, and became operational in late May, early June. The combined experience of the staff within this business is a couple of hundred years from senior management all the way down to shop floor staff. We took on a 10,000 sq ft plant that needed to be fully put back together. Everything is new, and I mean everything – even the kettle. We have new MHMs, new dryers, new Tajimas… We‘re very proud as to where we‘ve taken the business in such a short period of time. We generally do promotional work and trade-to-trade, such as gift houses and retail – we don‘t work with end users.

What pre-press equipment have you bought, and why did you buy it?

We bought the Spyder II and the V-Lux Exposure Unit from Exile. I have a lot of history with Mark [Evans, managing director] from Exile and knew it would be beneficial when we were putting this plant together to work with Exile again and see if they had brought anything new to the market. It‘s paid dividends with the V-Lux. We knew if we invested in the right technology and automated everything, it would help with how we perform as a unit and what we produce.

Why did you choose these machines? 

The Spyder I had experienced previously and what I found was that you always got that same set quality no matter whether you are producing 10 screens a day or if you are producing 50 to 100 screens a day, as we currently do. The level of service and quality and back-up support that you get from Exile is phenomenal. It‘s not just a sale, it‘s more working alongside you and helping you. I think that‘s a big, big difference. 

When we looked at the V-Lux, the floor space that it takes is next to nothing, and it‘s just so consistent and that‘s what you want. It makes a big difference because it‘s all about your times and your efficiency. When you‘re producing 50, maybe 100 screens a day, they all add up.

What are their main advantages? 

The Spyder automatically locks in with our MHM screen presses. It makes it all uniform – we literally lock the screen into the Spyder, we process the screens, we dry them, we get them ready, we coat them and all the way along they just fit in place. You want true registration and you get that consistently. The days of watching a printer stand there with a piece of film, trying to set a 10-colour machine up, are gone. The chances of him putting those 10 pieces of film in exactly the same place by eye are near impossible. If we get the full set-up ready and right for the guys on the shop floor, at the end of the day that makes us more productive and more ecient. That‘s what the Spyder and the V-Lux give us. if you‘re setting up a 10-colour job manually, it could take somebody, let‘s say, 30 to 35 minutes to set 10 screens up. We can do that same process quite comfortably in no more than 15 minutes.

Is there anything you‘d like to see in an upgrade or don‘t like about the equipment? 

We‘re very, very content with the set-up and the way things work at this moment in time. I think the only downside would probably be how long it can take the Spyder to warm up – we have it set on an auto-timer so it comes on an hour before the production staff are due in. The V-Lux is just so efficient though. Literally, you turn on a switch and you‘re ready to go. I think they‘ve got it spot on, in my opinion.

Are they both quite easy to use? 

Very. With the V-Lux you choose your setting, press a button then 10, 20 seconds later you have a screen that‘s exposed and ready to be washed out. It‘s plug in and play. We have only one person in our screen room and he does it all very efficiently.

It makes us more productive and more efficient

What would be your advice to others thinking of a CTS machine or exposure unit? 

My advice would be the benefits and efficiencies far outweigh any negatives that somebody might have about the expense. It allows you to leave one person to control the screen room quite comfortably and gives you the opportunity to be able to really push on and be ahead of the game. From our perspective, the equipment really pays for itself in efficiency.