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Adnormous Graphics specializes in jobs which other production houses might consider too tricky, too unique, or have the possibility of being too time consuming. Yet, those are just the kind of creative challenges that we really enjoy sinking our teeth into. Here are some samples of the types of projects we regularly design, print, and install:
Hendrix Experience Tour Bus Wraps: THE TIME CRUNCH, AND DEADLINE NIGHTMARE.
Star Coaches once again selected Adnormous.com to provide the high profile wraps for the two Hendrix Experience Tour Buses, which are 2009 Prevost H3-45 VIP coaches. The art was highly detailed and very specific as to the colors, placement, and most importantly the registration accuracy. So, this job seemed to be a typical bus wrap...until you factor in some of the issues that Adnormous was faced with in order to print and install these wraps.
Adnormous was asked by the Hendrix Experience Tour director, just before the deadline, "can you do miracles?" My typical response to something like that would be to inform them of the rush charge for missing the deadline. Yet, this is one of our best customers...and they are in a tough spot. And this time, the problem holding us back wasn't under anyone's control. So, "yes, miracles are on the menu; what will it be? Just remember you don't get to order this item without paying for it." They agreed.
After hearing the request...I, a person whom talks more than a politician looking for votes during an election year, couldn't find the words for a response. So, there were a few "hmmmmm"..."oh man"..."you're serious aren't you"...and some more colorful words from both sides in a friendly manor. A few laughs, but once the original shock passed: Adnormous owner and I looked at everyone and said..."we know bus wraps better than anyone, we're their only shot...let's help our customer out of this jam", follow quickly by "don't you even think to ask us to do this again, cool?" Everyone agreed...
This seems like a good time to explain how long bus wraps take, and what goes into them. Typically, it takes 20 hours to print one full bus wrap at 1440 dpi...and it takes 32 total man hours to professionally install a full bus wrap, on a 45 foot bus. So to wrap two of them...you can double that to roughly 40 print hours, and 64 man hours to install.
Let's just skip the stories about all the waiting, nerves frying, dozens of calls an hour to and from our customers, hundreds of emails, and the fact that the tour is scheduled to leave on Friday at 8pm...and it is Weds at 5PM when we are finally given what was needed to begin the printing of the first bus. FOUR DAYS AND 17 HOURS AFTER THE DEADLINE WE GAVE THEM...and only 53 hours til the bus HAS to leave...and to the winner go the spoils so to speak.
At this point most shops would have just said...it can't happen. And they're right, if you don't try...it will never happen. We, on the other hand have rallied all the troops for this one. Our plan was a slight deviation from the well known "just-in-time" inventory management system.
When printing a typical bus wrap...we usually print the whole wrap, let it naturally air out, then laminate all the panels, then trim them all out. That is the most efficient way to save man hours in the production process. This time however, everything came into play...Like...which panels needed to be printed, and in what order. There are 26 panels that are 12 feet tall and 51 inches wide on each bus (2652 sqft of vinyl). The panels print in just over 41 minutes each, and can take anywhere from 11 minutes all the way up to 2 hours to install depending on the location the panel is on the bus.
We decided to print the hardest panels to install first...to prevent the installers from having to wait for the printers. This was the key to victory, no wasted time. After 2 minutes of talking about each of the 26 panels...it was decided by everyone in the room, the two panels on the back of bus, and the two panels on the front of the bus would without a doubt require the most time for install. Then after those four panels, we would print the side panel that was furthest to the back...swapping sides for each panel so we can have installers on both sides of the bus at the same time. Working their way to the front, but wait...WE REALIZE THIS CREATES A HUGE PROBLEM:
How is Adnormous going to match up the side graphics to the front panels when we get there? They have contiguous art and text that has to be dead on (within 1/32 of an inch in all four directions)...and it's 45 feet from our starting point, and lots of things shift and stretch just a tiny bit during install, what are we to do? We can't change the artwork bc we don't have time. It's something that without the printed panels there to layout and look over...is next to impossible. But, that isn't going to stop us.
So, our production process of airing out the panels for 24 hours can't happen, but they have to air out. We now used a 2 minute burst from a dozen 24 inch heavy industrial fans in the clean room (no dust) where we can de-gas the prints while keeping them perfectly clean, then off to lamination. Then a quick trim job and art check. Now, our profession installers were going to prove their worth...this process was repeated almost every 41 minutes for 20 hours...non-stop. After 20 hours of this process, the production was done, and half the bus was installed, but it was the hardest panels first...so the second half of the bus went like a warm knife through butter; in only 7 hours. Now, the way we did it will not be shared for it's now an emergency option for us to help customers in a pinch. But let's get back to hour 26, the point when things really got interesting.
Hour 26, right about 7:00pm on Thursday February 25th, 2010; was when we were getting close enough to the last panel that we would finally find out if two installers at the same time on opposite sides of the bus, by following the same rules and guidelines I proposed, could get this "hole in one" shot? And, better yet...WERE MY CALCULATIONS RIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE??? There is no time to reprint, or fix, or stretch, or ANY THING...we just had to be right. With gleaming pride and anticipation, I watched, though tired eyes, as the driver's side matched up perfectly...and then again on the passengers side about 5 minutes later. Everyone's attitude went from serious work demeanor, to excited happy and the weight of the world felt like it had been lifted. I specifically took a picture with my cell phone, of the bus right before they were to put up the last panel on the driver's side, it's in the gallery on the right side of this page.
about 3 minutes into hour 27...we stop our celebrating and return our focus to repeating the process again. The printer hasn't stopped, so many panels are ready for installation. But, everyone expect the printer and me, will get some much needed rest. Someone has to watch it, and this is my customer. So, here I sit, looking forward to the same challenge tomorrow. All Adnormous employees on this project will be back here at 4am...and now that we've done it once...I wonder how long it will take to do it again. Both buses must be the exact same, and we will still install it the same way. I will let you know in tomorrow's blog.
To OUR INSTALLERS, everyone in production, Star Coaches, The Hendrix Experience Tour:: Adnormous Graphics, "we print BIG" http://www.adnormous.com