Part 4: Project Management, Packing, and Shipping
In our previous posts, we reviewed important aspects of tensioned fabric frames, fabric covers, graphics and printing, lighting, and assembly drawings. In this post we conclude with our review of key details relating to project management, packing and shipping.
The Art of Managing Production of a Tensioned Fabric Sign
You want to have a Project Manager (PM) who can guide your project through the many stages of production, ensure you get the results you expect, and make the whole experience as pleasurable and painless as possible. The PM who communicates early and at important decision points, will help you navigate the complex production process, and will assure that things turn out well. A PM who does not return calls promptly, or does not manage project details carefully, will only add unnecessary stress to an already challenging production process.
During production of your sign, your PM should communicate with you regarding these important factors:
- The Devil is in the Details – Since signs can be made in countless different designs, working with an experienced PM is critical to getting good results. Your PM will help to avoid common pitfalls and help you to get the best possible outcome. They are the one who understands your goals and where attention needs to be focused.
- Approvals – During sign design, development, and fabrication, there are a few key steps that should receive your review and approval, before the next stage of production is performed. Your PM will insist that you review and approve the key design decisions that go into designing your sign. As appropriate, you will receive the following drawings for your approval:
- Preliminary Frame Drawing – Insist that you see drawings that define exactly how your sign will look and the materials with which it will be produced. Preliminary frame drawings show a CAD model of the sign, with dimensions and call out defining materials and construction details. When lighting is involved, a lighting layout will show the type of light fixtures and where they will be located. Upon receipt of your approval of the preliminary drawings, final Frame Fabrication Drawings are produced, and production can commence.
- Graphics Layout – This drawing shows exactly how the graphics will be produced, including size, placement, any match-color call outs, and other important information. This drawing should also be reviewed and the details approved by the customer before moving to production. On some occasions, certain projects may also warrant preliminary cover drawings.
The Art of Packing, Shipping, and Post-Project Follow-up
Even the most expensive trade show sign is worthless if it shows up just one day late for a show. Make sure your sign arrives at the correct location on the correct day, and save yourself much aggravation.
- Assembled Sign Photos – Does your vendor provide photographs of your sign fully assembled, illuminated and hanging? If they don’t, how confident are you that things will look flawless at the show? It is always better to verify that the sign looks perfect before it has left the fabrication facility. Insist on photos of your sign, to review and approve results before the sign ships.
- Packaging – How well are the components of your sign organized within the shipping container? Are tubes for one frame element separated from those for others? Is the fabric cover packed in both a water-proof plastic bag and a protective reusable shipping bag? Is your shipping box strong enough to last for multiple shows? Good packaging is not expensive but it can save you a small fortune if it prevents something from getting wet or damaged and needing to be replaced in a rush.
- Shipping – Shipping might seem a simple and straight-forward process. However, like all other production steps, if it’s done well, no one notices. If it’s executed poorly, all your hard work can come crashing down. Confirm the destination address and contact info, shipping dates, shipping methods and shipper. Double-check these details are correct, and reconfirm before shipping—everyone will rest a bit easier.
- Tracking – Does your vendor stay with the project until it has safely arrived, or do they just send it off and forget about it? You want a vendor who understands that the project is not finished until the sign has safely arrived, been properly installed, and you are completely satisfied.
- Follow-Up – Now that the sign has been successfully installed and is hanging at its first show, does your vendor make sure that you are happy with the results? Work with a vendor who understands that producing the sign is only the first step in a long-term relationship. You will need them to respond quickly to any issue that might arise. It is good to have a friend in the industry, one who understands your goals and who will be available even after the project has shipped.
Knowledge is power, and knowing that you are working with professionals who are passionate about nailing the details, like Tectonics, is powerful indeed. Your trade show sign is too important to leave to the lowest-bidding vendor. Work with a professional manufacturer who will stick by your side, through all stages of production, and will ensure that your sign looks great and performs up to your expectations.
Take time when selecting your tensioned fabric sign vendor and insist on quality at every step of production. A quality tensioned fabric sign is beautiful to the eye, and a joy to own.
Tectonics offers over 900 combinations of tension fabric sign designs and size variations in our standard catalog. We have a vast array of high quality, differentiated designs that can be easily incorporated into your project. It’s a quick, effective way to achieve a unique look while maintaining the strength and premium quality finished product you demand.
Best of all, many of these options are available for purchase or rent, offering you the flexibility to decide how they best fit into your project. Whatever your needs are, our goal is to provide you with solutions to help you succeed. If you can’t find the right option for you, contact us and we can create a custom solution.