Digital Printing Workflow: the need for speed and faster turnaround.
Welcome back to my Ultimate TechnoGraphics blog post. My name is Morten B. Reitoft, and I am the editor of INKISH. I love writing, and I love talking to people; in an interview with Ultimate’s CEO Julie Watson some time ago, I asked her why speed is so important, and I soon realized that, of course, it’s important – so let’s dig into the topic in this post.
For example, if you are a commercial printer, you may remember when the number of jobs you got was fewer but larger. Today the anatomy of jobs has changed. Many PSPs receive more jobs than earlier, but many also receive jobs with variable data, and last but not least, all with lower print runs. Many PSPs experience the change from analog to digital; with all these changes, you can’t handle thousands of orders manually. You may also experience that jobs come from many different sources, and sometimes time doesn’t allow manual intervention – especially not if the errors can be handled automatically.
I once visited a US printing company with about seventy to eighty employees, and the day I visited the company, the order intake was about 8-9,000 jobs in just one day. First, manually checking so many jobs/files a day is impossible. Still, as the order revenue is much lower per order, managing orders automatically and quickly is essential – and you can imagine that bottlenecks are the last thing you need if you are getting as many new jobs tomorrow.
So in the examples described, you can easily understand the importance of automation. The advantage of the new reality is the higher value per job, and the downside is the lower revenue per order. The cost of hiccups may be smaller, but the value of the hiccups is more significant; therefore, there is no time or money for errors or too many manual processes. The key to handling orders smoothly and efficiently is automation. In my last post, I wrote about centralized automation. Managing many orders seamlessly needs fast processing and, maybe more importantly, a scalable solution. But it also requires understanding where bottlenecks are in a printing company.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to a PSP with an extreme focus on efficiency. When I talked to him, I soon realized that it wasn’t just a sport but also a matter of being competitive in a very competitive market and profitable. There is this old saying, “Time is money,” and that’s a fact in our industry. We measure our presses by sheets per hour and calculate our selling prices by how much time the job occupies our equipment, so all components in the flow need to be ‘greased’ to perfection. Order intake, proofing, error correction, and even optimization of file sizes play an important role here, imposition, managing printers and binding equipment to how things are packed, shipped, tracked, and invoiced.
I still visit printing companies that are not using workflow/automation much. It surprises me as the ROI is so high, the repayment time extremely low, and the gained profitability and efficiency exceeds so many measures – especially if you look at the entire flow. Some may say it distances you from your customer, but there are two things to consider here: For those customers you know and have time to nurse, automation will free up more time to talk to the customer. If the time is spent to sell more or evolve the relationship, it can also be used to focus on getting more customers. Other customers you may not know at all. Many people often refer to the Amazon effect, and in short, it means that you get orders from thousands of customers you have never heard of, met, spoken with, or even invoiced, as invoicing goes through Amazon, Ingram, Cloud Printer, or some of the other online facilitators.
The headline of this blog is Speed and faster turnaround. What we haven’t spoken much about is the utilization of your equipment. If you get files from many different sources, you can be almost sure that the “quality” of the files is very different. Ultimate TechnoGraphics and a few others offer software to optimize and streamline the quality of the PDF files you work with. You may think, why? But one of the reasons is to streamline the RIP time and bring the RIP time down. This will make your printing presses more efficient as they won’t have to wait for print jobs. I have visited printing companies where the optimization was so vast that it almost saved the company from investing in a second press.
To optimize your entire workflow and minimize bottlenecks, you require software that is always built on the latest technology- and when you look at Ultimate TechnoGraphics and their speed improvement processes, I believe you are in good hands when working with them!
Morten B. Reitoft