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The Datamax Thinking Blog

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Web-2-Workflow: Raising the Bar in Production Print Automation


The questions for in-house print operators becomes clear: How can I keep my jobs running consistently, maximize my productive potential, and spend as much time as I can away from auxiliary tasks that don’t immediately relate to production?

Much like athletes are becoming bigger, faster, stronger every year with the advent of technology (more aerodynamic bikes, lighter shoes, high-performance swimsuits), print operators today feel the same performance pressure (shorter runs, increasing demands, more submission channels) as technology continues to "press" forward.

Perhaps no print entity feels such pressure quite like the Central Reprographics Department (CRD), or in-plant Printer.

With the dual objective of lowering costs (vs outsourcing materials) and maintaining control over all internal printed documents (from business cards to brochures to prescription pads to student folders), CRDs today also face an emerging challenge from executives: Maintain a productive enough print shop (more volume in the same amount of time) to justify not turning to outsourcing.

The questions for in-house print operators becomes clear: How can I keep my jobs running consistently, maximize my productive potential, and spend as much time as I can away from auxiliary tasks that don’t immediately relate to production?

And then you add just a few of the modern challenges print operators face today:

  • Increasing customer demands
  • Faster delivery and lower prices
  • Shorter run lengths
  • Higher number of small jobs
  • Many different job submission channels

The answer, from print’s early past to its burgeoning future, has often been automation. Canon's PRISMAdirect addresses new demands and challenges, and helps fuel more jobs, more control... and direct results. 

The Production Print Past

Let’s travel back into the production print past.

The traditional print operator wore many different hats. When a customer came in, he or she filled out a job submission ticket to get all the essentials related to the job: What medium? Full bleed? Any cuts? Time frame for completion?

The only problem? The printer almost never had all the information the first time. This often led to second (and third) conversations with clients to get all the necessary details before the job could be run. Once the job was actually run, it was on to fulfillment, shipping and billing.

It could be very difficult for the print operator to focus squarely on production. The CRD, specifically, feels direct internal pressure from specific departments based on a myriad of deadlines (ie that graduation program, the new healthcare pamphlet).

The Production Print Present

Along came the web. And this certainly made production print easier on the front end.

With the advent of email, operators felt minimal efficiencies (particularly for the client), as it was more efficient to get jobs into the shop. However, it failed to help with the transactional communications with client and print shop. On the back end, operators and their teams were still manually billing, shipping and communicating client needs as they came in. The print operator was still pulled in multiple directions, overall efficiency stymied by the ebb and flow of the individual workday (and client requests).

The emergence of web stores (web-2-print) has, again, offered customer-driven advantages and provides further automation on the front end. By submitting jobs through a web-2-print interface, a standard is created in processing the job. Within this process, the client can approve the materials without the need for a face-to-face meeting with the printer. Additionally, templates allow print customers to control brand management and content, as portions of a constantly used template can remain consistent throughout a series of print projects.

But what about the back end?

The Production Print Future

web-2-workflow introduces a new standard for streamlining and automating the production process from end to end. Canon's PRISMAdirect accelerates this process for the print operator, from order acquisition, pre-flight, made-ready, client communication, all the way to production and fulfillment.

1. Automated Order Acquisition

No matter how jobs arrive – a supported webshop, email, via Microsoft Outlook plug-in, or walk up, print shops can process and manage them all in one integrated solution.

2. Automated Conversion, Preflight and Preview

Automatically convert native files to PDF format and pre-flight them. Preview each print job and request changes when necessary via email, all without leaving the software.

3. Automated Post-Print

Accounting and shipping information can be pushed directly into appropriate departments. Client is automatically notified throughout the process of the job. Automate invoicing and shipping information so that print departments just has to pack and prepare for shipping.

4. Automated Reporting

Analytic tools are available to determine what percentage of time the press is running, giving CRD managers actionable insights to help monitor control and build greater value in the operation.

Back to the CRD operator and his or her dilemma: “How can I keep my jobs running consistently, maximize my productive potential, and spend as much time as I can away from auxiliary tasks that don’t immediately relate to production?”

With analytics tools available, the operator can better identify the productivity of the team, and better assess how to best utilize available resources. With such automation at work from end to end, he or she can get back to doing what they do best – production.

Bigger. Faster. Stronger.

Are you a commercial printer or CRD facing increasing challenges running operations efficiently, while also trying to grow them? As print runs get shorter, more diverse, and coming from so many different submission channels, could you benefit from more streamlined production process from end to end? Let’s talk!


Topics: Office Equipment Production Print