Workflow automation is an important topic for all companies looking to get the most value from the color inkjet purchase or to help justify a purchase of color inkjet. Along with the increased capabilities inkjet offers, companies are seeing an increasing number of smaller, shorter turnaround job requests from their customers. Whether your company is large or small, there are many areas where an automated workflow can enhance your operations.
A common theme underscores the major trends happening in customer communications. It’s output production workflow. Whether this is because of the steadily decreasing cost of hardware and software technology, the increasing regulatory requirements for privacy and audit or the increasing rate of mergers and acquisition in the print production space – it matters little. Output production workflow and process automation is on everyone’s mind.
To fully take advantage of the benefits of inkjet, it’s important to have a workflow that can operate across multiple types of incoming work, automating tasks along the way, and work agnostically in a mixed printing environment with equipment from multiple vendors or multiple printing technology (inkjet production, toner, offset, large format).
One of the problems that hinders the ability to take advantage of the greater speeds and format sizes of inkjet presses is the reluctance of users to replace their proprietary workflows.
Finishing solutions in your shop can be a necessary piece of infrastructure or a differentiator that brings you new business. How you treat finishing in your production often depends on the type of business you operate. For transaction print and mail operations, finishing may revolve around slit/merge, perf/punch, fold and insert operations, while for direct mail print shops there may be a wider range of options for folding, scoring, creasing, and tabbing. Book printers often focus on book block assembly, binding, and cover-based workflows.
Chuck Werninger is Senior Manager of IT Administrative Services at Houston Independent School District. You might be familiar with Chuck as he was a speaker on the "Investing in Inkjet" panel at this year's Inkjet 101 — or perhaps you know him from his active contribution to several other industry publications and events. It’s safe to say that wherever people are talking about the future of print, Chuck is sure to be part of the conversation.
There is widespread agreement that automating your inkjet production workflow has numerous benefits. Automation reduces errors and lets you do more with fewer resources. It supports increased throughput, allows you to make better use of your equipment, and gives you the tools and foundation to take on more work. All of this impacts your bottom line and can lead to increased profits, so automating your workflow appears to be a no-brainer.
One of the challenges with selecting a workflow solution for print is that specific tasks and processes that have to be managed and ideally, automated for different segments of the print industry are strikingly different. Jobs flow differently in commercial print shops than they do in high-volume transactional operations, direct mail houses, service bureaus or CRDs/copy shops in enterprise environments. The work is different, the flow is different and that means the workflow solution must be different as well, doesn’t it?
Workflow is more than just the connective tissue that links people, processes and technology – it is a means of reducing costs, boosting productivity and improving quality. Sadly, many in-plant operations are saddled with inadequate workflow solutions that cause a tremendous amount of extra work for staff to manage jobs – staff that is often already overburdened.