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Is Your Print Workflow Technology Keeping Up

By Ernie Crawford, President & CEO, Crawford Technologies on July 13, 2022

Our industry's ongoing transformation into digitally empowered print service providers (PSPs) and in-house printers is forcing companies to figure out how to exist and thrive going forward, and what they must do to adapt to a new environment.

Print-related manufacturing workflows are a major area for improvement. Together with rapidly changing technology, companies need to review the operations they perform every day. When a company’s technology, processes and supporting workflows remain stale and unchanged over time, there is a significant risk of sticking to outmoded practices and not taking advantage of the efficiencies that new technology affords. Businesses that are not afraid of new technology don’t accept the status quo. They are always questioning, researching, embracing, and implementing new operational efficiencies. They are being proactive, not reactive, resulting in streamlined operations.


Are you changing with technology?

In 2011, Tesla delivered 0 vehicles. Ten years later, in 2021, they delivered 936,172 vehicles and are considered the most technologically advanced automotive manufacturer in the world. In 2011, it was a pipe dream for a private company to fly people into outer space. In September 2021, SpaceX launched Inspiration4, a three-day, four-person, fully private crewed mission to the International Space Station.

What’s my point and how is that related to production print workflows? Well, what we can derive is that the advancement of people, processes, and technology has changed drastically in 10 years. You are either keeping pace, advancing and thriving, or falling behind and suffering.

Companies such as Tesla and SpaceX are combining machine learning (ML) decision intelligence with robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate and execute workflows with little to no human intervention. They want the productivity of automated systems along with the reliability of data-driven decision-making supplied by machine learning. How else can you land a reusable rocket on land!?

Today, ML, RPA, and AI are available in the print industry as well, providing PSPs with useful capabilities to automate print production workflows and reduce errors. For example, RPA software can create software robots or bots that learn, mimic and execute rule-based business processes.


Don’t live in the past, move forward

In 2012, I was recommending that each client and application be set up in a single workflow and then merged before printing into “like” jobs. While this style of workflow was considered efficient with the technology available at that time, we learned it created hundreds of data output workflows and watched folders. Moreover, it created even more working folders that a company or organization must manage, troubleshoot, clean out, and set up for error handling. 

Today, I’m recommending intelligent workflow software that will streamline business processes and help automate print production. This software removes complexity by simplifying and normalizing the workflow process, standardizing on a single trunk-based workflow with small branches to remove overlap and duplicative instructions. That, and agile APIs that make it simple to integrate with best-of-breed-software. 

Effective workflow technology delivers a solid, hyper-automated, no-code workflow platform that lets your operations team easily add, remove, and adjust workflows based on your business needs, versus you adjusting your workflow to fit your software’s capabilities. The benefits of adopting modern, process automation workflow technology will outweigh the cost to purchase and implement. Further, reducing disruptions to your business and reducing the resources needed to manage your current systems will pay off in spades.

Just like Tesla and SpaceX changed the automotive and aerospace worlds, hyper-automated, no-code workflow platforms are revolutionizing and eliminating manual steps and setups from print and mail workflows. They remove the need for tribal knowledge and complex machine setups. They empower success and eliminate failure by connecting all your software and hardware into a harmonious production ballet, instead of a mess of input files and output files that are impossible to manage and even harder to understand. 

Technology is not a fad and automation is not just a piece of a workflow. The idea is to connect and integrate your print production tools (hardware and software) together into a hyper-automated, intelligent, streamlined set of processes with self-auditing, managed alerts and automated approvals to eliminate human errors. PSPs and in-house printers that can configure and set up a new customer or application in minutes without having to get programmers or developers involved is priceless. 

Just like a car that can practically drive itself and a rocket that can land on its own, the time is now to start utilizing leading edge print production workflow technology to ensure your workflow can run itself. 

Come see the Crawford Technologies team at thINK Ahead 2022, where we will showcase our revolutionary, Canon-compatible PRO Conductor workflow platform.


A digital document industry pioneer, Ernie Crawford is President/CEO and founder of Crawford Technologies. One of only a small number of people worldwide with M-EDP (Master Electronic Document Professional) designation, Ernie has more than 30 years of senior marketing and management experience in the high-volume digital printing market.