By Tony Curcio
Today, ecommerce and web to print (W2P) platforms are vital for printing and packaging companies to thrive in a fast-paced, short-run, digital era. But so is seamless, customized, workflow integration across their entire business. To me, this is the ultimate paradox because the advantages of adopting customized workflow automation are beyond question—just like the advantages of having an online storefront.
So, What’s the Problem?
Most printers I spoke with were still hesitant to make any type of investment until two things happen. First, their bottom line starts growing; and second, the current supply chain chaos eases. Other studies revealed a basic misconception that growth only meant adding faster, more efficient presses and costly finishing equipment.
Industry analyst Pat McGrew, former director of Keypoint Intelligence Production Workflow, sees the cause as rooted more in history. “A huge percentage of print shops are family owned,” she says. “As their businesses grew, they hired new sales specialists and invested in new hardware. And as long as the work kept coming in, they didn’t see a need to automate.
Why Aren’t Most Printers Deploying Automation like They Adopted Digital Systems and W2P?
To find out more, I talked to Marc Raad, president, Significans Automation, a 30 year industry veteran of software and digital transformation. His customized solutions have helped printers across North America to the point where some client numbers seem almost surreal.
• Up to a 90 percent increase in overall efficiency.
• A 30 percent increase in yearly capacity.
• Several hours of employee work reduced to minutes.
• Job times reduced from eight hours to five minutes.
• Productivity increased from ten to over 50 jobs a day.
• Labor costs cut by over 50 percent.
• Up to an eight-fold reduction in prepress staff.
• Return on investment measured in weeks and months.
Customization is the Game Changer
Raad explains the paradox. “Adopting customized workflow automation means that printers are going to facilitate huge production savings, capacity enablement, and day-to-day efficiencies. Customized workflows, robotics, and AI are transforming the global printing and packaging industries. The key word here is ‘customized.’ The irony is that, of the over 300,000 workflow systems installed worldwide, only about 10 percent are customized enough to have a major impact on a print shop’s bottom line.”
Raad suggests that optimizing—where possible—existing software or adding new workflow software that’s best-in-class per application and enables a print shop to operate in less of a siloed manner. “Printers need to make customized workflow a priority in every department, from prepress to delivery—and a simple phone call leading most likely to a remote evaluation costs absolutely nothing,” he adds. “However, if the business doesn’t have a starting point and can’t articulate where that starting point may be, it will continue to experience problems.”
Kickstarting a Shop’s Production Workflow
To further its goal of ultra-customization, Significans Automation recently launched a series of Turbo Switch Packs—a bundled suite of tools for specific workflow needs. The analogy here is that its unique combination of user-driven workflow automation, layout software, Enfocus applications, and 12 months of software maintenance deployed in as little as two hours becomes a “Turbo Switch” and sends production into overdrive. From that point, the business will have a solid foundation and an easier path to maximum production efficiency and cost savings as it strives to “future-proof” itself.
For an assessment of your shop’s specific workflow automation needs, call Significans Automation at 877-463-4465 or visit significans.com.
Mar2023, Digital Output