Posts tagged: Workflow

How effective is your MPS program?

Sheryne Glicksman
 Aug 4, 2017

On a recent webinar, it was stated that 65% of total cost for an MPS program is associated with consumables and supplies. This can be as high as 75% when we consider the A4 conversion going on. Business firms that offer MPS to their customers must continue to focus on this area to improve their MPS programs.

There are many variables that stack up to make an effective MPS program for your customers. One of the variables is associated with shipping consumables. Customers don’t want to stock extra supplies and you don’t want to ship too many supplies, so how we do find the happy medium? First, it’s important for customers to know that they don’t need to replace the toner cartridge the minute it says running low. Are your reps and specialists speaking to customers about your process for shipping toner and why they don’t need to duplicate efforts? Have you invested in dedicated staff to track toner usage and help proactively manage the program? Do you have any kind of system alerts, such as email notifications to customers, before the toner ships? One of the things you can do is make sure your sales reps can easily explain your MPS program to your customers including the importance of managing the supplies.

Another trend we are seeing is the potential growth of inkjet. According to a recent KeyPoint Intelligence study, 2017 was the year that inkjet in the office is expanding. Epson, Canon, HP and Brother continued making investments in business class inkjet and Riso launched the first high speed (120 ppm) inkjet for the office market. How does your MPS program handle inkjet? What are your plans to proactively consider the growth here to incorporate it into your program? How will you track it? As you can see in the chart below, Inkjet serialized segment 3 forecast the highest growth in the next several years.

Business Inkjet vs Laser: 2016 – 2021  North America Placements Forecast

Pic 3

 

We’ve heard the term “Everything as a Service” associated with the future of Managed Print Services. Let’s also consider “Print as a Service”. In a recent study, we found that vendors will intensify efforts to increase user loyalty by offering various plans to add service components to supplies. MPS is well-penetrated in large organizations, but it has not had the same success in SMB. OEM’s are looking for the right formula to convert SMB’s from transitional to a contract sale or a subscription type program. Other plans, such as fleet supplies, auto-order or individual device re-order will continue to be analyzed and developed.

Fleet optimization is another variable to look at. Talk to your customers about how you can help them design solutions around their workflow during your quarterly business reviews. Most dealers successful in the MPS world are adjusting or making tweaks along the way that help customer’s control their costs in printing. A simple thing like swapping one device for another one based on volume, removing the costliest devices and shifting pages to workgroup printers are all good examples of fleet optimization and right-sizing of the fleet conversations you should be having on a regular basis.

Are you using tools that can help track page yields per cartridge, volume per machines and end-user printing? By adding advanced behavior modification software, you can help drive down costs of printing by 20% or more. Simply by having tools to indicate where to send print job based on the specific job is one way this type of software can help. It can also eliminate printing and with the savings from not printing, you can help your customers use these dollars in process automation tools for their business workflow.

Currently digital tools like email are most likely replacing print though many other options exist with document collaboration tools and business process automation. Does your firm have a paper reduction policy? If so, what resources and tools are being used? How are you marketing this to help your customers? Are you considering factors such as security in printing?

Paper Reduction Policies in SMB’s and Enterprises

Picture 8

The dealers who intensify efforts to increase user loyalty by offering various plans to add service components to their supplies, move into subscription programs such as “everything as a service” and offer security services will continue to be on the leading edge of MPS.

The future of MPS is today and beyond.

Epson Announces Partnership with Nuance and showcases new products at “Prism of Possibilities” NYC Event

Barbara Richards
 Jul 27, 2017

epsonlogo nuancelogo

Epson and Nuance form Strategic Partnership

On July 25th, Nuance Communications, Inc., and Seiko Epson Corporation announced a worldwide strategic partnership to enhance the Epson customer experience by providing Nuance document imaging solutions through Epson distributors and resellers. According to Epson, this new partnership brings together the low running costs, reduced intervention and environmental impact as well as the high reliability of their printers, with the ability to securely control and manage print and capture to enhance productivity, while reducing operating expenses for their customers. 

Under the new partnership, Epson will sell and distribute Nuance eCopy ShareScan and Equitrac Office/Express software on their family of inkjet MFPs including the high-speed WorkForce Enterprise WF-C20590 (launched in Spring 2017)http://client.keypointintelligence.com/bliQ/InfoCenter/Document/Item/52413605-84e7-47cd-9f6a-a5e10fb45b1d and LX -10000/7000 series of linehead technology for SMB and corporate workgroups.

In addition, Epson will also integrate the Nuance Omnipage SDK and Epson scanning applications for better OCR accuracy within document workflows and will bundle Nuance’s Power PDF software with a select line of Epson document scanners.

Nuance Solutions to be made available to Epson include:

Epson products Nuance products Nuance products Nuance products
WorkForce Enterprise/Pro Printers Equitrac Office Express Equitrac Express eCopy ShareScan
Document Scanners OmniPage Capture SDK PowerPDF

New DS-410 Document Scanner

At the event, Epson also announced a new commercial document scanner, the DS-410, complete with a 50-sheet automatic document feeder, duplex scanning and 26ppm/52 ipm scan speeds. It offers support for ISIS and TWAIN drivers for seamless integration into most document management software along with a three year limited warranty. According to Mark Pickard, Senior Product Manager of Scanners, the DS-410 is ideal for environments that require a fast and flexible document scanning solution that provides paper-intensive businesses an affordable solution to save, store and protect critical documents. The DS-410 is available today through select resellers and distributors nationwide at a MSRP of $379.

Figure 1- Epson DS-410 Document Scanner

EpsonDS410

 

In addition to the new scanner and partnership announcement, Epson also showcased products from their commercial and enterprise divisions as well as new wearable technologies that will be available later this year.

 

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From Chaos to Calm: The Power of Print MIS

Pat McGrew
 Jul 20, 2017

Power of Print MIS

If you come from the transaction side of production workflow, you have an array of business systems that control how jobs are accepted for production, when they are released into production, and how reporting is managed for compliance. If you come from the graphic arts side of production workflow, you have the same need to control job onboarding, the touchpoints of a job while it is in process, and to record the relevant information about the job all of the way to the point of billing. In some shops, the process is managed using a Print Management Information System (Print MIS) that integrates all facets of accepting and producing print work using software programs, data capturing tools, and reporting dashboards to ensure that all work is tracked and reported. On the other hand, in many shops some or all of these are activities achieved using sticky notes, whiteboards, projected spreadsheets, and envelopes with job notes carried from desk to desk and machine to machine during production.

If you are in that latter camp, this is a good time to start considering some automation. Many of your competitors are already adding automation to their business software portfolio to allow them to onboard and produce jobs more efficiently. This gives them an advantage at several levels. A good Print MIS program offers insight into the jobs that are onboarded, where each job is in production, what jobs are experiencing delays, job costs, and ultimately a view of the revenue. Most can generate e-tickets for job tracking, and even track waste data. Most importantly, a Print MIS becomes the system of record for all jobs, which means if job specifications change during job execution, the information is entered into the Print MIS and available to all departments immediately.

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DSCOOP EMEA 2017 – setting the benchmark for user groups

Ralf Schlozer
 Jul 10, 2017

From June 7th to 9th Dscoop EMEA went into its 6th round at the Centre de Congres in Lyon. About 1,300 attendees from more than 45 countries joined the event.

HP went to great lengths to present the latest printing technology live and running to the attendees with four Indigo B2 devices printing at the site (two 12000, one 20000 and 30000), as well as the latest label presses shown in action – including an Indigo 8000 Digital Press. In addition HP shared some installation data, with currently 6,000 Indigo presses installed worldwide in commercial print and another 1,750 presses in label and packaging printing. This includes about 570 B2 engines. Large format latex printer installations amount to about 45,000 by June 2017, outnumbered by one million large format Deskjet devices installed. HP shared some information on the uptake of PrintOS as well and reported 5,560 registered users at 2,400 companies, with 1,700 of them using PrintOS weekly.

At the event HP announced some improvements to PrintOS: notably PrintBeat has a mobile edition now, which allows monitoring and benchmarking press performance from mobile devices. High definition imaging was presented at the event again and although it is set to go into field testing later this year, with general availability planned for 2018. Available now are several new screening options that will help in photo printing and high contrast images.

While pink fluorescent ElectroInk was introduced half a year ago, fluorescent yellow just became available to Indigo users. Fluorescent green and orange were shown at the event and are currently being field tested. Another new ElectroInk just introduced is “Light Light Black”, which is especially intended for smooth gradations in photo printing, underscoring that HP Indigo remains committed to be the leader in specialty colour choice. At drupa 2016 HP showcased more than a dozen of other specialty ElectroInks to gauge user interest – at Dscoop Lyon HP Indigo previewed some of these inks again: thermochromic ink (changes colour depending on temperature), heat seal (the glue is activated at high temperature) and release inks (e.g. for scratch cards), which are apparently moving closer to commercialisation. Additionally metallic ElectroInk was shown again, which should garner the biggest interest, but is likely to get a launch not sooner than 2018.

HP Technology Fair - with new EletroInk types

HP Technology Fair – with new EletroInk types

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Interacting with Ricoh Customers!

Pat McGrew
 Jun 28, 2017

When vendors decide to host user meetings they have two obligations: provide value for the time spent and help customers build a network. The Ricoh INTERACT meeting in Boulder last week met both requirements. The agenda was the best mix of technical education, market education, motivation, and fun for the attendees.

2017 Interact Template

It is a big request when vendors reach out to customers and ask them to leave their businesses for several days on the promise that they will learn things they can take back and use to grow their business. It requires a delicate balance between presentations and discussions. The INTERACT meeting hit the right balance by including several of their customers as featured presenters.

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For workflow, to scale or not to scale? That is the question!

Pat McGrew
 Jun 19, 2017

It’s time to ask the question that is often missed in discussions about workflow – is the current workflow scalable? Scalable isn’t only a question of getting bigger; it is also a question of complexity. If your workflow was built to handle one type of job, like books or bills or bingo cards, and today you are handling magazines, direct marketing mailers, and posters, there may be a mismatch between your work and your workflow.

The mismatches often begin with how jobs are sold and onboarded. A common change in sales is the addition of a web-to-print solution to open your doors to a wider audience. When that addition happens, your scale of operation generally changes. Instead of sales coming in via relationships with your sales people, who know your capabilities, there are jobs coming in from customers who may not have paid attention to your website, and may not have followed your instructions. While most web-to-print solutions allow for rules-based interrogation of the incoming job, in many cases, contrary to how the systems are intended to work, someone in the shop is assigned to look at the jobs and determine if they can move into production. When you think about scalability, the more jobs that come in through a web-to-print application that require physical review, the less scalable that process becomes.

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Why Was ESKOWorld 2017 Worth My Time?

Pat McGrew
 May 25, 2017

Pat McGrew
Director, Production Workflow Services
Keypoint Intelligence

Most vendors have learned the value of user group meetings. They bring together their customers and their product teams, open the door to learn more about customer requirements, and build a sense of community that leads to customer loyalty. The team behind ESKOWorld, the North American user conference for users of ESKO (www.esko.com) packaging, printing and finishing solutions, accepted their mission and, with the help of their customer advisory council, created a well thought out agenda that addressed the needs of over 500 users and 100 brand owners and agencies.

One of the harder things to do at these conferences is to provide guidance on the product roadmaps. A company like Esko is managing more than a dozen products, each with enthusiastic customers looking for guidance, and a passionate product team wanting to share. At ESKOWorld the solution to sharing the roadmaps for the large product set came in two shots: an innovative set of short presentations by the product managers during the opening and dedicated roadmap sessions. For customers not familiar with the range of offerings, that overview from the product managers was an excellent way to bring everyone up to speed. Whether it was a 20year-old product like ArtiosCAD or a newer set of products like Studio or Keyshot, everyone gave you a reason to want to learn more. How can you resist wanting to know more about Studio, a product that allows you to see things that do not currently exist and to create variations before deciding on the final execution? Even the Automation Engine has had a makeover with a new browser-based user interface.

Another hard thing to program is the keynote, but this was not an issue. Dr. Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics brought one of the best overviews of the economics of the market we live in, with a good dose of which things to pay attention to and why. One of his more interesting points was that organizations must drive efficiencies to grow –a key element of the workflow story – but also that marketing is an essential element due to the competition.

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Dover Corporation rounding up portfolio of digital printing technologies

Ron Gilboa
 Apr 12, 2017

Last week Dover [NYSE:DOV] bought Caldera for 35 million euros. This acquisition is the third such recent move for Dover and expands their digital print capabilities to include color management, web-to-print, production workflow and automation.

Dover corp

Dover Corporation was a $6.8 Billion company in 2016, with global holdings served by almost 29,000 employees. The company’s holdings are in four key areas: energy, engineering systems, fluids, and refrigeration & food equipment. Over the past few years Dover has set its sights on the digital printing market and its related growth opportunities. This strategy has resulted in several acquisitions of which Caldera is the latest one. Preceding this acquisition Dover acquired MS Printing, a manufacturer of textile printing solutions in February of 2014) and followed this with the acquisition of JK Group, a manufacturer of inks for the textile industry, in October of 2015. These acquisitions of inkjet printing and inks companies were key to developing a value chain in digital printing, but one aspect was missing;  workflow. The Caldera acquisition helps round out the solution set.

Calder aLogo

Caldera, under the leadership of CEO Joseph Mergui, has been developing digital front-end solutions for wide format printing for over 25 years. Caldera provides a high-end color management, production management tools, web-to-print, automation and connectivity to most wide format type printers in this industry segment.

Over the past few years the Caldera team has focused on the demands of the sign & display industry and has begun to embed tools for advanced workflow solutions beyond simple RIPping and color management. The company has added job management, accounting, and production dashboards that allow print service providers to evaluate their production environment from job timing to ink consumption. Caldera also has begun to add solutions for emerging opportunities in industrial print segments and now offers solutions for textile printers and mixed environments for digital displays are in use side by side with printed output.

This acquisition will benefit both companies. Dover now has a workflow solution that integrates well with its existing assets, and through Caldera’s industry network they gain access to other markets. Caldera now benefits from the strength and market development capabilities of a large organization that sees digital printing in the graphics, industrial, and decorative markets as strategically important for future growth.

This acquisition is reminiscent of several others in this space, most recently that of AVT by Danaher, as well as that of Reggiani and Optitex by EFI.  A generation of innovative, smaller companies, are uniting with larger organizations for growth in digital printing and related areas. We expect these mergers and acquisitions to continue as industrial markets turn to digital printing as a mean to address end user demand for mass customized products.

Next Up for Vendor Shows: Xeikon Café in Belgium

Bob Leahey
 Mar 8, 2017

At this time of year vendors and users of digital print technology have a spate of events that qualify as vendor-specific tradeshows, ones hosted or sponsored by individual equipment suppliers. Among the best known are two that just took place, namely Hunkeler Innovation Days (February 20-23 in Lucerne) and Dscoop (March 1-4 in Phoenix, Arizona, for HP users). A third event, coming soon, is a pure play in digitally printed packaging and well worth visiting—the Xeikon Café that will take place in Belgium on March 27-30.

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How Automated is your Workflow Automation?

Pat McGrew
 Jan 13, 2017

There are still a few more items in the Workflow Quiz to work through before we can say that every stone has been turned over in the quest for optimization and documentation. In this segment it’s time to look at what processes you have that might qualify as islands of automation that should be linked together.

Most print shops have some automation in place. Tools are purchased to meet a specific need, and sometimes suites are brought in to automate specific sets of processes. What tools and suites have you brought in over the years to automate? Web-to-print solutions? Order entry and management solutions? Job tracking? Are your production processes linked to your accounting processes?

Workflow Automation orchestrates the handoffs between processes to eliminate human intervention and create seamless activity from the start of a job to delivery. It may include automation of resource allocation, flow control, and consumables ordering, but always includes reporting as each step is completed.

Over the years I’ve visited shops with some amazing automation. Some was bought, some was assembled from a variety of software sources, and still other solutions were written in-house. In most cases the teams working in the shop started their automation out of a need to streamline multiple job onboarding processes or tie multiple touchpoints into a single process. The goal is always to move jobs through faster. Read more »

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