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5 keys to upgrading your production print systems
Make your next investment in production print and finishing systems a game changer by following these five key considerations.
Your print and mail finishing operation is complex, often comprised of multiple component systems that have been sourced from several different suppliers. When the systems are carefully tuned and optimised into a tightly integrated, end-to-end process, operators enjoy benchmark levels of productivity, cost efficiency and integrity. Learn about removing the barriers that likely prevent you from enjoying this full set of benefits.
In some cases, businesses are hampered by legacy systems that cannot meet growing expectations for quality or volume. Companies might have developed “islands of automation” within their print and operations. These are siloes in which a specific part of the process is optimised, but not in concert with, (and often to the detriment of) the rest of the system.
Whatever the specific operational shortcoming, businesses today face too many pressures to let inefficiencies or sub-optimisation across their print and mail operations keep holding them back, said Kevin Marks, vice president of Global Production Print at Pitney Bowes.
“Corporate in-plants as well as for-profit transactional service bureaus are under pressure. Operations leaders need to satisfy new customer requirements, deliver greater results with fewer resources and be prepared to meet new government or regulatory changes,” explained Marks. “The bottom line is, what you’ve done in the past won’t necessarily generate success into the future. You just don’t get far enough when you’re running in place.”
To accelerate your success, consider an investment in the latest digital colour inkjet print technology. The following five factors can guide your search and decision process.
01. High print quality, in both appearance and process
Colour inkjet print quality has come a long way since it was first introduced about 10 years ago. Print speed and resolution advances make it possible to produce no-compromise print production quickly and cost effectively. Note that print quality is more than just an aesthetic consideration. It helps drive process efficiency and net total process yield.
Again, it is critical that the you consider the entire end-to-end print and mail ecosystem. If there is an inefficiency or inadequacy, it can negatively impact the integrity of your organisation’s efforts.
“Your print output feeds your inserter. If the printing system cannot generate nor maintain excellent print quality, you are introducing waste and compliance risk into your process,” said Marks. “If a client statement has poor legibility or is susceptible to smudging, there could be time and process delay costs required for reprints.”
Similarly, if a barcode that goes on the document isn’t consistently crisp and machine readable, your risk an inaccurate reading.
“If your inserter can’t read the barcode, a mail piece could end up in the wrong envelope, which is a compliance risk,” Marks added.
Other risks include delayed delivery, which affects customer service, or inaccurate information. A customer that cannot tell the difference between a ‘6’, a ‘9’ or an ‘8’ on their bank statement will not be very happy.
“It’s more than just DPI, although that is important because the bar for print quality is being raised every day,” said Marks. “You have to consider the full impact of print on the quality of your production.”
02. End-to-end system integration
It is not surprising that printing vendors focus their attention on the print function. Alternately, mail finishing vendors focus their attention on mail finishing.
To extract the full value of modern and efficient print and mail operations, it is important to optimise your entire production process, not just its component parts. In fact, focusing on only one aspect of production might negatively affect the rest of your process, resulting in a net efficiency loss.
“As companies make printing technology decisions, they may opt for higher speed and throughput,” Marks explained. “But, if their inserters are the next process step and aren’t tuned for a surge in volume, the organisation might not achieve the full value of the move to inkjet. You need to consider the whole flow of work.”
In comparison, when your integrated print and mail finishing supplier considers how each step in the process can affect the other areas of the value chain, you not only improve operational performance, but also open the door to additional business benefits.
An enterprise that harmonises printing and mail finishing is likely to send out customer invoices faster than its competitors. Sending the invoice earlier means getting paid earlier. Multiply that process across thousands, tens of thousands or millions of customers, and the revenue impact quickly adds up.
03. Easy upgrades… without a forklift
Client expectations grow every day and your capabilities need to improve just as fast. Businesses with a practical and affordable technology upgrade path will enjoy a competitive advantage compared to those who have to rip and replace their print and mail system every few years.
“Inkjet technology continues to evolve. Printing systems are getting faster and offering a higher print resolution all the time,” Marks said. “The problem is many print vendors would prefer to sell new systems. Even if they do offer an upgrade, those systems are cost prohibitive or impractical to implement.”
Many print vendors suggest what amounts to a “forklift upgrade,” in which you have to physically remove one or more systems and replace it with a brand-new system to get the latest technology.
“How much of a disruption would a forklift upgrade be to your operation?” Marks asked. “How affordable will the new system be, particularly if the original system is already on a lease or depreciation schedule?”
The alternative is to retrofit new enhancements to existing systems. A practical field upgrade is more manageable than a heavy lift, and it can still improve your competitive position. The inability to offer state-of-the-art print and mail quality to your customers means that you are left to compete on commodity pricing, which is a no-win proposition in the long term.
“It’s a question of future-proofing your print and mail investment,” Marks added. “Companies that choose solutions that have proven upgrade paths are able to stay ahead of the game, save money and can withstand changes to the market.”
04. Total cost of ownership
In an increasingly digital world, print needs to work harder than ever to maintain a strong return on investment. So, as they evaluate solution providers, businesses need to consider operational costs.
“Businesses that think about run cost and effective cost per unit will be in a position to grow top-line revenue and boost profits on the bottom line,” explained Marks.
It is important to determine accurate modelling of run costs including the ink usage required to achieve acceptable print quality. Also, consider capital costs and have a clear understanding of future upgrades, to ensure their system is always optimised to offer next-generation quality. Certain vendors also offer programs to make operational expenses more predictable.
The better your operating margins, the stronger your position to secure new business as well.
05. Service expertise and accountability
Well-maintained systems are less expensive to run, provide better reliability and output, and grease the wheels for future strategic upgrades. The ideal scenario, Marks said, is to work with a partner who understands how to service and optimise each part of your ecosystem in concert.
“If you have a service engineer on-site for your print system and the inserter goes down, that same service engineer should be able to go over and help with the inserter,” Marks explained. “Not only does that reduce the wait time on repairs, but it also means you have an expert who can look downstream and upstream to identify improvements in your entire process.”
Single-service expertise also means clear accountability, with one partner who can help you solve challenges at every step in the process.
“Print and mail production is a complex world, and the risk and cost of mistakes is high,” Marks said. “You don’t need to make it any harder on yourself. Choose to work with a partner who knows all of the critical elements of an integrated print and mail operation. Choose a partner who has the proven experience and can help you reach your operational and revenue goals.”
Add value to your print communications. Start by reading our article on the business benefits of colour printing.