Technological advancements have been transforming and changing the way most organizations do business. It is no secret that the print industry in the US is no exception, as many forward-thinking companies have long been finding new ways to make their business more profitable. It is evident that workflow automation is still one of the hottest and most important topics among almost all printing establishments. While manufacturers and producers continue to introduce new and innovative products on the market, commercial printers are gradually moving into using automation in varying degrees.
In fact, we can argue that commercial printing processes are now quickly moving out of the hands of artisans, and into the highly technology-driven world of workflow automation. And, there is no denying that commercial printers who embrace this new paradigm with open arms will reap the benefits for several years to come.
For printing establishments that have already implemented workflow automation, core benefits include a much better handle on their whole manufacturing approach, with added benefits that improve the customer experience.
On the other hand, for printing businesses which are still investigating the amazing possibilities of workflow solutions, the varying systems available certainly promise greater productivity and efficiency.
What is Workflow Automation?
Workflow automation in the print industry enables businesses to realize revenue at increased opportunities and reduce costs by streamlining process inefficiencies. According to a recent report from The McKinsey Global Institute, at a microeconomic level, creating a workflow enables businesses to gain an advantage over their competitors through performance improvements, like increased throughput, less downtime, and higher quality outputs as well as reductions in labor costs.
Print businesses, both small and medium-sized, can now attain superior productivity and slash costs by streamlining their workflow. This workflow management can create a seamless process that delivers top-notch services to clients while using fewer resources. It is worth mentioning that automated workflow technologies have the potential to take printing businesses in the US to unprecedented levels of profitability.
Obviously, you have to keep in mind that workflow automation in the industry depends on the seamless integration of web-based submissions and the utilization of workflow management software. For example, the latest web-based submissions on the market allow users to specify their print needs and preferences right from their desktop; however, it is up to the workflow automation software and printer to ensure the right print job preferences, specifications, and information.
Features to Consider
Here are some of the main features to look for in workflow management software for your small printing business:
- Intelligent re-calibration of various devices to ensure consistency across the output
- Adequate pre-flighting of jobs automatically
- Standardized printing for no-effort job handling
- Semi-automated or automated toolset that enhances job prep productivity (pre-press)
- Single and comprehensive workflow/ripping solution that helps deliver across the entire organization
- Integrated RIP workflows maintained organization-wide
- Semi-automated and automated finishing (post-press) integrated into the jobs
- Single job ticket created in the MIS (management information system) which drives the whole production workflow, that is part of a smart integrated workflow
Benefits of Workflow Solutions
With the right workflow solution for your small to mid-size printing business, you can run your print shop much more efficiently and smoothly by removing human touchpoints as well as bottlenecks in the process. You can grow your business confidently with the help of an operational structure built on automated and effective print production workflows.
It is worth mentioning that production workflows can support ordering, product manufacturing, customer billing, payment, and marketing, among others. If you run a print shop, you know that every human touch in the process can cause errors, drive up costs, and create delays. Modern workflow automation solutions can help remove these touches while improving your customer experience management, work processes, and reducing costs, thus increasing your return on investment.
Many manufacturers provide a holistic, consultative process that includes assessment, product recommendations, and implementation, as well as support from marketing and technical experts.
You can stay competitive with the right workflow solution. There is no denying that print providers are often under tremendous pressure to reduce costs, price products and services competitively, and increase profits in order to remain viable in the marketplace. Workflow automation is one of the best ways of leveraging a higher margin from your print business.
Make Your Job Submission Process More Convenient
Note that print workflow solutions will help reduce the turn-around time for your customers. This will help you get their print job feedback much faster. Also, automation will certainly make it simpler and quicker for customers to submit orders and track them. Print projects, therefore, will get to market quicker, making your customers more successful.
You can satisfy your customers with accurate and reliable order fulfillment while lowering labor costs. Automation is a great way to enable job control through a dashboard, touch-free prepress, and easy reporting. Note that savings can fund more innovative capabilities that can help your business and grow your customer base.
Miscommunication is undoubtedly one of the main reasons most businesses lose money, and the print industry is no different. Note that word of mouth and email tend to open the door for both communication delays and misinterpretations.
An effective print workflow automation solution will virtually eliminate these costly miscommunications. Automated tools can help identify as well as eliminate errors before any job is printed. The latest technology allows you to propel your business with many error-checking tools. In addition, automated job tracking and messaging ensure that no tasks are left by the wayside and all your deadlines are met.
Automated workflow solutions check against various market-standard job formats, like PDF Industry-standard formats, in order to ensure consistency while minimizing print issues across different file sources.
Improve Turnaround Time
The more automated your system is, the fewer variables are involved in estimating production costs. Therefore, your company can provide a job quote more accurately and quickly by employing print workflow automation. You can improve the turnaround time for customer approvals, print quotes, and job delivery. And this, in turn, usually means your customers approve the proposal faster. This results in faster turnaround time for delivering the job. It will make your clients happy and allow your organization to move on to new projects.
By automating all aspects of your workflow, you will be able to increase capacity, optimize equipment use, and improve throughput. There is no denying that workflow automation can result in expanded capabilities and more revenue for your business.
Ambitious and competitive printing professionals in the industry are in a never-ending pursuit of increased efficiency on various levels. Because of this pursuit, workflow automation has become an indispensable part of the print industry. We know that the initial investment involved in upgrading your existing systems and a few short-term disruptions to printing operations might be daunting, but print shops that do not make the transition to an automated approach will definitely miss out on the great opportunity to unlock the key to expansion and market growth.
Also, keep in mind that a range of software solutions are available to improve your print production process. As a print provider, you have unique needs and requirements when it comes to determining which solutions and tools are the best fit for your business. It’s always good practice to consistently reevaluate your overall workflow and determine if you are making the best use of time and equipment to produce top revenue and the highest efficiency.