4 Benefits of Workflow Automation. Which is your Favorite?

  • Howie Fenton
  • |
  • August 17, 2018

Over the last few months, we have been focusing on possible reasons in-plants are reluctant to invest in workflow automation. We discussed workflow myths, building the business case and infrastructure, and executives jaded due to claims of increased productivity. There is another side to this story– how you overcome this reluctance by explaining the benefits of automation. Here are four benefits and case histories to consider. We invite you to take the 30-second survey at the end of the post to share which automation benefit is most important to you.

  1. Automation Facilitates In-sourcing

An in-plant in Virginia wanted to refresh their hardware and software to meet the needs of the parent company and wanted to reduce their manufacturing costs to sell externally (in-source/bring in outside business). Based on their total monthly equipment cost and their print volume/month, they were not competitive. We created an RFP for new equipment that included:

  • more appropriate total cost of equipment / month and
  • automation for the front end (web to print) and back-end (finishing).

The combination of a lower lease / month with the savings in automation ($173K/month) allowed the in-plant to in-source work and offer a competitive rate.

  1. Automation Reduces Cycle Time

In 2014, as demand increased for the Folsom Cordova Unified School District they found themselves unable to keep up with demand. Processing 6,400 orders, with each order containing 10-12 jobs had created a backlog of over 1,300 jobs which required seven weeks to fulfill. After investing in RSA's WebCRD™ web to print software, the backlog was cut in half. In 2016, demand increased to 9,000 jobs and the backlog increased to six weeks. The new recommendations for hardware and an optimized plant layout will return the backlog to 2-3 weeks.

  1. Automation Enables More Jobs / Day

A mid-west insurance and financial services firm wanted to increase productivity, print more each day, and reduce production costs. Investing in WebCRD helped reduce estimation and job ticketing and QDirect™ automated the personalization of printed pieces and increased the accuracy in routing to different departments. Jobs that used to take two to three weeks before the automation are now done in one or two days. The new system allows staff to track job status and identifies if a job encounters a problem. The ability to print jobs increased from a few dozen jobs per day to 200 to 300 jobs per day.

  1. Automation Cuts Manufacturing Costs

The State of Oregon had built their own on-line ordering system which was not very user friendly, expensive to maintain, required manual processing by staff, and created production errors. In a recent In-Plant Graphics webinar, Tim Hendrix, the Oregon State printer for the State of Oregon Publishing and Distribution facility, discussed how RSA's WebCRD web to print software is reducing customer and staff time, mistakes, and rework and has helped save over $150,000/yr. In the webinar, Jason Lanzafami, the Senior Operations Analyst summarized the results on a slide called, "Results: Dollars and Sense." He identified three types of savings:

  • Time savings for customers = $23,000
  • Processing at Publishing & Distribution Savings = $55,500
  • Waste Savings: $80,000

 Which Benefit Is Most Important to You?


About the Author

Howie Fenton

Howie Fenton is an independent consultant and trusted advisor to in-plant printers. He recommends equipment, best practices and workflow automation tools to streamline operations. To learn more about measuring performance, benchmarking to leaders, and improving your value e-mail Howie@howiefentonconsulting.com

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