This article is the second in a series about the top five challenges facing in-plant print centers. This article focuses on what has been identified by in-plants in the U.S. Production Software Investment Outlook (InfoTrends, 2015) as their top business direction in the next five years – reducing production costs and increase efficiency.
In the InfoTrends white paper, How Web to Print Helps In-Plants Increase Value, cost reduction is identified as the most important factor that motivates outsourcing. “...increasing productivity and reducing the costs of manufacturing are two of the most important initiatives for in-plant service providers.” Below is a list of 17 ways that Web to print and workflow software can save your in-plant time and money, automate and increase efficiencies. What other ways have you seen workflow software reduce costs and increase efficiency?
17 Ways to Decrease Cost and Increase Efficiency
1. Increase the number of jobs produced each day- without adding staff. Spread costs out over a larger volume and deliver economy of scale. A mid-west insurance and financial services firm is one organization that has used Web to print technology to increase productivity and reduce production costs. The organization's print production process is automated and its manufacturing costs are reduced by using Rochester Software Associates' (RSA's) WebCRD and QDirect to automate the customization of printed pieces and increase the accuracy in routing to different departments.
2. Increase print volume through centralization, added services, awareness and convenient customer access for job submission and status updates.
3. Increase customer satisfaction. More satisfied customers reduce costs in a number of ways. Satisfied customers typically need less attention by your service team, order more often and in larger quantities and keep your customer acquisition costs down. Particularly with an in-plant, dissatisfied customers can make it much more challenging to get business from other employees of your parent organization. Happy customers can generate referrals.
4. Produce work on more cost-effective production printing equipment, rather than on MFPs and distributed devices. A centralized print center also will offer more production and finishing options, leading to potentially more work produced inside the in-plant.
5. Reduce touches/labor. Fewer touchpoints in the process reduce costs, including labor, time and waste (mistakes, late orders, etc.). Consider updating your workflow software to automate repeat processes and save even more.
6. Increase equipment utilization. Continuously running equipment to feed uninterrupted orders to the staff reduces expense per piece and that cost reduction can be passed back to customers.
7. Bring work inside. Producing work internally often costs less than sending work outside. Leveraging workflow processes and efficiencies can make it even more cost effective and efficient for customers to use the in-plant. Bringing work back in provides a number of benefits in addition to saving the parent organization money and generating revenue for the in-plant, including: adding new services, filling idle equipment time, recovering costs and paying for shop improvements.
8. Save customers budget dollars. In addition to providing lower cost printing, reducing the time customers spend submitting and managing print work provides savings. RSA customers have many examples of savings in several vertical markets with documented results ranging from putting teachers back in the classroom from 20 minutes a day, to saving 70,000 teacher hours annually, to savings of $1 million. See: rocsoft.com/case-studies/ for detailed results.
9. Reduce waste and increase compliance with Print on Demand. A major Pennsylvania medical center better adheres to HIPAA regulations using WebCRD to enable printing of current compliant forms and eliminate the use of outdated materials. An insurer saves $1 million a year in inventory costs.
10. Reduce bottlenecks. InfoTrends' 2015 Trends in Workflow Automation Emerging Trends, research shows that major bottlenecks exist in print production workflow, including in job estimating, proofing and approval, job ticketing, billing and job submission. InfoTrends identifies software automation as a solution. WebCRD eliminates these bottlenecks, automating these functions in your production print workflow.
11. Protect brand integrity/identity. No one is more committed to delivering your company-branded materials with the right colors and specification. A national paint manufacturer prevents critical variation in materials used by their paint stores by printing only internally. After reviewing work produced externally, the in-plant found their work was the only work that was consistently producing the correct colors- critical to a business that is based on color.
12. Expand services through workflow software capabilities. Offering more services like variable data printing using the capabilities of your workflow software can increase efficiency, save money and increase the volume and billing of an in-plant.
13. Help your customers be successful. For example, a national investment house increased sales revenue while reducing marketing costs by eliminating the need for outside design resources. And, Sales received customized materials in days rather than weeks by using WebCRD variable data templates.
14. Automate ordering, prepress and moving jobs between print queues. Work with your team to find ways to capture information every time at the point of entry from the customer. It should only take a click or two for the prep and schedule team to put the order in the proper queue. Automate imposition, machine settings and layouts with a single tool like RSA's QDirect output manager or integrated tool set. Enable your workflow to handle repetitive decisions without operator intervention. Most orders should just start printing when the press finishes the last order.
15. Efficiently handle shorter print runs. Order quantities have plummeted. Handling more orders with smaller quantities and high variability requires automation and continuous improvement. Ensure your team has reliable methods of hand off, such as bar code checkpoints that work no matter what the order size or frequency. Continuously tune your workflow for regular patterns, as well as during peak and slow seasons.
16. Save management time and more effectively manage the in-plant operation. Web to print software, such as RSA's WebCRD, provides reporting that automates accounting, the charge back process, and shows volumes and throughput. Reporting shows where the in-plant needs to focus for increasing volume or throughput, where pain points are, and where opportunities may exist.
17. Continuously assess every action in the print center. Every action has a cost- materials, energy, people, facility and equipment. What actions are needed? What actions can be eliminated or reduced? Utilizing workflow software, updating it and adding capabilities over time will enable the print center staff to drive costs out of the process and increase efficiency.
Want More Insights?
Download the white paper 17 Ways In-plants Can Reduce Costs and Increase Efficiency now, watch RSA's In-plant Insights blog for the next article in the series to see more about how top in-plant leaders are meeting today's challenges. You'll gain valuable information from in-plant and corporate print center leaders in Banking, Government, Higher Education, and Non-profit as they share their stories and discuss high impact topics.