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In-Plant Primer 201-Article #6- How Software Automation Increases the In-plant's Value

  • Howie Fenton
  • |
  • December 18, 2017
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This is the final article in our dealer and vendor in-plant education initiative called "In-Plant Primer: From Operations Basics to Advanced Sales Concepts." Divided into six basic (101) and six advanced topics, this is the sixth post of the advanced in-plant primer series, "In-Plant Primer 201: Operational and Financial Concerns." In this advanced portion of the primer series, we've covered topics like financial models, terms to use and avoid with in-plants, the "best" production print operational metrics, and more.

Get the "In-Plant Primer 201: Operational and Financial Concerns" eBook compilation of these advanced topics in you RSA partner resource portal now. 

Key Take Aways

  • In-plants are under constant threat based on the total cost of the in-plant operation which often determines the prices they charge.
  • As a result, reducing costs and monitoring external pricing is critical.
  • Web to print is one strategy that helps reduce costs and prices and offers the additional benefit of greater convenience for internal customers and a mechanism for in-plants to sell to outside customers (in-sourcing).

In-plants Focus on Reducing Costs and Keeping Costs Low

As discussed throughout this primer series, in-plants are under constant threat from companies which include facilities management and outsourcing companies that want to take their business. One common strategy is a financial approach where the approaching firm proposes that the total cost or the prices charged-back will be lower to the parent organization than the in-plant charges. The strategy used by the in-plants to defend against this threat is to constantly compare external prices to internal pricing and either find a way to reduce prices using software automation or outsource those products. This was confirmed in the InfoTrends report, "US Production Software Investments" (2015), where participants were asked, "Which of the following initiatives best describes your strategic business direction in the next five years?", the number one answer with 74% responding was, "reducing production costs and improving efficiency." Increasing operational productivity and reducing manufacturing costs run hand in hand. Driving down the cost of manufacturing results in both shorter turnaround times and more competitive prices. These can be achieved through ongoing process improvements or automation technologies.

Workflow Automation Brings Value to In-plant Managers and C-Level Execs

Production automation can be accomplished through hardware or software. The most common hardware automation is in-line finishing done with printing presses. In terms of software automation, there are three categories: Web to print, Print MIS and prepress PDF workflow software. These software products reduce the number of times files are "touched" by staff and how much time is required for each touch. There is a wide range of productivity improvements from these solutions, but it is not uncommon to see 25%-100% increases in productivity. While all three software packages speed production and reduce costs for the in-plant, the one tool that also provides extra value is Web to print. The additional value for the executive is that it makes it easier for the customers to order or reorder printing. The extra value for the in-plant manager is that it provides a tool for in-sourcing. As discussed in Article #5 in our Primer 101, "Industry Trends Occurring with In-plants" in-sourcing is when an in-plant sells work to external companies. The advantage of in-sourcing is that it provides an additional revenue stream that helps the in-plant meet its financial obligation. For some in-plants, that means no longer operating at a loss, but operating at a financial breakeven or even making money. Web to print can automate that process.

Learn More About How Workflow Automation Improves In-plant Value

Learn more about how workflow automation improves the value of an in-plant and other key topics in our educational series by accessing your RSA partner resource portal. You'll find two eBooks, a webinar recording about all of the topics and more.

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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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