Driving The Digital Route
Hard copy originals? Get with it! To increase efficiency, boost quality and cut costs, in-plants are digitizing their workflows.
Most in-plants are accustomed to handling jobs that are crucial to an organization's success, but when the documents you're producing deal with classified test results on components for new military weapons systems... well, let's just say it's important that the workflow process be handled as efficiently as possible.
That's why the in-plant staff at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory are working overtime on a project that many other shops also find themselves tackling: to assemble and streamline the most efficient system of digital workflow possible.
"You'd think in this day and age someone would have a system set up that runs so perfectly everyone could go out and use the same thing, but that's not the case," says Jean-Luc Devis, operations manager at the lab's Laurel, Md., in-plant. "Everyone's got a different way of doing their work, so we're forced to come up with the system that's best for our own situation."
Two years ago, that's exactly what Devis set out to do. His 17-employee shop—which handles low-run, quick turnaround jobs ranging from stationery to brochures to classified test results—had operated efficiently for years but had yet to turn the corner into digital workflow. Management, swayed by the convenience of e-mail and the University's intranet network—not to mention the potential long-term savings in time and money—encouraged the transition.
Today, the in-plant is transitioning from hard copy to digital submission, and the shop's 4,000 customers have a couple of digital routes to send jobs to the in-plant. For stationery and business cards, the shop maintains a Web site where customers can re-order with only a few clicks on the keyboard. The information then resides on the file server, which service reps check every day for new orders to be forwarded to prepress. At prepress, the information is cut and pasted into a PageMaker template, which is then sent to a Panther platesetter.