Print Automation at Texas Tech University HSC
Arthur Paré, assistant managing director for General Services at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), is quick to point out that in-plant print operations are not always considered essential parts of the parent organization. At TTUHSC though, Paré’s in-plant runs the way more in-plants should.
For example, Paré’s shop gets to review all printing purchase orders generated at the University, and can counter with their own quote, which procurement almost always accepts. At TTUHSC each potential job is reviewed to see how it may fit into the schedule and whether the shop can do the job efficiently and on schedule. The TTUHSC rule not only drives more work to the shop, it ensures the organization gets the best value for its money.
An Efficiency Driver
This strategy means more jobs of all sizes and descriptions land on the presses of the print shop, driving a need to process them quickly, accurately — and profitably. At TTUHSC the tool of choice is PressWise, a powerful SaaS print MIS from SmartSoft.
PressWise is tightly integrated with the university’s accounting systems, simplifying cost tracking and control. With some 631 departments spread over five universities across Texas, keeping track of printing costs is not a trivial matter.
“Each department is a customer,” explains Paré. “We have to know each department’s exact spend and the types of jobs they run.” Before PressWise, it was hard to tell whether jobs were charged correctly, and sometimes even if the charges went to the right department.
The automated job submission process creates a job ticket that accompanies each job as it progresses through the plant. For example, someone in the physics department seeking to submit a job first sees a PressWise-driven digital “storefront” customized for their department. A job ticket is put into the schedule, pre-flighted, and all job specs are attended to: layout, paper and cover stocks, type of binding, quantity, distribution requirements, departmental branding, etc. From receipt through printing, a job may be untouched by human hands, but its status is readily available for Paré’s team to see.
In PressWise, production managers and machine operators can tell whether there is enough stock on hand to complete a job, as well as how much is left after each job is completed. Exact quantities each job uses (including waste) are tracked so the amounts available are known before the next job is run. In addition, the system can be configured to help maintain inventory levels, so materials can be re-ordered based on usage and stocking levels.
Paré says most of the 20 or so people working in his shop had never worked with an automated Print MIS before or experienced the power of a digital storefront. This lack of experience turned out to be a nonissue. “They were able to be up and running with PressWise in about 30 days,” recounts Paré.
Still the transition was not without some pushback. Paré heard from his designers, who felt the system would reduce their work, such as departmental business cards which were shifting to using a series of templates. They instead found that their time was freed up, so they could shift from being primarily typesetters to graphic designers, where their creativity and skills were more valuable.
Paré sees the decreasing number of touchpoints have completely streamlined his shop’s workflow. “We have to turn jobs fast,” he notes. “We’ve always been a short-run shop, mostly in the 4,000 to 10,000 copies range. With such short runs we need efficiency and automation, and that is what we get using PressWise.”
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