Make the Right Investments
The current economy can be viewed as a threat or an opportunity. For in-plants that have made the right investments, the economy has opened the door to some new and exciting opportunities. The right equipment and the right software technology investments can work together to reconcile two critical needs essential to long-term prosperity:
- Offering customers continually improving and innovative services
- Improving efficiencies of the underlying manufacturing operations
As marketing and production departments seek new avenues to save money and cut costs, in-plant printing and mailing operations can deliver better service levels and quality at lower costs, often with better turnaround time. Thanks to digital equipment and refined workflows, print production has been streamlined, translating into an even greater savings of time and money.
Digital Color Reigns
Within the digital printing market in the United States, InfoTrends projects that the retail value of print (Figure 1) will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.3% between 2009 and 2014. Although this is a relatively low rate, the reality is that digital color will experience a CAGR of 5.3% while black & white will decline at a CAGR of -8.3%.
The latest lower-cost hardware, RIPs, and full systems available at relatively low price points mean that in-plants can offer an array of new capabilities and services to their companies. These services can include full-color printing on a wide range of media at little or no incremental cost.
If your company hasn't already gone digital, this should certainly become an investment priority. It's time to look for ways to increase efficiencies and broaden services by considering the replacement or supplementation of older offset presses and traditional methodologies with the latest generation of full-color digital printers.
Efficiency is King
Being a low-cost provider is essential, and this is directly correlated to investments in automated print production workflow. Investing in automation offers the promise of increased productivity and a tighter operation. There are a number of available solutions that enable in-plants to handle order entry via Web-to-print, prepress steps, and production workflow to promote higher job throughput and less human interaction. Print production workflow solutions are increasingly important as turnaround times get faster and print runs get shorter. Additionally, these solutions enable in-plants to monitor workflow and capture data, which can be utilized to make further process improvements.
Barbara Pellow is the owner and founder of Pellow and Partners. With her long history focusing on digital communications and print technology, she works with both print service providers and equipment and software manufacturers on the development of strategies to improve revenue and profitability and grow market share.