Kodak says automation and value added services are key to moving forward in a constantly changing industry. Michael Smedley, business services and solutions group manager at Kodak explores how automation can drive productivity and cost savings in the modern printing environment
The printing industry is under continuing pressure for relevance; in the past printed matter made up huge percentages of corporate companies marketing budgets. Today many companies spend as much on Google based advertising as they do on print. Print is not dead, but it is now part of a media mix that embraces new technologies. It is vital printing companies adapt to these changes and focus on two key things if they are to be successful in the future.
In the US most successful printing companies are now deriving more that 20 per cent of revenue from non-commercial print services. The concept can be concerning if there has been considerable investment in new capital equipment, however some would be surprised to learn that companies offering these value added services are seeing offset revenues rise also.
Printing companies are becoming media companies, and the focus is on the outcomes of the media they produce rather than how skilful a printing company is as a manufacturer. Web developers, asset management, logistics, mailing, agency services are just a few of the services companies are offering over and above offset, digital and wide format printing.
Industries such as automotive and logistics are two of many that have employed smart software and robots
to automate everyday processes therefore speeding time to market, reducing errors and reducing costs.
When you consider that if a print customer submits a file using a credible web to print system that the entire process of quoting, file submission, pre-flight, imposition, proofing, colour management and invoicing can now all be computer based tasks, the question needs to be asked why is it so difficult to automate?
It promised so much and delivered so little. Like any technical endeavour, the devil is in the detail, and this detail all stated in earnest at drupa 2000 with the announcement from all the vendors that JDF was the saviour. One set of computer based instructions that equipment, MIS and software vendors could all agree on and would mean all systems could talk to all other systems.
In reality, even today a decade later in 2011, many MIS and equipment vendors are not truly JDF compliant, and many printing companies have numerous systems that do not connect in any meaningful way. JDF continues to evolve and the cost to rebuild your software or firmware is not commercially viable, until today.
Printers need to automate, and JDF is the tool that will make this happen, The Kodak Unified Workflow (UWS) suite of products, when connected to a fully compliant JDF MIS system, can automate everything.
Kodak UWS solutions cover web to print, on-screen soft proofing, workflow, rip and output for both digital and offset printing combined with the JDF connector to a JDF compliant MIS system. The focus is on the connection. The individual products have considerable market share, both locally and around the world, but it is the connection that can drive automation.
Kodak has identified the trends of differentiation and automation, and has created the Marketmover Print Practice. It focuses on helping companies drive automation by not only utilising existing Kodak technologies to drive efficiencies, but also working with other software and hardware vendors to connect systems.
This service is now available in Australia and includes services such as:
• Writing custom software
• Joining other vendors’ systems
• Connecting MIS systems to workflows
• Tailoring web to print systems to suit end customers needs
• Workflow consultancy
• International benchmarking
• System design and architecture
• Business and process analysis
• Testing and assurance
Kodak has worked with many companies and internal research suggests productivity improvements between 10 per cent to 20 per cent, pre press cost savings between 30 per cent and 60 per cent, and many companies see a one per cent to two per cent net increase in profits. This is a compelling story and makes logical sense, so the question is what can you automate?