As the bottleneck in many high-volume graphics shops moves downstream from order processing and the print room, progressive shop owners are rethinking procedures and technology investments to keep work flowing.
Whether your production is analog, digital, or a combination, efficiency is only half the battle in terms of staying competitive and profitable in today’s market. The axiom “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” applies in graphics shops as it does in any other operation and, increasingly, that link tends to be in the post-printing phase. And as digital technology in the printing process continues to evolve and become more prevalent, it is focusing attention on the need for more effective approaches to operations ranging from cutting and laminating to packaging and order fulfillment, according to industry leaders.
“Most printing shops don’t devote enough time and effort to the post-printing side,” says Visual Marking Systems (VMS) CEO Dolf Kahle. “They think of themselves as printers, and to me they’re missing the ball. There is so much more that the customer wants. I get the feeling that many of the smaller companies that are involved in screen printing or digital printing startups don’t put enough emphasis on saying, ‘I can take care of the whole thing for the customer – the design to the manufacturing to inventory management to installation.’ ”
And doing this efficiently, effectively, and profitably is becoming more and more of a selling point given customers’ increasing sophistication, he contends, adding that when buyers are talking to a potential supplier, they’ve already done their homework and gotten much of the information they need on the internet. They’re educated about what the job involves and they want to know what you can do for them to streamline the process.
“DIY” Can Help
For VMS and other graphics suppliers, this has led to the in-house adoption of a number of post-printing processes with the goal of boosting efficiency and throughput by eliminating vendor-related delays and providing enhanced control. “Many printers broker out services such as laminating, die-cutting, clear coating, packaging, or fulfillment,” says Kahle, whose operation performs all of these processes and others internally. “Having those operations under your own roof allows you to better control delivery time as well as quality and price.”
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