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The Realities of Implementing Computer-to-Screen Imaging

(September 2006) posted on Sun Sep 10, 2006

Coudray reveals his own experiences with a CTS system, and how he restructured his garment-pritning business around the technology.

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By Mark A. Coudray

Enter the need for a database makeover. Filemaker Pro was once our database of choice. We used it to store client information, job histories, estimates, orders, and invoices. We created work orders from estimates and invoices from work orders. We handled all of this in the front office before the tickets went to scheduling and the production departments. We used a pegboard scheduling system where 3 x 5-in. cards were filled out, punched, and hung on pegs for their respective due dates. This worked well when we handed fewer than 10 orders per day and the orders would stretch over a 10-day period.

Our scheduling system changed within 30 days of installing CTS technology. Order volume skyrocketed to 20 jobs per day, and they were all due with-in three days. We exposed 840 screens in our first month, compared to the fewer than 200 screens we handled the month before. This increase jammed everything into the front end of the process. The old system began to crash. Orders weren't entered fast enough. Orders got lost. We had no way to handle multiple changes to the order.

In addition, we now had to deal with an entirely digital image-data workflow. Jobs would come to us by CD, e-mail, or over Internet-based file transfer. We needed some way to acquire and track the image files as they arrived. The fact that art frequently arrived from multiple sources further complicated matters. The art would often not be identified, so we'd have to track down the source and what job it went to. We would also have to deal with the usual preflight issues with fonts, images, resolution, and so on. All of this takes time, and we simply didn't have it with this compressed order cycle. Stress levels rose faster than gas prices.


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