Commentary & Analysis
Tapping into Production Intelligence
By Julia Mowry February 2,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: February 2, 2006
By Julia Mowry February 2, 2006 -- As print service providers look for additional ways to squeeze more productivity out of their operations, the production processes themselves can offer some of the greatest untapped potential. For a long time, the focus has been on applying technology to solve certain application challenges, like use of lightweight paper, conditional inserts, and digital color. Now that these problems have been addressed, and as print operations become more business-driven, they have a greater need to know more about how well they are actually using the technology and how processes can be optimized for greater performance. Historically, this type of information has been difficult to obtain across the entire document production workflow and across multiple output devices. Production Intelligence systems can help organize operational data, enhance analytics capabilities and translates into real value Increasingly, organizations are turning to Production Intelligence to better understand and control their document processes. Production Intelligence systems can help organize operational data, enhance analytics capabilities and translates into real value by helping users to: * Integrate and modify workflow easily and affordably as customer requirements increase or change. * Implement an "any to any" system without excessive translation effort and cost * Manipulate workflow without placing a burden on IT resources * Simplify and optimize production management * Identify a problem and a plan before a situation becomes an emergency * Capture and use information across the total enterprise production process, not just printing Best Use of All Equipment Most production environments have not one, but multiple printer platforms, along with a variety of data streams, sources, and production and finishing requirements. Rarely do any of these islands ever connect in a way that provides actionable information or cohesive data gathering. They lack true production intelligence and the resulting power and clarity it brings to business decisions. Device-centric workflow approaches don't address this; production intelligence does. Given today's competitive and time pressures, print providers want to make the best possible use of all their equipment. The ideal scenario is any job to any device, but until now, this has been an impractical reality. A single workflow with a single point of control for managing all the equipment in different print environments is the optimal solution for multi-vendor production operations, especially when the document process extends beyond just printers to include inserting and finishing, even shipping. The ideal scenario is any job to any device, but until now, this has been an impractical reality. A PI solution can be based on a single point of control for managing all the equipment in different print environments with any-to-any workflow. When any job can run on any printer, companies can make the best possible use of all their equipment, no matter which vendor supplies it. The result is better workflow integration across an entire process, not just at the printing stages. Better Business Decisions Many stakeholders can benefit from greater production intelligence, from the sales person evaluating true customer value to the CFO who demands more insightful cost analysis. As print providers consider new business from internal or external customers, PI helps them understand how much more the operation can handle and anticipate the precise production hit of a new customer. PI can help print providers understand how much more the operation can handle and anticipate the precise production hit of a new customer. For example, Emtex has PI solutions that capture data about daily production activities across all the steps of job workflow, and turn this into actionable information and structured business reports. A simple two-step scanning process at the beginning and end of the workflow tracks and compares what was defined to what actually occurred. Along the way, the software collects data about bottlenecks, piece cost analysis, downtime, errors and more. As a result, managers gain a much more significant picture of their operation. Print Intelligence puts vital information at users' fingertips anytime, anywhere, so they can solve problems, respond to issues, and handle the unexpected. Typical examples of how PI can contribute to business intelligence include: * Reduced phone calls to check on status or solve problems, so staff is not distracted from more productive work * Quantifiable information for operations managers about how vendors are meeting their SLAs * Increased profitability through improved ability to spot inefficiencies, bottlenecks and underused resources * Production numbers, utilization and efficiencies made available on demand for real-time business decisions * Better anticipation when additional time is needed for a job * Clearer understanding of where schedules slipped when a deadline is missed In a tough market where every advantage counts, Production Intelligence systems can help commercial and corporate printers can unleash greater productivity from their existing processes. Please provide feedback, suggestions or comments to Julia at Please provide feedback, suggestions or comments to Rosemarie at firstname.lastname@example.org.