Commentary & Analysis
FREE: Graph Expo: Workflow, MIS and ERP Systems
by Gail Nickel-
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: October 8, 2003
by Gail Nickel-Kailing October 8, 2003 -- Amid the music, the PA-blasted presentations, the rumbling of equipment, the people, and the steam (steam?) was threaded the whisper: MIS, MIS, MIS… Now some of us call those print management systems or ERP systems or even workflow systems – but regardless of your term, the information systems that form the backbone of a printing business were a key part of Graph Expo 2003. DiMS! Organizing Print (www.dims.net) Seated on the low black marble edge of the fountain in the entrance of McCormick Place where we could watch the taxi line snaking through the door, Chris Wood, VP Sales and Marketing, filled me in on DiMS! latest announcements. DiMS! – which claims the pole position as the first company to provide a completely integrated management system package with a total, Web-enabled workflow and e-commerce integration – is an NGP Partner. Chris’s second piece of news was that the WS Packaging Group of Algoma, Wisconsin (I’ve even been to Algoma!), a provider of pressure sensitive labels, product packaging, commercial printing, creative promotions, and label application equipment, will be integrating DiMS! Organizing Print in 15 locations across the US. Prism-USA (www.prism-world.com) Running down the 5200 aisle, dodging booths the size of Texas, shouting “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date!” I finally resorted to dialing Carol Andersen, CEO, and asking for directions. “Turn around and wave!” Duh! NOW I feel like an idiot! We chatted about Prism WIN, a product for larger print operations with multiple plants and Prism Enterprise for small to medium printers and implants. Integrating with WIN is QTMS, a press monitoring and paper management application. The news for Enterprise is the inclusion of a new accounting system developed specifically for printers and interfaces to third party accounting systems for those who already have them. Radius Solutions (www.radiussolutions.com) Another day, another lost soul … or so David Taylor, President, must have thought when I was late for our appointment. Not only did he have news about Radius’ participation in the NGP Partners initiative, but also about Radius’ new VP of Operations, Jon Fennell. For something “new and different” Radius has released X-Link, a view into and out of Radius’ databases to facilitate integration with applications such as SAP Financials, CRM solutions by Pivotal, and supply chain products such as I2. And Radius Solutions plays in the big league! As I enjoyed chicken satay and a decent “house” wine at Radius’ open house Tuesday night, I heard all about Moore Wallace’s plans to install PECAS Vision in eight more sites for a total of eleven by the end of 2004. According to an IDC case study, “after attempts to use both a homegrown system and a generic ERP package, Moore Wallace decided to take a best-of-breed approach to its information technology needs and selected PECAS as its manufacturing solution.” The results? “PECAS Vision has allowed Moore Wallace to lower its cost per order and increase productivity.” If you’d like a copy of the case study, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Creo (www.creo.com) I had to look at my cab receipt twice before I realized what looked odd about it…it had Creo at the top. Now I’ve seen items ranging from java jackets to all kinds of tsatskes with logos before but never cab receipts! What an idea! Cool new stuff in the Creo booth for the packaging folks in the audience: Pandora – a PDF-based step-and-repeat packaging layout solution, an enhancement to Prinergy Powerpack called DigiCap to improve ink coverage, and new screening and imaging enhancements in the ThermoFlex family such as Raster Scaling, Maxtone hybrid screening, and HyperFlex. Internet portals have grown up! The Synapse InSite prepress portal provides remote job submission, proofing, collaboration, approvals, and workflow automation. InSite tracks job activity in the workflow management system and communicates with users online and with MIS systems using the Synapse Link interface. And after nurturing the Networked Graphic Production™ (NGP) initiative for two years, Creo is now just one of 27 (and growing) NGP partners who have taken on the task to make JDF interoperability real. EFI/Printcafe Software (www.efi.com, www.printcafe.com) While EFI and Printcafe are sorting out whether they are partners or the same company (deal to be closed later this month), the two companies - together and separately - lead the pack for the number of press releases distributed at the show! I’ve got one shoulder higher than the other now! EFI highlights: Heidelberg USA, EFI and Printcafe started the show off with an announcement of plans to collaborate on integrating Printcafe ERP software to Heidelberg presses through open JDF connections. At the same time, Heidelberg will be referring mid- to large-size printers to Princafe’s Hagen product in North American. Xerox and EFI have integrated DigiPath and Velocity Balance into a single workflow that can support any EFI Fiery- or Xerox DocuSP-driven output device, including members of the Xerox DocuTech, DocuColor, DocuPrint and Document Centre families. Velocity Balance 3.0 for can manage up to 16 print devices! (A little secret: Velocity OneFlow makes it possible to print MS Publisher, and MS Word files. Oops, did I say that?) A new line of Fiery print servers - Fiery S300 and Fiery S500 servers designed to drive mid-range and high volume print engines at full speed and the Fiery Q4500 for color production class engines and digital presses. Printcafe announcements: Printcafe’s PSI, Logic SQL, and Hagen are all “new and improved” with integrated sales force automation tools, fulfillment solutions, and dynamic scheduling. Hagen OA Version 7.5 even includes tax table import capabilities. What a great idea! PrintSmith now runs on Mac OSX and the new version 7.0 (now in beta) delivers a major redesign of the user interface. As printers look to add new value-added services, Printcafe offers PrinterSite Fulfillment (just going into beta testing). The company now has two integrated fulfillment solutions for users of Hagen and users of PSI and Logic SQL. PrinterSite Fulfillment offers a storefront catalog site, which gives printers control of the web interface and how products are merchandised and displayed, providing their customers online ordering of printed goods and services. New shop floor data collection applications for users of Logic SQL will soon be available to enable users to better track production and inventory: Paper Monitor, Web Stock Inventory, and Auto-Count 100N. An interesting thought: with the merger of EFI and Printcafe, the company will have to integrate customers using storefronts from five sources: PrintChannel, PrintSmith, PrinterSite Internal, Velocity Exchange, and TR Systems storefront! Printable Technologies In mid-August, I asked Coleman Kane, President/CEO, if Printable was shopping for acquisitions. As the discrete executive he is, Coleman never tipped his hand; “we’re always looking…” was his response. However, at the Expo Printable announced plans to acquire PrintReady from Extensis. Printable has been using PrintReady preflight file inspection, compression, and transfer technology to power its own preflight product, PrintFlight. Printable also announced a strategic partnership with Datalogics to deliver enhanced variable data composition capabilities through Printable's PrintFusion on-line customized print ordering application. It cuts turnaround times for composing, ordering and processing print jobs containing variable, or dynamic, data components, and streamlines production using templates and catalog ordering. Automatic data merging, copy-fitting and proofing of template-based materials allow end-customers to use the software to perform much of the formerly labor-intensive prepress operations, resulting in substantial time and cost savings for printers. In a turn-about from the Dot Com days, Printable is now offering its software in three new server editions: Data Center Server Edition for clients who prefer to have a dedicated server with tier one security hosted at Printable’s secure data center; Onsite Server Edition to be installed on a customer's own servers at their location; and Enterprise Server Edition for large enterprise clients who mandate that any technology of this type must be behind their company firewall. With a number of co-sponsors, Printable once again hosted the PrintPlanet Mingle. “Uncle Dave” Mainwaring, who “herds cats” on the PrintPlanet forums, mingled and “pressed the flesh” with nearly 500 of the forum’s closest friends. A good time was had by all! Syskoplan Inc./SAP America Syskoplan, this year’s Expo ingénue, is serious about the print industry! Offering Print.IT built on SAP’s All-in-One Business Suite, Syskoplan brings strategic business technology such as ERP, supply chain, and CRM to small and medium-sized printing plants. Patti Nagle, President, Syskoplan North America, announced a new customer: ANRO Printing based in Philadelphia. ANRO, a family-owned company, is a supplier of commercial printing, direct mail, and fulfillment solutions. Founded 50 years ago by Angelo and Rose Rossi, the company now has 200 employees. As an added treat and to promote Activity-Based Costing, Syskoplan hosted a book-signing by authors David Dodd and Bill Lavelle, Point Balance, offering their book Activity-Based Costing For Printers: An Implementation Guide. WAM!NET/SAVVIS Janice Reese, WAM!NET Director, Print & Publishing, and I took a window seat to catch up on the latest developments, including the company’s participation in PODi. WAM!NET supports storing and delivering XML-based instructions, such as PPML, along with data files. Rather than leaving the printing and publishing industries behind in the merger, WAM!NET is helping SAVVIS target the entertainment industry, corporate and creative markets, and printing and publishing. Vio I learned some interesting things from Alan Darling, EVP Sales and Marketing, and Richard Horwood, Executive Chairman. This company is seriously targeting the US market! Richard has now moved across the “big pond” to New York to help Alan grow Vio as fast as possible. LMS Capital, the venture capital arm of London Merchant Securities plc, has invested an additional $3 million to allow Vio to significantly expand its U.S. operations and to reach new markets in Europe and Asia-Pacific. We also talked about Vio’s latest acquisition - Portland PMS, a digital asset systems integration company, offering ad delivery, asset management and systems integration capabilities.