by Guy Broadhurst
When I left you last month I was still working through the decision about what to buy as a replacement for my old truck. I had found a dealership I liked and am now the proud owner of a new truck. Now, as I become familiar with the shiny new machine I'm amazed at the technology packed into a modern vehicle. I can get information on tire pressure, time elapsed on a trip, current and cumulative gas mileage, time to service and more. Then there's satellite radio, the back seat DVD player, the built-in BlueTooth hands-free phone system, and the connection for my MP3 player. Quite the list of options. Some of these seem trivial, but because so many of us spend so much time in our cars these days, such features really do make getting from Point A to Point B a lot easier and more enjoyable.
The latest models of digital presses should really qualify as HVPs, or Highly Versatile Presses.
Automobiles, of course, are the most technology-packed of all consumer products. While you may not be the car buff that I am, you're very likely familiar with a whole other range of technologies that are part of today’s print production marketplace. When integrated into your operation, these latest advancements make document production faster, easier, more reliable, more profitable, and play a role in securing your future.
Benefits of the HVP
Much as people buy various trucks and SUVs for their flexibility, the latest models of digital presses should really qualify as HVPs, or Highly Versatile Presses. Just as today's automobiles are more reliable and feature-rich than those of just five years ago, the latest digital presses and associated software are far more capable than their predecessors. They enable print providers to be more productive, work faster and more efficiently, often with less equipment. I've been in this industry for well over two decades and I have never seen the technology advance as quickly --and yield more real business benefits-- as it has in the past two or three years. While new equipment and software has usually offered some improvements over its predecessors, the gains have often been incremental, making it easy to take a wait-and-see approach to equipment acquisition. But the latest print engines and software available today are a significant leap forward.
The new benefits of the newer technologies provide an ideal opportunity to look beyond your customary equipment providers.
Modern monochrome production machines --both cut-sheet and continuous form-- comfortably span the worlds of transactional and commercial print, giving up nothing in print quality. Meanwhile, their color counterparts are producing a wide range of graphic arts applications everywhere from design studios to ad agencies to direct mail houses and even transactional service bureaus. This has opened the doors to new business opportunities for many print providers while hastening the rate at which applications are being transferred from offset to digital presses.
Beyond the familiar
The new benefits of the newer technologies provide an ideal opportunity to look beyond your customary equipment providers. When a lease is up the easy path is to simply replace a print engine with the latest version of the same machine. After all, you know how it works, your production staff is familiar with it and maintaining the status quo is within everyone's comfort zone. But is doing so a disservice to yourself and your business?
Whether you need equipment or software to replace or augment what you have today, it's vital to look beyond the familiar. Consider the range of choices available and seeing what other options could provide your operation with new capabilities or greater efficiencies. For example, industry expert Frank Romano recently noted on WhatTheyThink.com that some 80 percent of documents are duplexed, yet cut-sheet digital print engines have long been designed primarily as simplex printers. When tasked to print on both sides of a page, they usually run at about half their rated speed, limiting productivity and often demanding additional machines to meet production requirements. But there are new presses, like Océ's VarioPrint 6000 family, that are designed as duplex presses and image both sides of a page simultaneously, making them far more productive than an older generation printer. Customers who have made this transition are often reducing the number of presses they need and are also streamlining production on a wide range of applications.
Many of the latest equipment and software capabilities increase productivity, enhance efficiency and in many cases reduce the overall cost of doing business.
Or consider software. Most print providers use a mix of digital presses from two or three manufacturers. Each device usually has its own workflow, print queue, and other processes, requiring specific training and adding complexity and rigidity to production management in a busy printshop. Using an open, modular, equipment-independent workflow architecture, all machines can be operated using a single interface, regardless of manufacturer, datastream or page description language used. Based on business rules and job ticket information, jobs can be easily routed to the device with greatest availability or the one best suited for its requirements.
Just like the latest features in a new car, the latest equipment and software capabilities make life easier. They help increase productivity, enhance efficiency and in many cases reduce the overall cost of doing business. Before starting my new car search, I hadn't been paying much attention to the new technology available in cars today. As I learned about what I could have, and how it would make my life easier, I quickly selected the options that best fit my needs. The right mix of printing technology will have a similar, but far greater impact on your business. So when the time comes to evaluate the many options and choices available, look for the ones that will deliver the efficiency and productivity you need to move your business forward and help secure your future.
Give your feedback to Guy. He can be reached at [email protected].