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Technique debuts several new MIS products

Press release from the issuing company

(May 28, 2008) Drupa 08 is particularly exciting for Technique with the introduction of 2 brand new products to the MIS suite and one major update.

"Customer Portal" is a browser based web portal application that provides a rich customer experience, allowing an on-line request for quote that is fully integrated into estimating with no rekeying of data. Customers can convert quotes to orders with an easy to use wizard. The Portal allows instant pricing for one off and contract work together with real-time job tracking from estimate to delivery including all work in progress. One of the major complaints from print buyers is the time it takes to get a quotation. This is largely due to the estimating department having to collect RFE's from various sources and re-key the (invalidated) data. By using a tightly integrated RFE process (which is seamlessly linked to the Technique CRM), estimators do not waste valuable time re-keying data and are able to increase their efficiency dramatically. In addition to this, as numerous surveys have revealed, typically the first printer to respond to a RFE has a very high probability of obtaining the order. This rapid turnaround capability in Technique's MIS, coupled with polished, professional-looking quotes (generated with XML and XSL) can dramatically increase the printer's win/loss ratio.

"Business Intelligence" is another brand new application providing easy access to real-time key performance indicators. The application (using Microsoft's ubiquitous SQL Reporting Services technology) permits the creation of intuitive dynamic drill down reports, executive dashboards and score cards. Ease of report and dashboards customization for end-users is provided out of the box along with user configurable subscriptions. The ability to subscribe to a report and have it delivered by e-mail, in a variety of formats, and on a regular basis means timely access to information with no interaction required by the recipient. Such capabilities allow key decision to be made in a timely manner based on recent, up-to-date data. A suite of numerous multi-lingual reports (using the same translation engine as all other Technique MIS applications) are provided with the application.

Significant Updates
Technique will be showing its Quarter two release of existing products with numerous improvements across the suite.

"Data Collection 2.0" is an update to Technique's industry-leading DMI (Direct Machine Interface) Data Collection solution, which has enjoyed huge market penetration. Increased capabilities include improved flexibility in handling complex and multiple deliveries, input / output logic configuration through web browser interface, tracking of copies and waste at any point in the delivery. With the extensive range of configurable delivery routes and counters, it is possible to measure how many copies were produced off press, how many were lost in delivery, how many inspection copies were removed, etc. Such accurate counts mean an end to overruns that are commonly produced because there is no confidence about the actual number of good copies being delivered to the bindery. In addition the data store has been optimized for improved speed of interrogation and reporting. New factory dashboards are now available, which can be viewed internally or remotely via a web-browser, give real-time plant-wide visibility.

 "Contract Management 3.0" provides unparalleled control over contractual pricing. Technique's contract management is unique within the industry. Whereas most other systems require a price to be produced from a disconnected price list and then require creation of an estimate in order to get the job into production, the Technique system allows a CSR to create an order from a contract without ever leaving Order Management. All versioning can then be applied in Order Management and an estimate is produced automatically in the background. This workflow provides massive savings over traditional systems where the estimating department has to then build an estimate to get the job into production (JDF generation and scheduling). Furthermore, these systems force the estimating department to get involved every time the specifications change, which is common on virtually every job in the newspaper and periodical arena. With Technique, and specification changes, production configuration changes can all be carried out in order management and the final price represents the contractual price of the final product configuration. In addition to creation of orders from contracts, commercial estimates can also be produced for a contract. This allows a wide range of products to be estimated with contractually agreed pricing. The minute the estimate is produced, the estimator is able to see the estimated costs vs. the contract pricing.

"Estimating 3.0" The latest version of Technique's estimating system has major improvements in the sheet-fed and multi-web areas. Sheet-fed print routes now allow multiple components to be ganged on the same sheet and full control over multi-pass working. The user is able to define which version and which inks will be combined in each pass and the system will present every possible press configuration where the job can be run, complete with pricing. Many of the estimating systems on the market today require multiple estimates to be able to compare different production routes or are limited to comparison across 2 or 3 presses. The Technique system is able to compare all configurations of all presses at all sites at the click of a button.

Multi-web and cold-set web printers are well-accommodated, with support for multiple reel stands per press and up to 8 webs per section.
Improved integration with the Sales Enquiries (RFE) dramatically reduces the amount of re-keying by estimators and ensures that data is validated prior to submission. All RFE's are automatically fed to estimating and the sales person or customer can see whether their enquiry has yet to be started, is in progress or is complete and the quote produced.

"Updated Scheduling" also sports a number of significant improvements. When linked to Order Management and Estimating, the estimating resources standards are used to recalculate the duration of the job when moved between resources. Not only does the system check if the job can be run on the target resource, it will calculate the new setup and running time taking into account planned downtime based on the efficiency of the estimating resources. Integration with Techniques Data Collection is improved, allowing production standards to be set, which target the operators to run more efficiently than the estimated values. This alone results in dramatic savings in press time and paper wastage. The real-time feedback directly on the Scheduling board allows the planner to see the precise process of the job without ever setting foot on the production floor. Resource constraints have also been added allowing unlimited resources (e.g. lead operators, press towers and movable equipment such as imaging heads, UV coaters, etc.) to be defined as constraints and assigned to jobs. Should the planner ever accidentally overlap two tasks using the same constraints, he will be warned that a constraint violation has occurred. Furthermore, real-time events from prepress and 3rd party systems allow the planning board to be updated based on external events. Common event views include plates made and proofs approved in pre-press. With this view the pre-press department can see a real-time view of the schedule board and which jobs are approaching press time that have neither proofs approved or plates made. This allows them to prioritize their jobs based on the real-time status of the plant. A planner would work from a similar view, but with the addition of an event to indicate when paper is available. Once all three events are satisfied, the task will turn green on the planning board indicating that it is ready to go on press.

In addition to the improvements within Scheduling, Technique now offers an industry-leading, extremely rich, open XML interface to the scheduling module. Intended for printers with home-grown or legacy applications that want to integrate with Technique's Scheduling application, the interface supports everything from job and customer info, down to support for task and order updates, events from external systems and scheduling of multi-task and multi-stream operation.

Agfa and Technique will jointly demonstrate an unprecedented level of productivity between print buyers and prepress. Using the Technique Customer Portal, a customer can submit a request for quote. Once this has been submitted and priced, the customer can confirm the order electronically, which will then create an order in Technique MIS. As soon as the order is created, a project is created in Apogee Portal's Project Manager using JDF and the customer is e-mailed with a hyperlink for immediate upload of content. This streamlined workflow cuts out a tremendous amount of internal administration and cost, as well as delivering more responsive service to the print buyer. Demonstrations of the integration can be seen on the Agfa stand (Hall 8a) and the Technique stand (Hall 7a / D14)