Wednesday May 04, 2016

4 reasons why large format printers need to “Switch” their focus

Topics: Automation

As we saw at the FESPA conference, there is a lot of excitement in the large format or sign and display market. The market is clearly growing, and providers are busy working on new opportunities and uncovering new markets to serve.

But this growth doesn't come easy. This growing market brings along additional challenges: increasing customer demands, more jobs to process, lower margins per job, faster delivery times, and more competition. And the challenges continue to grow.

So, can large format printers handle this new opportunity? The answer is definitely yes. But to succeed, they need to think differently and look at all the possibilities. This means exploring new technologies that can better serve their organisations.

This shift in focus can be a challenge for the large format printer, but it is a critical shift if they are to be successful. 

And to prove it, we’ll give you our top reasons to make the “Switch”.

1. There’s a new paradigm for large format printing

Large format printers are now operating in a new business climate. There’s more pressure from customers to produce shorter runs and provide faster turnaround times. In addition, customers expect that each job will maintain a high level of consistency from one order to the next.

On top of that, large format printers are also seeing increased competition, making them more concerned about pricing and margins than ever before.

When you factor in the cost of labour, and the impact of mistakes on expensive materials and ink, it can become very difficult for large format printers to be profitable.

The answer to these problems won’t come from adding another press. Conquering these mounting challenges requires an automated approach. 

2. Detecting and fixing small mistakes before they become big problems

With so much at stake for large format printers, even small errors can mean expensive rework. There is no margin for error.

Fortunately for large format printers, there is a way to avoid these mistakes. It’s called preflight. Using the right preflight software can find, correct, and eliminate many common mistakes before they enter your workflow.

The term preflight comes from the aviation industry and is the process of checking the plane before the flight (pre – flight) to make sure everything is OK and there will be safe flight and landing. Preflighting of PDF files has the same principle, files are checked before they are printed to be sure they are print-ready. This means that problems are found and corrected before they get into production. Even irritating problems – missing fonts, spot colours, transparency problems, drop shadows not appearing as they should and many more – don't slow down production.

Catching these mistakes early means huge savings in the key areas of ink, materials and – most importantly – time. Gaining time per job means the printer can produce more jobs in the same time. It also improves the level of customer service the printer is able to provide.

Want to read more about the value of preflighting? FESPA published a blog post that provides good prefight information for large format printers:

3. Realising the whole benefit of automation

Over the past few years, many large format printers have made significant investments in hardware. And while these investments have helped, they have not always produced the expected improvements in productivity or profits.

That's because every time there is a manual action on a file, the printer loses a part of their margin. And every time that file is waiting to be processed, the delivery time becomes longer. More importantly, when both of those factors are in play, customer service can also become a challenging, time consuming task.

But making investments in everything that happens before the job gets to the hardware – from the moment the client sends the file, to the moment the file is on the printing press – results in meaningful gains in productivity.

Prepress automation makes all of these processes more efficient. You can start by routing the file to imposition, to the RIP and then onto print. No one has to touch the job until it comes off the press.

There are automation features designed specifically for large format printers. For example, you can automate where to add grommets. Or you can even automate the grouping of jobs so that jobs that use the same material are grouped together – less switching materials over and over again at the press. And many more.

Once the job is complete, an automatic email can be generated to the sales team, the customer service team, even the client, letting them know the job has been completed.

Jobs flow through with fewer manual actions per file. This gives the large format printer a higher margin per job, shorter delivery times and better customer satisfaction.

28.03 Le Studio, based in Saint-Denis, France, is an example of what this type of automation can mean for large format printers. 

"Any repetitive task can be replaced by one Switch flow. For example, I can receive files via the FTP client, automatically include the relevant information in the file, and send it into production. The time saving is significant compared to manual transmission. Based on our operation, processing files with Switch is 10 to 15 times faster than manual processing, and the risk of error is greatly reduced.”

Emmanuel Branger, founder of 28.03 Le Studio


4. Automation works best when it works together

The fourth reason why large format printers should focus on software automation is because of the way the right solutions can build on each other. This means that your investment in technology is amplified throughout your whole organisation.

For example, Enfocus has formed partnerships with large format leaders Caldera and ONYX. These partnerships extend the value of our Switch workflow solution by connecting users to even more functionality, including enhanced communications, processes, and tracking.

To learn more about the value that automation can bring to your large format process, you can check out our ROI Calculator:

About Tim Bernaerdt

Tim Bernaerdt

Tim Bernaerdt joined Enfocus in 2013. As the Customer Success Manager, Tim and his team focus on creating a personalized and human experience for our customers.

Tim strongly believes that all companies in any kind of business can gain tremendously from automation and thus looks after the automation journey of the Enfocus customers.

Tim holds a master’s degree in physical education. In his spare time, you find him running or coaching youth basketball teams.

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