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CIM In Action -- Awaiting the Big Payoff

November 2004
By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) is to return on investment (ROI) what exercise is to weight loss.

In the latter scenario, the early stages of a new workout program can be quite transforming. It only takes a couple of days at the gym to notice a difference in the way you feel—the air seems fresher, the body feels invigorated and experiences more energy in the beginning and the end of the day. Even after just one week of intense weight lifting and cardiovascular training, one's body can feel like a million bucks.

But after one week, don't step on a scale. Chances are, the machine will say that your hard workouts are lies, all lies! Your weight loss ROI likely will be zero, and there's a good chance you will actually pack on a pound or two.

So the question is, are there benefits here that can't be quantified? Most certainly. And it stands to reason that a sustained exercise program will eventually lead to better results on the scale.

Apply the same principles to CIM and ROI and the similarity can be seen. Some, but not all, printers that have taken the JDF/CIP4 highway to CIMville can boast of a tangible return. But virtually every printer can speak of the benefits from process integration.

"The industry has to take a longer term view on this," notes Michael Murphy, president of Japs-Olson in St. Louis Park, MN, which is an associate member of CIP4, the International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress. "Our industry as a whole needs to say that (CIM) is good for the industry. It's giving us vital data about each step of the process and each area of our company that we need to manage more efficiently. I really think of CIM as the base level from which the industry is going to become more efficient overall."

Dean Fairley, executive vice president with JohnsByrne Co. of Niles, IL, notes that his company has been on the CIP3/PPF come JDF train for two years and believes a lot of the CIM criticism is unwarranted and unfair.

"If you think about it, you're looking at a two-year-old child," he says. "As it continues to develop and mature, we see continual enhancements, integration and improvement at each step along the way.

"We obviously wish the technology providers were moving a little faster, but they're not. In the meantime, you utilize everything you can do today," Fairley says.
 

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