Ruggles points out that homegrown systems bypass the proprietary problems associated with mixing and matching computer management packages from various vendors, and allow printers to tailor systems precisely to their needs. However, homegrown systems take time to develop, and they don't come with documentation.
Perry Judd's, based in Waterloo, WI, once relied on a homegrown system for scheduling. Mark W. Karaffa, manufacturing systems manager for Perry Judd's, describes it as a haphazard creation. Since the system couldn't calculate in factors such as press speed based on type of work, the program showed every job on every press running at the same speed. This made long-term scheduling hard to judge accurately.
"We are a heatset web printer; we do a lot of publications, a lot of calendars," Karaffa says. "It's very important for us to load our plant months in advance—sometimes a year in advance."
Now, with the KEREN scheduling system from AHP Systems, Perry Judd's can sell future time slots and juggle work to get the most out of its web presses. "The KEREN scheduling system has given us the opportunity to forecast capacity fairly accurately," Karaffa says. "If we do start to see some bottlenecks, we can regroup our cost centers to see if by combining different types of work together we have a different capacity."
Intelligencer Printing, a $46 million commercial web and sheetfed printer in Lancaster, PA, also replaced a homegrown solution with a vendor's system. While the proprietary program had served the company well for more than 15 years, Intelligencer needed a solution that could move the company into the new millennium.
"We felt our system wasn't adequate anymore," says Steve Brody, president and CEO. "It wouldn't take us in the next century. It was not Year 2000 compliant, and we had doubts that it ever would be."