Welcome to the Soft(ware) Parade
At this year’s PRINT 17, a trend has reached critical mass: an emphasis on software over hardware as a major driver of higher productivity and automation. We could possibly consider this a “Software PRINT,” given the extent to which software is taking center stage as a way for print service providers to get the most out of the hardware they have been investing in.
“The continued trends around automation—whether it be the removal of touch points, reduction in waste, and decrease in human error—focuses on the upside of improved productivity and profitability,” says Barb Willans, Senior Director, Portfolio Marketing, EFI Productivity Software (Booth 2302). “Customers are also looking for ways to optimize their current business management systems in order to maximize their investments, and also look for ways to leverage them into new areas of opportunity. Both of these require education and professional services to determine the best course of action.”
As a result, EFI is showcasing version 5.0 of its six Productivity Suites for commercial print and packaging:
- Midmarket Print Suite
- Enterprise Commercial Print Suite
- Quick Print Suite
- Packaging Suite
- Corrugated Packaging Suite
- Publication Print Suite
Each of these suites is scalable, with a MIS/ERP or manufacturing system at its core to fulfill key business management processes through certified workflows, as well as scale to specific shop requirements and new revenue areas: scheduling, estimating, shop floor data collection, ecommerce and marketing tools, third-party prepress integration, supply chain and transportation management, and so on.
EFI is also demonstrating the Productivity Workbench, a one-click live dashboard for each Suite. The Workbench information consolidation connects multiple EFI systems (MIS/ERP and component systems for web-to-print, shop-floor data collection, shipping, etc.), gathering real-time data with “ContextSense” links back into the system, and providing visibility and accountability in a live dashboard. The variety of Workbench widgets can be customized to display the information most critical to an individual user, helping win more business, more efficiently and more profitably.
Another hot area at this year’s PRINT is packaging, and EFI has added new features to its Packaging and Corrugated Packaging Suites for tag, label, and carton production, as well as for corrugated packaging.
The EFI Corrugated Business System (CBS) operates as a single-interface web application for fast-spec definition, so users can dynamically build their orders earlier in the process while using a database shared with the Corrugated Packaging Suite’s core manufacturing execution system (MES). It includes several modules/processes, including customer management, work center management, inventory and shipping management, order promising, capacity planning, data collection, and forecasting. The Suites also include EFI iQuote, an automated estimating, quoting, and job planning tool, for tag, label, and folding carton, and EFI Metrix for cartons and labels.
EFI is also showcasing the FS300 Pro, and the just-launched Command Workstation 6. EFI is also previewing updates to Command Workstation that will be appearing later this fall, including Command Workstation driving any Fiery-driven devices, whether it’s a traditional cut-sheet toner document printer, a high-speed inkjet, or EFI’s Nozomi corrugated printer. It can also be the main job management interface driving Fiery-driven wide-format display graphics devices like EFI’s ceramic printing systems, or textile and soft signage printers. “For the first time, you could have one common job management interface that can connect to any Fiery-driven printer, and through the same interface you can do all job management functions,” says John Henze, VP, Marketing, EFI Fiery.
EFI is also showing the updated version of its learning platform, Fiery Global University.
EFI is taking a different product display approach at this year’s show. “We won’t be showcasing engines, but we’ll instead provide a showcase of all the different kinds printing that can be produced.”