PSPs and Workflow Optimization: A Problem with Productivity
The print industry is experiencing a notable sea change. Print service providers (PSPs) are seeing a major shift from larger jobs to smaller, more frequent runs, as well as on-demand digitally printed jobs. Margin pressures prove to be an additional challenge as labor and materials costs continue to increase. While navigating the choppy waters of this industry shift, many PSPs are looking to their print process and finding their legacy methods are less efficient and unnecessarily costly. As margins continue to shrink and customer demands increase, it is imperative for PSPs to analyze every stage of the print production process to ensure that it’s fully optimized in the face of these changes.
Changing Print Jobs, Changes in Productivity
By and large, there can be misconceptions surrounding what to focus on when analyzing the print process. When looking at document production costs, many PSPs still focus on the final printed “cost per page” for ink or toner on paper. Yet a greater percentage, more than 54% of total costs, are associated with the preproduction portion of the job. As smaller and more frequent runs become an ever-predominant source of revenue in the print industry, PSPs recognize that making the preproduction portion of their total workflow more efficient can drive significant benefit in terms of cost reduction, cycle time reduction and ability to be flexible.
A 2016 InfoTrends survey titled “The True Cost of Business Communications,” echo these conclusions. PSPs identified the biggest issues with their current workflow as connecting islands of automation, dealing with a high number of small jobs, and managing multiple workflows. In addition, the top three technical bottlenecks PSPs identified correlate to the main activities in the preproduction portion of the workflow — the portion equating to 54% of total costs.
PSPs understand they must change the way they think about improving their print process. Instead of focusing on the production process itself, printers must take a step back and look at how their current business communications and prepress infrastructure is helping or hurting their quest to effectively adapt to the changing industry.
This kind of print production analysis is not a standalone process. Rather, it is a dynamic, cyclical process that calls for methodological, sustainable solutions, allowing PSPs to continue to improve efficiency in the face of future changes. It may be difficult for printers to have the distance and subjectivity needed to discern their most pressing improvement priorities.
Kodak WPA: A Tailored Solution
In working with its customers, Kodak PRINERGY noticed that PSPs were looking for ways to leverage and make the most of their workflow software. Thus, the Kodak Workflow Process Analysis (WPA) was born to help PSPs identify needed areas of improvement and help them find sustainable, ongoing solutions to optimize their printing process.
The Kodak WPA Process involves a three-phase, formal methodology for collecting, analyzing and presenting identified areas of improvement. The process is tailored specifically for the PSP and its unique business needs and priorities, which are identified via phase one: Discovery. During Discovery, Kodak sales managers and workflow consultants direct a robust on-site process working closely with key stakeholders such as prepress administrators, client service managers, and directors of operations, helping PSPs find solutions to their most pressing bottlenecks while increasing throughput and cutting overall production costs.
Kodak’s team then uses the information gathered on-site to implement phase two: Analysis. This phase involves a thorough off-site analysis, where opportunities for improvement are identified. The 2-3-week analysis culminates with phase three: Delivery, through which Kodak’s team presents their findings and proposed solutions to the PSP.
From proposed process workflows to implementation recommendations, PSPs will receive a tailored solution demonstration that provides them with clear next-steps for improving the efficiency and success of their commercial or packaging print business.
Kodak’s WPA process does not end there. Rather than a one-off audit, the WPA functions as a dynamic and continual solution, allowing PSPs to stay agile and adaptive in the face of customer demands and industry change.
Discerning Metrics, Finding Results: A Case Study
For a large commercial printer and Kodak PRINERGY customer, the Kodak WPA process proved to be a critical means of increasing revenue and productivity. With an annual revenue of $16M and 120 employees, this commercial printer has four sheetfeed presses, two offset presses and a Kodak Nexpress 2500 Digital Production Color Press. Kodak’s workflow consultants visited this PSP and after observation, they provided the PSP with a thorough analysis and actionable plan.
Through the implementation of the improvements proposed by the Kodak WPA Process, the PSP saw noteworthy results, including:
- Spoilage reduced on press with potential savings of $50,000 per year
- 20 labor hours per week saved, equating to approximately $27,500 on an annual basis
- Number of operators allocated to producing plates while running the digital press reduced, in turn surpassing the operation capacity of typical printers with 10 to 14 operators on staff
- Printer posts well below the commonly held standards of most commercial printers; 0.7-0.9 LH/P
- Job cycle time reduced from three to four days to only four hours, while achieving higher levels of service
This PSP, like many others who benefited from the Kodak WPA Process, understand that success is a result of having a thorough knowledge of their unique workflow process, and recognizing the touch points and bottlenecks associated with each step. Working with Kodak and their leading workflow automation software, this PSP was able to find dynamic, adaptive solutions that helped meet the demands of shifting market conditions.
Putting it All Together
In this new era of commercial print, PSPs are watching their metrics of success dramatically shift as demands change. To transcend the threat of shrinking margins while job tickets increase and runs decrease in length, PSPs must take a step back and analyze every step of the printing process – including before and after the document is created. It may seem like a tall order, but PSPs don’t have to do it alone. With an analysis like the Kodak WPA Process, PSPs can transcend costly, inefficient bottlenecks while delivering the quality work their customers expect from them.
To learn more about the Kodak WPA Process and how it’s helping PSPs get to the next level, download Kodak’s free e-book: “Breaking Bottlenecks: Using the Kodak WPA Process to Recognize Opportunity in Your Workflow”.