By Melissa Donovan
Print shops looking to enhance efficiency should look no further than their existing software solutions. Some RIPs offer plugins or add-ons that are business and/or production tool orientated, for example helping a shop with quoting, job tracking, and invoicing. Essentially, a print service provider (PSP) generates extra benefits from a solution that is already in place.
Above: Analytical and production tools available as add-ons or plugins to RIPs drive efficiencies in a print shop, including solutions from EFI.
Leveraging software solutions with multiple tools—like RIPs built with business- and production-based features—presents a PSP with many advantages.
Sebastien Hanssens, VP marketing and operations, Caldera, admits that print providers are constantly looking to improve productivity or manage some element of business that will alleviate challenges. It makes sense that a RIP play a role in this.
“The RIP is becoming more than the software component to drive a printer and manage colors. The fact is that the RIP captures a lot of data regarding the jobs being printed. By connecting this printing data with other solutions used for accounting, customer relationships, or enterprise resource management, you start to create better dashboards and methods to manage a successful company,” he continues.
Software solutions that integrate seamlessly with an existing RIP enable a PSP to be profitable and efficient. “Pulling rich data directly from a RIP provides an immediate benefit to print providers looking to save ink, reduce media waste, and become as lean as possible—especially during difficult times,” adds Jonathan Rogers, international marketing manager, Onyx Graphics, Inc.
Analytic and production tracking tools are like an “unbiased advisor that distills key performance metrics from the frantic activity on the floor,” says Andy Brint, Fiery enterprise solutions director, EFI. He points out there are few downsides to cloud-based products that “passively monitor printer and operator performance in a way that does not add overhead.”
“Quite simply, these tools streamline administrative processes that ultimately mean print providers can make operations more efficient. For PSPs operating commercially with several customers, any business tool that streamlines the management of projects and saves time has to be an asset worth looking at,” recommends Michelle Johnson, director of marketing, SA International (SAi).
Meeting Customer Needs
There is demand for business or production tools that are part of a RIP. PSPs like familiarity, so if they are already using one solution, it makes sense to work within the same family of products.
No PSP wants to waste time on mundane tasks. “Businesses want to concentrate efforts on selling their expertise and driving activities to actually increase production. Administrative tasks, while necessary, take attention away from this,” says Johnson.
“The new generation of printer operators were brought up with technology and know how to use it. They realize that technology and software add-ons can help them be more effective,” notes Hanssens.
“Production managers want visibility into their operations without being physically on the floor. Business owners who need to know actual costs of prints, true ink coverage, capacity, and utilization are all prime candidates,” explains Brint.
Demand also comes from customers. “Print providers are looking for business intelligence tools to meet the evolving needs of print buyers that require them to do more with less,” offers Rogers.
Many tools are offered on a subscription basis, enabling software manufacturers to easily roll out updates and new add ons.
Rogers advises PSPs to first look at the business needs for tools and data, then choose the solution that will help them achieve these goals before selecting a product.
Examples of add-ons available for RIPs include quoting, tracking, generating invoices, and job costing.
Automated solutions help PSPs achieve greater efficiencies in the workflow. This is especially true when it comes to an add-on or plugin to an existing RIP. The benefits are paramount, even if an additional expense is incurred.
Sep2020, Digital Output