An Inkjet Workflow Retrospective

By Pat McGrew / Published:

Many companies begin the year with a review of their current prices, their product lists, and their staffing needs. During the last two years that type of review has been challenging as we tried to guess how our customers would revive, how supply chains would impact our ability to produce products, and what employees would continue to be available. Despite the challenges, those reviews were essential to finding a path to continue to grow. For some companies that path included new investments.

Some companies invested in new inkjet hardware, either upgrading what they had or investing in inkjet as a new technology option for their environment. As exciting as those investments are, workflow is often missed as a way to optimize the investment. If you brought in new equipment and didn’t do a deep dive on your workflow, it’s never too late!

And, if you did do a workflow review, there is no time like the present to revisit your decisions. Just like your year-end accounting reconciling and reporting, a year-end workflow review can help you find the bottlenecks and inefficiencies that cost time and money. When these reviews become a standard part of your year-end processes, you build a history of your decisions and adjustments that can help you make the best decisions in the future.

Before you begin, take some time to look at the articles in this series from 2021. We covered a bit of strategy in our review of how to read forecasts and industry reports. It’s an essential skill to develop if you want to use market research to influence your buying decisions.

Take a long look at the discussions on imposition, ganging, and nesting. Compare the information in the articles to your current imposition workflow. Has it kept up with the capabilities of your presses? Make sure that you are accounting for your current printable area on your presses. You may find that you can create alternative imposition strategies to optimize the paper, and today that can be valuable!

Look back at the value you get from your document re-engineering, color management, file optimization, and other prepress solutions to ensure that you are using every available feature to make the most of your inkjet press. Optimizing the software you use unlocks the capacity that inkjet presses are known for!

Have you reviewed your estimating and job scheduling programs? If you moved from slower technology to the speed of inkjet, you may not be using the capacity you have available. But, before you jump into to taking on more work, review your actual cost of goods sold against the estimates your current programs produce. Compare the estimate to the actual and make any adjustments that might be needed to ensure you are hitting your margins.

Look at your connection points to your business management systems, your ERP and Print MIS as well as your invoicing systems. Review the processes that close the loop and ensure that work is invoiced appropriately. Review your change order processes.

All these considerations feed into an optimized workflow for the business and production. Once you’ve identified areas that might need to be optimized, look at the array of product offerings. Is your finishing equipment in alignment with what customers want to buy? Are you missing opportunities due to outdated solutions? Do the solutions you have on the shop floor participate in the job tracking dashboards that help everyone detect bottlenecks?

There is a lot to think about, and this is a great time to grab a beverage and review where you are to get ready for the coming year. Don’t forget to let me know you find and ask any questions! Please send me your thoughts.

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About the Author

Pat McGrew

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Pat is a well-known evangelist for inkjet productivity. At McGrew Group, she uses her decades technical and marketing experience to lead the industry toward optimized business processes and production workflows. She has helped companies to define their five-year plans, audited workflow processes, and developed sales team interventions and education programs. Pat is the Co-Author of 8 industry books, editor of A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge, and a regular contributor to Inkjet Insight and WhatTheyThink.com.

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