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Ask the Experts: Eliminating the Bottleneck

Where should shops focus their workflow improvements?

We asked six digital print specialists to respond to the current state of the industry and reveal what we should expect in 2017.

Big Picture: What are you seeing as the largest bottleneck in the printing process? What do you think manufacturers are doing to eliminate that congestion? What can shops do themselves?

Steve Urmano, Director of Wide Format, InfoTrends: Finishing is clearly the area that bottlenecks occur as cutting, trimming, and creating a finished product require this. Further to this, moving printed pieces on and off a cutting table and prepping a file take critical attention and require more skill than printing.

Mark Hanley, President, I.T. Strategies: There are fewer and fewer real bottlenecks these days as analog technology constantly improves; analog is often underestimated as a competitor to digital. The opening for digital is really the ability to match print content to fragmenting and fast-cycling consumer/user demand. That’s what analog cannot do in real time and is the heart of print value. Print technology development is part of this (the aqueous inkjet issues mentioned above, for example), but this also involves the print industry offering fully digital communication services based on data management, of which print may be the highest value component. But it also requires users and brand owners to adapt their supply chains to leverage this enhanced communication capability. That’s a major infrastructural issue not in the control of print providers.

Sean Smyth, Print Consultant, Smithers Pira: Printing is usually the simple bit. It’s the workflow, including administration of orders, that’s usually the bottleneck. Handling large numbers of low-value orders is a significant challenge to companies used to processing a few orders. They need to develop low-touch and no-touch systems for business process and prepress workflows, with high levels of automation widely available.

Get more expert insight on the state of wide format, expanding sectors of print, the reality of single-pass printing, digital marketing for PSPs, profiting from print, and standing out in a crowded market.

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