This quarter, Keypoint Intelligences’ Ryan McAbee, Director, Print Production Workflow shares our second 2021 newsletter about how to become a "smart print shop." Each quarter in 2021 we're introducing ways to enable and automate your smart print shop. This quarter it is 3 tips for optimizing your workflow. (See last quarter's 3 Tips for Empowering and Boosting your Customers’ Print Buying Experience here)
Ryan McAbee
Keypoint Intelligence / InfoTrends
RSA's website offers examples of customers that optimize customer files, and batch and manage output in the case studies section of our online resource center; one is mentioned below.

Until next time,
Elisha Kasinskas 
Marketing Director 
Rochester Software Associates, Inc 
3 Tips to Optimize Your Print Workflow 
Most print shops understand the benefits of automation—getting more work done with less labor. Automation works together with optimization where processes are streamlined and, if possible, combined. Think of automation as the fast lane on a racetrack and optimization as having fewer cars on that racetrack to decrease the likelihood of congestion and accidents.  

If you really want to get your jobs on the production fast track, here are three tips for ways to optimize your print workflow: 
1.  Optimize your customer’s files. 
Nothing will tax your workflow and staff quite like poorly created files. Challenging files add more touchpoints, take more time to process, and can cause processing issues at the digital front end (DFE) of the printer. Preflighting, like that offered by RSA’s Preflight Pro, can identify and correct many issues, but page editing or file restructuring might also be needed. Required steps may include: 

  • Conversion to a PDF 
  • Simplify and optimize PDFs for faster and more reliable RIP'ing and printing 
  • Font embedding 
  • Image enhancements and corrections, particularly from a scanned document 
  • Adding barcodes for finishing and mail equipment 
Ideally, file optimization is automated and can be repeated through a rules-based approach. With pre-built workflows to optimize incoming files, RSA's ReadyPrint Automatica can standardize the processing and save valuable operator time. 

The financial impact from optimization due to labor savings and more streamlined print production can be significant. In fact, recent research by Keypoint Intelligence estimates a yearly financial benefit of over $20,000 from automating file conversion and optimization. 
2.  Boost your batching.

One of the more overlooked ways to optimize print production is with batching or grouping of jobs based on similarity. Batching can be semi- to fully automated. Semi-automated batching allows the user to filter and sort work-in-progress jobs for grouping, then output. Fully automated batching is based on business rules that process incoming jobs. Whether semi- or fully automated, you decide the rules for processing and the order in which to apply them. For example, the first rule could be set to group by service level agreement (SLA)/due date, then by paper type before sending to the appropriate printer. At Pflugerville Independent School District, they auto-route jobs to available printers with the specific stocks and finishing options needed for a job. The district takes advantage of some of RSA's QDirect Output Management software features, releasing jobs in batches to target printers, and prioritizing production by due date. Ultimately, batching can benefit your print operation by: 

  • Maximizing equipment usage by combining jobs with similar press run characteristics like paper and ink/toner. Pflugerville ISD releases jobs based on the paper loaded in the paper tray, minimizing paper change over time.  
  • Optimizing material use by calculating the best equipment, based on format size and running costs, for the least amount of waste per sheet and over the entire press run. 
  • Saving labor costs by removing the time needed to manually build and plan the best production scenario. 
3. Manage your output.

The third optimization is to intelligently route jobs to an available printer that best fits the job requirements. Output management can increase equipment uptime by minimizing job changeover, control running costs by optimizing click charges, and save time by centralizing management of the entire operation. Enterprise output management can be as simple as load balancing work amongst similar printers, or it might involve more advanced job splitting (e.g., color vs. B&W pages or cover vs. text) for routing to the most cost-efficient and capable printer. Job management can be controlled in a similar semi- to fully automated method as batching using RSA's QDirect
Over the next few weeks, set aside some time to examine your automated workflow processes and seek opportunities to increase the effect by also using optimization techniques—this could bring greater levels of automation to your print operation. 

Contact RSA for additional tips about becoming a smart print shop or visit the solutions page of the RSA website to explore specific software solutions that optimize customer files, batch jobs and manage output. 
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Rochester Software Associates, Inc.