Workflow and Waste

medium_2015_Laurel B.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

When we are out and about working with Digital Dots consulting clients, we spend an inordinate amount of time explaining workflow management. But rarely do clients ask about reducing environmental impact, which can be one of the major outcomes of a well-managed workflow. Not only does an efficient and automated workflow get jobs faster to press, it can also cut wasted time, materials, energy, whilst also improving capacity utilisation. All of this increases margins on jobs, which gives a positive boost to a printing company’s bottom line.

Workflow automation should be a no brainer for businesses, but especially for companies who want to cut their carbon footprints. Take energy, which in the printing business is a major contributor to costs. The longer a job stays in production, the more energy is required to finally get it printed. Poorly configured workflows mean that jobs take longer, bouncing around between print buyers and prepress staff. Identifying and making corrections, having new PDFs made, getting images and colours fixed, jobs being reimposed because they miss their output slots on press B and instead have to be routed to press C, and so on and on.

And then there are the potential savings in staff time, particularly all the argybargy of communications with customers, back and forth, around and around. We tend to look at environmental impacts as something separate from business management and process control. Yet the two are inextricably linked.

Understanding the link is perhaps the first and hardest step for many print service providers. However understanding the link may not matter so much, if the improvements in margins are recognised. Digital prepress using standard platforms, which really started to get going in the 1980s, forced many printing firms and the technology providers who served them, to the wall. Both groups had either to dump their proprietary and bespoke production models or get with the PostScript and PDF programmes. It wasn’t a happy time for many companies, but it forced efficiencies that made the industry far leaner, less wasteful and more efficient. The environmental impact benefit was massive, even though we didn’t appreciate it until years later. There is still huge capacity to cut environmental impacts through process automation and enhanced workflow control.

If history is any guide, having control over workflow, production processes and environmental impact will be the differentiator in an industrial sector that still suffers from over capacity and squeezed profits.

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, Fujifilm, HP, Kodak, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

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