Automation is quickly becoming one of the most integral parts of every industry. From robot telemarketers to self-driven cars and everything in between, automation is becoming an essential aspect of a contemporary business. While there are some industries within which individuals pride themselves on being artisans and not relying on any sort of automation, the time is quickly coming when automation, mechanization, computerization, and even robotics will in some way come to affect virtually every profession.
Instead of fearing the many ways that automation can be synchronized into business processes, learning how to make the most out of automation can allow for sustained competitiveness and maintaining the ability to stay at the forefront with the marketplace. The wide format printing industry, like most other industries in the world today, has begun a shift towards full automation, including the use of print finishing equipment and software.
How can embracing the changes that automation offers be beneficial for your business, and what are the challenges that this transition might entail? How can your business best prepare for those challenges in order to make the most out of the possibilities that come with automation within the wide format print industry?
Why Choose Automation?
For many people who have been in the printing industry for generations, it can be difficult to embrace changes to the way work can be accomplished. While the wide format printing industry has historically been considered to be craft-based, in that each job is unique and particular, there are still ways to allow automation to enter into this line of work without losing the special touches that can serve to define a business.
Automation in any industry usually vastly increases productivity and efficiency. With the wide format print industry continually increasing in competitiveness, automation will allow printing companies to greatly enhance their workflow. Allowing automation practices to optimize workflow, consequently, is one of the keys to long term profitability.
At the same time, automation can allow a company to take advantage of new software (more on that below) so that smaller, less technical jobs can be completed with minimal human intervention. This will allow more time to be spent on larger, more complex jobs that require unique cutting strategies which automation alone might not be able to address.
Some Challenges that Come with Automation
For people not used to working with computers and seemingly hard to understand software programs, accepting automation into the printing workflow can seem like a daunting task. One of the first questions for many people in the wide format printing industry is: “How can I use automation when each and every job is unique and different?”
Let’s say that you run a company that specializes in printing banners. Instead of sitting down with each client individually to plan out a unique design, color pattern, shape, etc., you could very easily use software to allow customers to choose from several pre-designed templates. Like those photograph printing machines at Walgreens which allow customers to crop and edit their own pictures, your customers would also be able to add text or images from their smart phones that they could upload, as well as using other design elements, before heading off to your print finishing equipment.
With the simple push of a button, a client’s wide format printing job could head off to the print finishing equipment without ever requiring employees to be involved. It can sometimes be a tedious task of helping frustrated customers. By freeing up time through automation, a production team can be allowed to dedicate more time to specialty jobs which require an artist’s touch of skill and which also bring in higher profits.
What to Automate?
If you feel that automation might be an important part of expanding your wide format printing business to increase sales and maximize your work flows, it is important to automate the entire production system and not just focus on mere bits and pieces of the process. There really is no middle ground here because automation of one part of the production process while maintaining traditional practices in other areas of production will only lead to confusion, differing qualities of job completion, and other problems. By choosing to automate from start to finish, it is possible to take full advantage of the efficiency and the increased quality of work flow.
The Future of Automation in Wide Format Printing
By choosing to automate your printing business today, you will be preparing yourself and your business for long-term success. As touched upon with regard to the points above, your business will obviously benefit from increased productivity and, thus, an increase in terms of its profit margin. Furthermore, however, you will also be preparing for the long run.
Technological changes are sure to continue to evolve in the years to come and by embracing (and not shying away from) these changes and learning the ropes of new automation technologies, you will be placing yourself at the forefront of the wide format printing business.