Welcome to 2017! It’s a new year full of options and opportunity. If you are a print professional it’s time to become the wizard of workflow! If you buy print, this is a great time to expand your knowledge so that you can have great conversations with your print providers. But, before we dive in to helping you to become a wizard of workflow, let’s start with what will be cool this year.
If you are a printer you should be asking your hardware suppliers about data. Not just any data. Your data. Many of them have new programs that will help you identify how efficient your hardware is, where you might be able to squeeze out more capacity, and how you compare to others who have machines like yours. While no two print environments are the same, there is a lot to be learned by comparing your efficiency against similar types of print shops. Some will even monitor the data so that they can maintain your machine before it breaks. The upside for a print shop is that it can help to identify where the bottlenecks might, if operators need more training to become more efficient, and even it might be time to move to a new platform. In 2017 more hardware vendors are offering data options, and if your vendor is one of them, ask them about it!
Online Design Tools are emerging from their niche and growing their user communities. If you are struggling with old design tools and aren’t in the mood to sign on for Creative Cloud or similar solutions, take a look at products like Chili Publish, Silicon Publishing Designer, Tweak Print, Infigo MegaEdit and others. Most give you options for creating single and multipage documents and commercial projects, and some have options for setting up print for promotional items. Many we’ve seen have the full complement of editing tools, while others are more restricted, but over time expect to see these tools become a true viable alternative to desktop tools for many commercial print needs.
Are you using white inks, foil, raised printing, or specialty cutting to enhance your print jobs? It looks like the cavalcade of solutions that we saw in market last year will continue to grow as more print providers acquire Scodix and MGI machines for foil and other print enhancement, and also look at adding high-tech cutting and creasing options like the Highcon Euclid or Beam. For print providers, if you don’t have access to these solutions, see if there is someone you can partner with to try it out! For print buyers, it’s a differentiator! You are going to see these solutions everywhere before the end of the year.
Are you handling any kind of packaging? Folding cartons or POP displays? Flexible packaging or even corrugated packaging? Start to think in terms of what you can do with digital in 2017. There are options for protoyping with A/B/C/D testing using digitally-produced packages that can go reliably into the market. There are options for making display packaging more interesting and even solutions for creating reactive campaigns using the power of short-run digital solutions. Jump on board this train as fast as you can!
Happy New Year!
Pat McGrew is the Director and Evangelist for the Production Workflow Service at KeyPoint Intelligence/InfoTrends. As an analyst and industry educator, Pat works with InfoTrends customers and their clients to promote workflow effectiveness. She also has a background in data-driven customer communication, and production printing with offset, inkjet and toner. Co-author of 8 industry books, editor of A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge, and regular writer in the industry trade press, Pat won the 2014 #GirlsWhoPrint Girlie Award for dedication to education and communication in the industry, and the 2016 Brian Platte Lifetime Achievement Award from Xplor International. Find Pat on Twitter @PatMcGrew and on LinkedIn.