Integration is the Name of the Game
Remember when the Internet was getting its commercial feet wet back in the early ‘90s; it was referred to as the Information Superhighway. Well, there’s probably not too much debate that it hasn’t lived up to this billing. The amount of information at our fingertips (literally) is simply flabbergasting (just checked www.meriamwebster.com to make sure this word was right).
Well, the superhighway has spawned a world of highways and byways, and if your company isn’t on one of them, you’d better be looking over your shoulder so your horse and buggy doesn’t get run over. Today, the nimble use of information can be used as a key differentiator to help your company stand above the crowd. In the future, however, it will be a requirement, and without it, your company could be in a futile chase trying to catch up with the competition.
Companies that make their living by providing business and production software systems for the package-printing marketplace have a common theme when discussing what is taking place in this arena—integration. Information is available and is flowing throughout virtually the entire range of functions that are required to run a printing company. This not only includes management information, but more and more, it also includes technical graphic and workflow information that is part of the printing process itself.
“Right now, we are seeing a movement from modular and/or legacy systems to fully integrated ERP implementations,” says David Taylor, president of Radius Solutions. “Converters are trading in their islands of information for solutions that are fully-integrated and that go from prepress to the shop floor. The reason for the shift … increased efficiencies, improved operating efficiencies, and fewer mistakes.”
In many cases, the flow of information is extending outward in both supply-chain directions of a printer’s shop. “We are implementing more and more integration features with both suppliers and converters’ customers,” says Ken Meinhardt, president of Tailored Solutions. In 2004, his product line added the ability for converters to electronically order products from Fasson. Raflatac was recently added into this mix, and Meinhardt says that Green Bay Packaging and Spinnaker Coating will soon be included.