While overall print and mail volumes are changing, businesses are running more print and mail jobs per day now than ever before. The reason why is simple: run-times are shorter. Instead of processing one large job for a client that lasts for eight hours, they are now producing eight or more separate smaller jobs that each run for an hour or less.
Shorter job runs often mean increased set up and changeover time. This also means the risk of introducing errors or compromising on quality is proportionally higher. Many businesses also operate in highly regulated environments, so “getting it wrong” can carry a massive financial penalty.
As print and mail operations are squeezed by the growing volume of short-run jobs, they are also facing a litany of environmental pressures: consolidation, cost of raw materials, new technology innovation and the cost and availability of labor. Suffice it to say, these businesses need a new competitive advantage, one that allows them to serve their existing and new clients while producing the same quality, reliable outputs.
Linking print to mail
Output management and workflow, printing, inserting and sorting are the key processes that connect print and mail operations. Historically, these functions were handled by different managers with individual supply networks and operating teams. They each performed distinct duties and responsibilities.
In this environment, it was natural for print operations to only focus on printing. Similarly, inserting operations focused on inserting and sorting on sorting. This separation between print, insert and sort meant that if one function was optimized, it wouldn’t necessarily benefit the others. Over time, this resulted in many inefficiencies and incongruities between different teams and each one ended up becoming an island.
But markets are changing at a rapid pace; regulatory complexity is growing; innovation is constantly being introduced to the marketplace. Long-term operators and single, long-run jobs have given way to less experienced operators who require more training. While clients push for reductions in turnaround times, multiple jobs with shorter run lengths can result in less net production per shift.
These industry pressures point to one thing: companies need to stop thinking about their print, mail and sorting functions as islands and start looking at the big picture.
“Our clients find success when they leverage printing, inserting and sorting workflows together, from end-to-end, to achieve across-the-board process optimization, lower costs and increase capabilities to serve their clients and acquire new ones,” says Kevin Marks, Vice President, Global Production Print at BlueCrest.
Adopting this holistic view enables a collective competitive advantage that better positions businesses to identify and eliminate inefficiencies and performance roadblocks across core functions. This approach will ultimately result in greater value and productivity for your operations, while siloed competitors are stuck.
The largest print and mail operations struggle with the same basic questions and goals as the smaller ones. How do I deliver better results? How do I execute every job within a shift with accuracy and precision? How do I optimize performance across all processes and prevent silos? How do I ensure jobs run efficiently and provide proof of regulatory compliance within each phase while managing growing levels of complexity in my industry?
These are the things that can keep business leaders up at night. When you’re stuck in the traditional way of doing things, it is important to recognize that there is a cycle and breaking out of it can present an enormous challenge.
Integrating print, insert, sort, and software/IT teams will not always come naturally to a business that is accustomed to keeping them separate from each other. Therefore, it makes sense to collaborate with an outside partner to achieve success. Only companies with considerable experience across each and all of these functions can successfully identify and recommend solutions for creating a holistic, end-to-end structure that fully integrates print and mail manufacturing.
The complexity of clients’ needs grows exponentially every year – it’s a question of survive or thrive. BlueCrest is here to help you thrive every step of the way.