Overcoming Objections to Automation in Wide-Format Print
Only 8% of North America’s commercial print sector currently invests in automated workflows.* With the prospect of huge productivity gains and minimal investment in resources, what arguments does the industry have for ignoring the automation revolution? And can operators be persuaded to reconsider?
Here we assess three of the typical objections to embracing new cloud-based solutions and suggest some compelling reasons for the sluggish 92% of large format print (LFP) businesses to reconsider their dependence on legacy technology.
I can’t afford to upgrade
The print world is used to significant equipment costs and narrow margins. Perhaps it’s not surprising that business owners are sensitive to any additional upfront expenditure.
After investing large amounts in existing systems, why would print shops want to replace them? As long as the customer is happy, they argue, there’s little impetus to upgrade.
This is a sound argument. Except it presumes individual print shops operate in a vacuum.
If the technology exists to provide a competitive edge (and it does) it’s only a matter of time before someone capitalizes on it. This is true of all industries, and the wide-format print world is no exception.
And the costs needn’t be prohibitive.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms provide the convenience and financial flexibility of a pay-as-you go model—countering the capex heavy world of print, while offering the advantage of full scalability.
The more forward-thinking operators will reap the rewards earlier, provided they’re prepared to close the knowledge gap and disrupt processes in the short-term in exchange for long-term benefits. That 8% is already gaining ground…
Will my data be safe?
Despite widespread adoption, many people still view cloud services with suspicion. There is a feeling of “relinquishing control” that is hard for some to shake. And with it comes anxiety over data protection.
While the industry is still relatively new, providers recognize these concerns and are wholly dedicated to ensuring the security of customer data. Without this commitment, the cloud simply couldn’t operate on the wide scale it does today.
Furthermore, one of the advantages of cloud-based services is resilience—a remote backup all but assures disaster recovery. Conventional backups, meanwhile, are more susceptible to human error and the unexpected (for instance, extreme weather events).
How will I implement it?
Color matching is a complex task. But data-driven solutions can make this process easier to process and perform.
Will there be a backlash from the shop floor? Maybe. But the experts on your team have already proven their ability to master the far greater challenges that traditional workflows, relying on legacy equipment, present. For starters, they are much more prone to human error.
Uncertainty is always a factor with any new system. A few teething issues are to be expected as the team gets to grips with a slicker way of doing things —but again, it’s about a long-term view to increased productivity. The ability to coordinate multiple printers and ensure complete consistency is too compelling to ignore.
Ready to discover the potential of automation?
A certain amount of caution is to be expected when investing in any technology, especially for precision obsessed print shops. The fast moving, flexible world of automation may be a little out of the comfort zone for some business owners—but the process advantages and margin opportunities make the much greater uptake of automated workflows only a matter of time.
Keen to find out more?
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*Infotrends/ Keypoint Intelligence’s North American Software Investment Outlook, 2017