A look at Print MIS
Print MIS today offers a range of benefits, which is right for you?
By Kim Crowley
Part 1 of 3
In the September/October issue of DPS magazine, we take a close look at the evolution of print MIS. In this first installment of a three-part Web series on print MIS, several vendors share details about core print MIS solutions and the newest updates. An investment in print MIS is an investment in a shop’s efficiency and productivity, and therefore should not be overlooked.
Print MIS solution providers added noteworthy enhancements to current offerings in the last 12 months.
AACRO Computer Systems
Print Shop Manager is designed to offer quick and small- to medium-size commercial printers a consistent method of producing quotes for digital and offset print jobs. "Once a quote is accepted, the job ticket produced helps to ensure an accurate product is produced. Production reports and sales reports give the owner a good picture of production needs and sales history," explains Rich Giles, president, AACRO.
The most important enhancement to Print Shop Manager is the integration of digital printers into the templates that previously only included offset. "Prior to this release we would price a job using digital and price another job using offset and compare the two. Now we compare by switching between digital and offset on the same job to compare them. Our users are very vocal about the ease-of-use when pricing jobs this way. When the size and cost parameters for any digital printer are entered, a quote is produced for any size job within its parameters," says Giles.
Avanti Computer Systems
Avanti is a modular system broken into four components. Production includes separate estimating functions for digital and litho, ticketing, costing, scheduling, inventory management, fulfillment, purchasing, shipping, and invoicing. Business Intelligence features dashboards, customer relationship management (CRM), triggers and alerts, and reporting. Web-to-print (W2P) is also available with full e-commerce, including print on demand job submission, shopping carts with credit card processing, variable data, soft proofing, and fulfillment. Finally, JDF Integration to software applications and Direct Machine interface to equipment is available.
Avanti’s newest features include CRM, JDF certification, and a broadened scope of modules for shops as they expand into other value-added services such as direct mail management, fulfillment, and creative services.
CRC Information Systems
CRC Information Systems’ next-generation business management solution, Nucleus, is an end-to-end product that brings together e-commerce, CRM, estimating, production, inventory, and accounting into one software package. The suite also integrates with all major W2P and variable print providers.
Nucleus features intuitive, custom-defined dashboards that stream data directly to the screen, Drag-n-Drop production scheduling, and a new e-commerce suite. A customizable menu structure allows users to move within the software as well as create personal workflows to maximize effectiveness.
EFI offers a range of solutions for every need—from the small shop to multiple-site print operations. EFI PrintSmith is an option for small commercial print shops, copy centers, and print-for-pays. EFI Pace is ideal for commercial, specialty, and hybrid print businesses. EFI PSI Flexo is a solution designed specifically for label and package printers.
EFI Monarch targets large single- and multi-plant printing operations. It includes EFI’s Hagen—now known as Monarch Foundation, Prograph, Auto-Count, and PrintFlow products. EFI Prograph provides the integrated, intelligent visual planning and workflow management capabilities for EFI Monarch.
EFI Auto-Count DMI provides a direct machine interface capability for press and finishing equipment with integration to EFI Monarch, Pace, Logic, and PSI. EFI PrintFlow Dynamic Scheduling provides integrated dynamic scheduling capabilities with optimization and synchronization capabilities for EFI Monarch, Pace, Logic, and PSI. EFI Proteus is EFI’s publication architect, providing intelligent layout and submission capabilities for all types of publications.
This year, EFI announced several noteworthy enhancements. Monarch now features key upgrades based on user requests to its foundation, planning, dynamic scheduling, and direct machine interface capabilities. Monarch improved JDF certified workflow capabilities. Pace features advanced integration to PrintFlow Dynamic Scheduling as well as integration to the new Digital StoreFront 4.0 and to Fiery digital print server technologies. Pace also added to its browser-based UI, providing a more user-friendly look and feel with improved access functionality. PrintSmith revision 8.1 includes FSC certification for inventory tracking and new wide and superwide format enhancements. PrintSmith Site W2P is enhanced with a new CSR mode, integrated job status updates, and enhanced XMPie functionality. Recent developments for PSI and PSI Flexo include advanced integration to EFI Digital StoreFront 4.0.
HIFLEX MIS is configurable to fit a print shop’s needs and timeline. Components include HIFLEX MIS Office, HIFLEX MIS Factory, HIFLEX eBusiness, and HIFLEX Webshop. All systems except Webshop are included with the MIS at no extra cost.
HIFLEX MIS Office includes estimation, order management, CRM, material management, mail robot, shipping and logistics, payroll, invoicing, and a number of other modules for job processing and tracking.
The elements of HIFLEX MIS Factory move jobs through actual production. JDF and JMF information is used to integrate and automate departments of print production.
HIFLEX eBusiness is an essential part of the HILEX MIS system. Customers place orders through a Web portal and enter customized data for certain products that are commonly purchased products. This eliminates FTP servers because eBusiness connects customer files directly to their specific job.
HIFLEX Webshop is a W2P storefront that allows print buyers to dynamically order print products. With the HIFLEX Webshop Dynamic Ordering Bar, buyers choose from thousands of product combinations and define product parts, quantities, paper and finishing types, file submission types, and other variables.
EMS Business Software enables digital and offset print providers to manage an operation from the front office—with CRM, quoting, and estimating; to production—enabling advanced planning and scheduling, MRP, and fulfillment; to back office operations such as accounting, payroll, and reporting.
In the past 12 months, Kodak released two system upgrades to help customers streamline workflow. The latest release includes connectivity with the Kodak INSITE Storefront System, more flexibility to apply pricing markups in estimating, ability to track labor for batch job activities, bulk shipping management, and additional real-time dashboards.
Printer’s Plus offers a full featured, module-based print MIS. The Basic solution offers print estimation and is equipped with database management and reporting features for customer information, pricing, and order history.
Accounting modules, including AR, AP, General Ledger report directly or export to a major third party accounting package, and sales reporting is an optional add on. Sales modules include analysis and reporting options, contact management, customer mailing labels, and customer import/export for marketing. The eCommerce module is a fully integrated Web portal for online ordering. This module is a significant part of the Printer’s Plus system, completely rewritten in 2008.
CustomerPulse is the newest Printer’s Plus module. In partnership with Survey Advantage, it allows customers to follow up with customers through a short, customizable survey. Survey Advantage produces response reports, industry benchmarks, and instant emails when a negative reply is received. The CustomerPulse module is fully integrated and operates in real time.
PrismPrism offers Prism WIN, a fully integrated MIS for mid- to large-size printers, and a configured solution for the growing company—WIN SBE (Small Business Edition). In addition, the company offers lean production management, Prism QTMS, for equipment counts and WIP, pallet, and workflow tracking across an entire plant.
"Prism WIN offers a highly configurable solution for companies that require multiple unique workflows from estimating through accounting. It is designed to streamline a company’s processes in the way they require, and not in the way the software requires," states Tim Daisy, marketing director, Prism.
Prism is set to introduce Prism WIN 2009 to North America at Print 09 in Chicago, IL, September 11 to 16. Prism WIN 2009 now enables the power of Metrix production planning software for automated layout creation plus the ability to gang multiple jobs together in one layout. The combination of Metrix and ganging provides companies with unique production abilities that previously could only be accomplished with manual procedures. WIN 2009 also contains advancements in key performance indicator dashboards and shop floor data capture.
The new WIN 2009 Virtual Time Manager 2 (VTM2) is a client-based application for recording operator activity—either on the shop floor or during pre-production. The solution is an enhanced version of the original Prism WIN VTM. VTM2 is configurable in appearance and behavior and receives feedback manually from operators or through an available machine counter.
For more on print MIS, stay tuned for next week’s eNewsletter, which studies success stories. Also, be sure to check out the September/October issue of DPS for an article that looks at the benefits of investing in print MIS, even during an uncertain economy.
To request more information on the companies mentioned in this Installment of our eNewsletter, click on the dpsmagdirect logo.
Avanti Computer Systems, 561
CRC Information Systems, 562
Printer's Plus, 566
Aug2009, DPS Magazine