Shop floor data is rapidly becoming one of the most important sources of information for print service providers and their partners that support them. Knowing there are great sources of data within a print service provider in one thing, but understanding how, where and what to measure is another. Whether you have data collection sensors or software platforms like management information systems, data is being collected and used to identify business decisions like lowering costs and optimizing shift performance. Data has also played a role in printing companies that are providing marketing services and, as such, serving up dashboards on campaign effectiveness that translates into end user value.
For many though, getting access to the data and turning it into something valuable ─ whether for selling purposes or business intelligence purposes ─ is not so easy. It’s one thing knowing what you have for data vs. how that data will help you in your business or for your customer. However, some printing companies are fairly advanced with data collection systems and predictive analytics. We see this in direct mail and transactional printing companies that are using data to drive customer acquisition or to deliver performance service levels in their respective service level agreements (SLAs) and in commercial printing companies that use data to drive efficiencies in their workflows from traditional print to digital print to marketing services.
Although data analytics for many printers is not a new concept, others are starting to realize new benefits. The use of visual and business intelligence through new innovative tools is becoming more relevant, which leads to new opportunities for the value chain partners whom can support these services. Konica Minolta has been leading many of these services within this space through lean manufacturing to marketing services.
There are opportunities everywhere to incorporate data. Identifying where to focus becomes the first step. This is where predictive analytics come in, to drive operational efficiencies within a job, shift or equipment. Keeping in mind we’re still in a competitive and commodity driven industry. By collecting data on a job or shift or even equipment, a print shop owner can start identifying lower cost options or even track downtime to schedule preventative maintenance. Having options will increase efficiencies and lower costs. Understanding how a job can run more efficiently through a print shop will ultimately deliver more profit to the bottom line.
I have seen some printers really excel at understanding the analytics and how data collection on the manufacturing process has given them insight into:
- Maximizing uptime
- Reducing service personnel costs
- Reducing inventory costs
- Reducing supplies waste
- Letting go of unprofitable clients that are just not the right fit
- Identifying vendors that support Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing to preventative maintenance schedules
Some printing companies have turned the data into service tools that they extend to customers. Data if used correctly can provide a high level of customer satisfaction, which ultimately drives value and higher retention rates.
We’re at the very beginning of what data can drive in the graphic communications industry. The convergence of technology and innovation is making things possible and less complex, from cloud-based delivery models to easy-to-use visual and business intelligence tools. The printing industry has an opportunity to expand its business model to increase revenues and drive manufacturing efficiencies. These areas of convergence represent a entropy in the market but, more importantly, they represent enhancements that can be delivered to the entire value chain if implemented correctly. Over the next six months, Konica Minolta will start adding additional analytical services in this segment and we’ll introduce print service providers whom have benefited from this.