If you’re part of one of the countless colleges and universities that has brought printing and mailing in-plant, congratulations! The move has undoubtedly saved your institution hundreds of thousands of dollars in outsourced printing costs and become invaluable to faculty, staff and students.
But even with all the benefits an on-campus print shop offers, running an in-plant shop efficiently and profitably can be a challenge. Many university print shops struggle to constantly prove their value within the organization. Often, outdated or inefficient processes mean shops lose their appeal. As you know, the less effective your department is perceived to be, the less continued investment you will receive from the college.
Fortunately, folks in the print industry are creative and flexible—perfect for adapting to innovative solutions that will solve challenges and improve the entire organization! Here are four ways to optimize your university’s in-plant print shop for increased accuracy, efficiency, and productivity.
1. Train employees in multiple skills
Your employees are only as effective as the way they were trained. Whether accidentally or intentionally, silos of knowledge can occur in organizations when people aren’t cross-trained. This can cause downtime when employees need to stop to figure something out, rather than simply fixing the problem. With today’s advanced presses, much of the work is done digitally. Employees need to understand not just how to operate the hardware, but the software as well.
Ever had a job all queued up only to have the customer want some last-minute changes? Normally, you would need to wait for the customer to send over updated artwork. But if your employees are trained in the basics of design programs such as the Adobe Creative Suite, simple changes become a breeze.
Take the time to train your employees completely. The technology found within in-plant print shops today is remarkable—as long as the operators understand how to harness the full power of the machines.
2. Minimize labor hours with more efficient tools
Have you ever taken the time to do a true productivity audit? Start by monitoring tasks and processes, determining which are the most inefficient, and then implement the tools you need to optimize those processes. If upgrading your tools will require a capital investment in new equipment or software, it will be helpful to back up your proposal with data about how your shop runs now, and how it could increase profitability with these new tools.
Where should you focus your audit? The most common stumbling blocks in university print shops are things such as workflow management and operator error. Many of these common challenges can be solved with the use of a Fiery interface.
Just as digital presses brought an enormous change to the way print shops operate, Fiery servers are the next must-have efficiency tool for university print shops. Fiery allows shops to streamline production with automation and integration, all with fewer touchpoints for the operators. You can manage your production queue, speed up job setup, and centralize prepress workflows for end-to-end automation. A Fiery print management interface really is the ultimate optimization tool for college and university print shops today.
3. Implement web-to-print solutions
There’s a pretty simple philosophy that can help any organization increase their number of jobs—make it as simple as possible for people to become your customers.
Unfortunately, many people see ordering print materials as a chore, and the perception of the university print and mailing center is that it’s inconvenient. Implementing a web-to-print system solves this problem by allowing customers to send in an order when the time works for them. The whole interaction takes place online, from order submission and payment through proofing and confirmation. This takes the process from a chore to simply part of someone’s day.
Online storefronts or order forms go beyond attracting more people to use your services; they make your teams’ jobs easier. When web-to-print systems integrate with digital queues, operators have a consistent workflow from order-booking through submission, proofing and printing, which keeps production moving and reduces operator error.
4. Reduce outsourcing
From simple jobs such as syllabi to complex jobs such as bound books, in-plant print shops gain credibility and add value when they are able to deliver services that are comparable to local print shops (or even more services!). One way to do this is by increasing your finishing and bindery capabilities.
When faculty and staff know that they can get what they need on campus, whether it’s creating their own book for a class or printing large format posters for an event, the process of working with your department becomes streamlined. Creating a one-stop shop makes it simpler for people to get everything they need from you—and be delighted with the quality of the job.
Technology has turned around many university print shops, taking them from inefficient offset house to valuable assets that faculty, staff and students rely on. By taking time to understand your shop’s inefficiencies and implement a few solutions, you can optimize your shop to deliver even better products and services that the whole campus can be proud of.