By Gregory Cholmondeley
Making intelligent business decisions is required in order to succeed in today’s printing business. Providing large-format graphic-display services is one of those intelligent decisions, but there are many more, and to make them effectively, accurate, and timely, data is essential.
There are numerous questions one might consider in the process of making such decisions. For example, are the printers running efficiently? Which ones are over- or underutilized? How much ink does each job use? What is happening on the floor of one or more of the business’s shops right now?
Many business owners already weigh these factors. However, their methods of assessment commonly involve eyeballing ink consumption, estimating when jobs will be complete, and having operators spend considerable time observing printers. These techniques work, but knowledge, precision, and efficiency make any operation more profitable. Cloud-based solutions assist in accomplishing this by collecting and analyzing real-time and historical printer data. These new solutions could be game-changers for many large-format printers, helping print providers become more profitable and productive.
One should consider the advantages browser-based cloud technology provides in remote monitoring, management, and analysis. Printing companies can view all their large-format and cut-sheet printers across one or multiple locations, seeing near-real-time statuses of any printer or group of printers along with historical trends. Companies can even compare performance and ink consumption between printers or printer groups over any timeframe.
The most advanced tools offering this capability enable users to accurately compare how two printers or two locations are performing. Additionally, users can set up notifications for production-blocking events and schedule e-mailed production reports.
Mobile apps extend the functionality of the newest print data management tools further, utilizing integrated functionality to accomplish important tasks, such as monitoring print queues and consumable statuses. Good app functionality for large-format display-graphics printers also gives users the ability to peruse lists of every job printed over the past day or week. Further, solutions that provide production-blocking alerts on the go via a mobile device can be invaluable for field sales representatives and essential personnel, especially those changed with directing multi-site operations.
Mobile production-blocking notifications also have the potential to improve operators’ workflow. Large-format jobs can take a while to print, which means operators start the printing and do other work until they think the job is complete. They waste their time watching the job finish if they guess early, and the printer sits idle if they guess late.
While this waste adds productivity cost to every job, error conditions can be disastrous. For instance, an operator might initiate printing a large banner. If the printer then experiences a production-blocking event, this could result in the loss of hours of productivity unless the operator regularly checks each printer. However, such regular checks severely impact operators’ productivity on other tasks.