Ricoh blog: Unlock the full potential of print with software

Software isn't just a necessary add-on to printing hardware. In the digital world print service providers can use software to open an incredible variety of doors.

We're well and truly living in the digital era. Most of us are carrying around phones with greater power than the Apollo 11 lunar space capsule, with more opportunities for communication, information, and entertainment than Neil, Buzz and Michael could have thought possible in 1969.

There are companies, markets and whole industries now thriving that could not have been feasible even 20 years ago. For practically every business enterprise to be successful, some degree of digital technology is essential. All of this ground-breaking tech, however, relies on software.

As wide format printing hardware evolves to enable print service providers (PSPs) to create bigger and better work, so does the associated software. While not too long ago a RIP and a decent design suite would suffice, the latest printing software is being constantly updated and upgraded to ensure businesses can achieve the maximum potential from their entire workflow. From materials costings to delivery confirmations, from social media marketing to web shop management, from remote operation to tech troubleshooting, there's an app - or a whole software solution - for that.

As such, there is no one-size-fits-all software package that ticks every box for every user. PSPs will have many products and solutions to choose from and the final decision should be based on understanding your business and where you want to take it. What are your unique needs and goals? What applications do you want to print, on what materials? Who are your customers and how would they like to receive their print?

However, a good print Management Information System (MIS) will deliver the essentials required by large format print businesses, taking care of a myriad processes to help increase quality, shorten turnaround times, and boost profits.

As the name suggests, an MIS has an integral role in project management, handling complex quotes, estimates and production planning, while also automating cost management and data collection - the user can see real-time cost updates of every job. It will also simplify the management of materials purchased and/or used in different units of measurement, plus raw and finished goods, to give operators greater control over inventory.

This software will also be a key part of resource allocation and efficiency in terms of stocking levels and order quantities, re-order points and scheduling, and can optimise logistics processes throughout a job production cycle - including assembly, fulfilment, and multi-location shipping.

Moreover, MIS software developed for printing and graphics production will also take care of workflow elements specific to this market. Colour and data management and output optimisation processes, alongside machine scheduling, shipping, and communication from pre-press to fulfilment, will all be handled on a single platform.

It will also form a crucial part of any printing service: customer communication. Thanks to real-time updates generated by the MIS, print rooms can manage both production changes and customer expectations. Importantly, a good MIS will also be easily integrated with other software and apps. For example, connecting to web-to-print (W2P) solutions can accelerate ordering and job turnaround - and boost that all-important customer engagement - while colour management tools can simplify special effects such as using white ink or metallic substrates.

Avanti Slingshot Print MIS is available for Ricoh large format printers, streamlining workflows and boosting profits. And, thanks to market-leading open architecture and expert guidance, Ricoh customers can be sure of a number of options to unlock the full potential of their printed output. Software isn't just one tool or even a toolbox; it's a whole superstore full of opportunities that can build a business. See where it can take you in the digital world.

Authored by Jason Naylor, Senior Software Sales Specialist, Commercial and Industrial Printing Group, Ricoh UK Ltd

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