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Web-to-print Streamlines Workflow at Steelcase

Adding a Web-to-print system not only simplified the workflow at Steelcase’s in-plant, it increased throughput and improved job management, tracking and reporting.

June 2011
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For Years, the in-plant at Steelcase Inc. received jobs in a variety of disjoined ways: e-mail, FTP and even physical drop-offs. Back in 2006, only about 40 percent of jobs were submitted electronically to the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based in-plant, mostly via e-mail. This had begun to take its toll on the productivity of the five-employee shop.

"Jobs came to the print shop in every way you could imagine, with varying degrees of accuracy of the instructions," recalls Al Schmidutz, manager of Global Output Services. This made it very difficult to maintain a fast, efficient workflow.

At first, the in-plant attempted to tackle these problems through a homegrown job submission tool; however, the internal tool struggled to keep up with customers' requirements. The ability to provide accurate production reports and submit customized, variable output remained limited. The need for a viable job submission solution, coupled with cost accounting capabilities, became critical.

Seeking New Solutions

With 13,000 employees worldwide, Steelcase—a $2.4 billion designer and manufacturer of office furniture—relies on its in-plant for a variety of documents, from forms and business cards to sales presentations, marketing collateral and product catalogs. The in-plant handles more than 800 jobs per month, using a Ricoh Pro C900 and Canon imagePRESS C7000VP for color printing and a Canon imageRUNNER 110 for black and white.

Since so many key customers rely on the in-plant's services—including dealers, corporate marketers, customer service representatives and end users—Schmidutz knew he needed to solve the shop's workflow problems. So back in 2006, he decided to explore commercial tools. He was looking for a Web-based solution that could help his print shop in several ways:

Simplify Workflow: File submission needed to be simple and consistent for internal customers as well as production staff.

• Improve Throughput: Enabling quick and efficient job file navigation through the print shop was important.

• Allow for Scalability: As the company was growing rapidly, the right solution would need to provide the flexibility to expand capabilities as needs arose.

• Job Accounting: With increasing job volume to the in-plant, Steelcase required more robust management, tracking and reporting of every job coming through production.

• Transparency: The solution needed to provide a way for customers to see their work in progress.

Steps for Successful Implementation

The use of a Web-to-print solution can significantly improve an in-plant’s operation. Before investing, an organization should take Steelcase’s lead and consider the following actions to ensure a successful implementation:

  1. Clear communication of the goals of the implementation, both internally and externally.
  2. Creation of a strong implementation plan, including the consideration of future applications to assure long-term effectiveness and ROI.
  3. Initial and ongoing education and training program for the print shop and end users. Training is essential to customer adoption and the sustained success of online print job ordering.
  4. Select a Web-to-print vendor that is prepared to actively participate in the installation process as a technology partner. This is not a one-week installation.

Find Out More

Here’s a short list of companies offering Web-to-print systems:

  • Avanti Computer Systems www.avantisystems.com
  • Bitstream www.bitstream.com
  • Canon USA www.usa.canon.com
  • Dalim Software www.dalim.com
  • EFI www.efi.com
  • Kodak graphics.kodak.com
  • Konica Minolta stopthepresses-km.com
  • Océ North America www.oceusa.com
  • PagePath Technologies www.pagepath.com
  • Printable Technologies www.printable.com
  • Rochester Software Associates www.rocsoft.com
  • Xerox www.xerox.com/printing
  • XMPie www.xmpie.com
 
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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
San Diego Office Furniture - Posted on June 26, 2011
Embedded systems such as printers and copiers have been web-enabled for at least a decade. It's interesting to see how companies are finally catching on to why this is important and how they can leverage their existing capabilities (coupled with customized software) to increase efficiency. D. McCarty
Editor - Posted on June 27, 2011
To be fair, many, many in-plants have already implemented MIS and Web-to-print systems and are enjoying great success. Even the RSA system noted in this story was added by Steelcase back in 2006. But there are still some in-plants who have been unable, for internal reasons, to move to such a system, so hopefully stories like this will motivate them. Thanks for your comment.
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
San Diego Office Furniture - Posted on June 26, 2011
Embedded systems such as printers and copiers have been web-enabled for at least a decade. It's interesting to see how companies are finally catching on to why this is important and how they can leverage their existing capabilities (coupled with customized software) to increase efficiency. D. McCarty
Editor - Posted on June 27, 2011
To be fair, many, many in-plants have already implemented MIS and Web-to-print systems and are enjoying great success. Even the RSA system noted in this story was added by Steelcase back in 2006. But there are still some in-plants who have been unable, for internal reasons, to move to such a system, so hopefully stories like this will motivate them. Thanks for your comment.