Streamlines Workflow at Steelcase

Kent Sullivan monitors new jobs coming to the in-plant using Rochester Software Associates’ WebCRD software.

Al Schmidutz (left), manager of Global Output Services for  Steelcase Inc., stands with his in-plant team (from left): Ronald Burke (seated), Joe Lidgard, Travis Boerema, Kent Sullivan, Hank Donker and Bill Close.

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.

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.

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    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