'Can I have it in an hour?' Delivering print in accelerating times

“Can I have it in an hour?” It’s a question that would have gotten laughs from customer service reps in the not-too-distant past. Today, you’d be lucky to get a raised eyebrow.

Johannesburg, 25 Apr 2022
Read time 2min 40sec

The great turnaround squeeze

Print facilities have seen turnaround times shrink dramatically in recent years. The need for speed spans print requests from walk-in customers and online orders to B2B companies.

“I’ve been in print for 25 years, and when we started out, every job had a minimum turnaround of five working days,” says Steve Tappenden, manager, RPM Digital in Dorset, United Kingdom. “Nowadays, 48 hours is an average, and on some jobs, customers need it within an hour or even 30 minutes.”

RPM Digital’s client base includes architects with hard-and-fast deadlines, so they know the value of delivering documents on time. “I’ve been in the factory through the night with clients so they can get it out the door first thing to meet their deadline. It’s intense, but if you’ve got a client whose relationship you value, you’ll go the extra mile,” says Tappenden.

Laying the groundwork

In such a high-turnover, high-intensity print ecosystem, it’s survival of the most efficient. Mixing fast, small jobs with high-volume work is a challenge worth taking on when the margins are right. But meeting those tight deadlines day in, day out requires optimised processes that run smoothly and predictably, so you can crank up the pace when you need to.

When an RPM Digital customer places an order, Xerox FreeFlow Core automatically identifies it as a colour job and sends it to the desired colour printer via a Hot Folder that’s been set up for the purpose. The entire process is largely touchless, with the only human interaction coming when the operator switches on the press in the morning and grabs output off the back end for fulfilment.

Data awakening

When you add variable data to the mix, the need for groundwork is even greater. A personalised print run requires time and effort in the initial set-up, but once this process is established and remembered by the system, repeat jobs go much faster.

“Variable printing is only going to grow as more clients recognise the value of the data at their disposal,” says Tappenden. “We’ve invested in a cross-media future with XMPie to service these clients as they become more willing to put that data to good use. As part of that, we’re now opening up our web-to-print store to improve the customer journey from the very first step, whether it’s in person, via a self-service stand or on the web.”

Whatever the document, today’s printers are facing growing pressure from tighter turnarounds. Variable data jobs are bringing further complexity to an already daunting task, so speed is no longer enough. Efficient workflows have to shave valuable seconds from print processes while ensuring accuracy and security are never compromised.

If you’ve got customers who need it in an hour (or less), find out how print workflow software could help you hit the deadline.

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