Print 4.0

Look beyond traditional boundaries

Management information software (MIS) is regarded as the “command authority” in a print company. The Print 4.0 concept is bringing this “authority” and ERP software closer to comparable tools utilized by customers. How should software providers position themselves in this environment?

Alongside order management systems (OMS), MIS and ERP software represent the systems-centrepiece of a print company. This “communication centre” is the company’s business control instrument: as a rule it coordinates all business processes and offers the automated (where possible) interlinking of customers, sales, order management, production and logistics. Anyone wishing to establish Print 4.0 in their business cannot really avoid the connection and integration of MIS/ERP systems. Accordingly, software providers had a lot to say about this current hot-topic in the sector….

Statement by Ulrich Lauterbach, Managing Director, Dr. Lauterbach & Partner GmbH:

As a software and consulting company our aim is business process automation – and belonging to this is more than just the dialogue between machines and workflow integration. We want to connect business processes across the entire company: a form of end-to-end process with the greatest possible automation. To achieve this a system is needed that is capable of treating even whole company networks as one client!

With „LP. Print“ we provide a company solution which integrates all business processes, connects senior and middle management with the execution level and also includes customers and suppliers. For example, customers who submit their orders electronically are connected thereby automating the order registration process, and in turn they receive electronic delivery notifications in order to automate the receipt confirmation of goods delivered.

The connection of suppliers is similar. Topics such as batch traceability and serialization are gaining in importance and are already covered. Let’s take a short look at Print 4.0: what is missing at the moment, if anything? The PDF workflow has been integrated, pre-production systems have been integrated as have offset or hybrid packaging workflows for folding cartons or label production – and the machines have been integrated. This is already quite comprehensive for internal processes.

It is exactly these processes that a printer must have mastered as a form of precursor to benefit fully from the possibilities afforded by the interlinking with customers and partners towards full automation. The message to medium sized companies in this sector today must be:

End-to-end process automation has arrived and is economically viable.

Print 4.0 is not a short term bubble but a realistic opportunity to ensure long-lasting competitiveness! In order to exploit the full potential of advancing automation employees need to be trained intensively in order to keep pace with changes in technology in the future. From here on in supervisors who monitor automation processes, and also step in when necessary, will be needed more and more. However, this requires deep technical and business know-how as the subject matter is extremely complex. The requirement for IT know-how will also grow continuously. Whether in the cloud, hosting or their own infrastructure, we offer our customers the possibility of significant and long-term reductions in costs with full cost calculation security and long-term investment protection. Customers can also gain competitive advantage with company-wide network integration. In our view a fully integrated “high-end MIS” is necessary, one which will be continuously developed, sector specifically by us and in general by SAP (with full automation along the entire order-to-cash pathway). Medium sized print companies should review their cautious stance towards SAP business solutions, which form the basis of LP. Print and make a clear decision to embrace future proof and company-wide integration and business process automation.

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