02/03/2010

By Graham Lowes, Marketing Director, OKI Printing Solutions

Modern print technology enables businesses to independently achieve the high-quality output that they previously needed to source from specialist suppliers. And this capability is helping businesses cut expenditure and streamline operations, with a recent survey by the centre for economics and business research (cebr) revealing that £360 million could be saved in the UK every year simply by moving expensive outsourced printing in‐house.

In today’s competitive business environment, organisations can achieve savings and drive efficiencies, without compromising the quality of their printed work.

Small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) often benefit most from high-quality printing solutions due to their strong focus on efficient business operations. Print vendors can support this focus by delivering a powerful combination of free in-the-box software utilities and cost-effective A4 and A3 printing.

By giving SMEs the flexibility to bring their printing in-house, this approach enables them to drive efficiencies by eliminating wastage. Companies invariably print more than they need when they outsource jobs, usually in order to get the most cost-effective deal available. The excess, typically 20% of the total print job, often ends up in the bin.

The ability to print on-demand using an in-house device and to customise each job depending on the size, shape and texture of the paper required, also helps manage usage more efficiently, by facilitating ‘right first time’ printing and reducing the size of each print run.

In addition, many SMEs are unaware that there are a range of other measures they can take to reduce waste. Simply by using double-sided printing, for example, they can at a stroke cut paper use by 50 per cent.

Creativity and Flexibility

The benefits SMEs achieve through high-quality in-house printing solutions go far beyond straightforward reductions in wastage. In line with OKI’s unique ‘Look What You Can Do’ messaging tagline, businesses can support the drive for efficiency referenced in the cebr report by grasping the opportunity to become more creative in developing corporate materials. Such solutions allow them to produce professional-looking documents quickly and efficiently.
Business cards, letterheads, compliment slips and invoices can be given a consistent ‘look and feel’, reinforcing the company brand. In addition, sales and marketing collateral – including presentations, flyers and brochures -can be adapted and enhanced for greater impact.

Vendors can deliver additional functionality by supplying, and allowing users to print on, different types of paper, including specialist pre-creased, waterproof and tearproof. In this context, flexible paper handling is key. OKI’s printers deliver this through their flat paper path capability, which allows users to print everything from business cards to banners up to 1.2 metres long, with some models supporting A3+ printing and heavyweight media up to 300gsm.

Finishing capabilities also benefit SMEs, enabling them to quickly and easily sort and hole-punch documents as well as to produce folded and stapled A4 or A5 booklets, ready to send to customers at the push of a button.

However, this kind of flexibility also needs to be allied to high-performance levels. Effective in-house printing is all about presentation quality. Ideally, businesses should look for printers that give them truly professional, photo-like results that are close in standard to that provided by litho print, without incurring the expense of outsourcing the work to a litho print house.

SMEs need to ensure that their chosen printers are capable not only of creating high-impact marketing materials but also of outputting them rapidly to meet tight deadlines.

Time-to-first-print, print speed and processor performance metrics are all important in keeping wait times low. Paper tray and consumables capacities also impact on productivity as higher capacities tend to reduce both the number of user interventions and the overall amount of product downtime.

Potential Rewards

Printing is a core function of any SME office today. Yet many businesses fail to appreciate the benefits they could achieve by bringing printing in-house and taking back control of their portfolio of company materials. This enables them to manage usage more efficiently but also to be more creative and flexible and to produce higher-quality results.

And perhaps the ultimate benefit is that customers that make the right choice in terms of in-house printing solutions will reap the rewards in terms of improvements to the bottom line, enhanced business agility and greater competitive edge.

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