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FLEXO Magazine : February 2011
Technologies & Techniques ferent price point and how to adjust their prices accordingly. They can also project weeks in advance, rather than hours or days in advance, when they ’ll need more materials, helping them to negotiate best pricing with their suppliers. They also reduce waste as they eliminate the need to pull incomplete jobs off of presses to fit in other jobs for customer deadlines. Better inventory management also means reducing car- rying costs and improving customer service as companies always know what they have on hand and how much of it they will need to produce work to satisfy customer orders on time. We have literally seen companies that struggled with inven- tory issues achieve better than 99 percent inventory accuracy and even get bank credit from their carried inventory, without the need for cycle counts. Some of our packaging customers have eliminated cycle counts altogether. Financial ManageMent / Financial HealtH It’s hard to imagine getting the most from a financial man- agement system, if it is not fully integrated with the rest of your operations. For example, can your sales people easily check the payment status of a customer while preparing an esti- mate? Can your organization see which of your clients pay on time and which ones don’t? Can you easily adjust your invoic- ing, based on the amount of finished goods you are shipping against a customer order? Can your receiving department scan goods from suppliers and receive notification of short shipment quantities, then have the supplier payment adjusted accordingly? Is your system able to help you identify when a change in cost is due to a client request that should be bill- able, then add it to the invoice for that job? Through the power of automation and integration, these types of activities, which were typically done manually, if at all, are not only possible, but become part of each great company ’s best practices. Impress your customers and improve your bottom line. Per- haps the most understated, but important, element of integra- tion is the ability it provides companies to better serve their clients, while maintaining competitive prices and healthy prof- it margins. Great companies have fully automated systems, allowing employees to instantly and easily find information on the status of customer orders. They also enable customers to do business with them anytime, from anywhere they choose by enabling online ordering, providing the ability for custom- ers to make changes to existing orders online and to check on the status of their items anytime. These systems leverage the data already being captured and enable employees and customers to quickly access it for improved customer service and satisfaction, without the need to add additional staff. Leading solutions either have Customer Relationship Man- agement (CRM) capabilities built into them, such as customer self service portals; or they have been integrated with Web-to- Print add-on capabilities to address those areas. What are the options for business automation software? The “great” companies that invested in MIS or ERP solutions had many choices, the same choices printing and packaging organizations have today. Among them: 1. Buy a point solution to address some main areas of their business, such as inventory and financial management; but without the capability to integrate and automate their entire operations. 2. Build their own internal systems to automate parts of their operations, such as scheduling and order man- agement. 3. Buy point solutions for some areas of their business and then build internal systems to automate other areas. The systems are usually not integrated. 4. Buy a fully integrated generic ERP system and either customize/configure it heavily to address some of the in- dustry specific needs for packaging and printing opera- tions, or use only the general areas that will work across industries, such as financial management. 5. Buy an industry specific software package that can manage printing and packaging operations, but lacks full ERP capabilities to address multi-plant, multi-curren- cy or multi-language requirements and lacks scalability to accommodate much growth. 6. Buy a scalable, industry-specific solution that has full tier I ERP capabilities from order inquiry through cash receipt. I am a strong supporter of Option 6. More sophisticated industry-specific software systems allow for fully integrated automation, without the need to be augmented with other applications or tools, such as spreadsheets. They also require shorter implementation times and significantly less services costs than generic systems needing extensive customization or offering configurations that often will not work for such a specific set of industry requirements. These comprehensive systems can greatly improve company performance They enable packaging companies to completely automate their business operations---so they can produce more work and improve customer service without adding additional staff--but they also enable organizations to gain complete visibility into their operations. The most sophisticated MIS/ERP systems offer complete visibility down to a granular level, such as the ability to see the performance metrics of each machine on a plant floor; as well as aggregate business performance, such as a picture of how all plants are performing, how much profit margin the business is generating, or how many new customers the busi- ness acquired in the last year. n About the Author: David Taylor is General Manager of EFI Radius. He has more than 20 years of management experi- ence in the development, delivery and support of software systems. He has been involved in software systems for the printing and packaging industry for 13 years. David has an undergraduate degree in computer science and an MBA from Cranfield University. EFI develops, delivers and supports world class MIS and ERP systems for printing and packaging organizations world- wide. EFI Radius is a fully integrated, end-to-end ERP/MIS system with tier I capabilities, but has been specifically de- signed for packaging organizations. EFI Monarch is a robust ERP/MIS system designed to address the needs of commercial printers. Hundreds of printing/packaging operations around the world rely on EFI software to manage their operations and help them make profitable decisions every day. With fully automated systems, like eFi Radius, data can be leveraged for business performance measurement and management. 36 FLeXO FebRuaRy 2011 www.flexography.org FLX_Feb11_mech.indd 36 2/16/11 8:50 AM
Sustainable Winter 2011