Wide-format print is one of the most vibrant sectors of the digital print market, as evidenced by the 22,000 people who made their way to Fespa London in June 2013. Three groups are driving this growth: conventional sign shops and screen printers adding or switching to digital printing methods; existing wide-format users wanting to increase capacity or improve quality and/or productivity to meet customer demand; and commercial offset printers or prepress specialists who are keen to capture a larger proportion of their customers’ print spend.
There is still a high rate of technological development in wide-format print. There are new ways of printing and designing emerging each day such as signage, package prototyping as well as label printing that seem to be emerging each day.
There however seems to be a problem when it comes to integrating the business of an individual and the production of wide print despite there being improvements each day.
The wide format printers are operated in isolation as compared to all the other kinds of ERP systems. Products to facilitate this integration are available, but lack of customer focus, awareness or trust in automation have been barriers to their uptake.
Wide-format work typically requires more complex finishing than other types of print, sometimes to the point where the direct print costs are only a small part of the total job value. Just like most complex jobs, most one off jobs require more elaborate planning, shipping and creative input in order to have a good finished product. Most of the producers of wide format print are very reluctant in accepting automation as the norm of this kind of jobs is customerization.
However, the manual method of doing it is not as good as they think it is as wit results into wastage of resources and time over time. The other problem is associated with the inability to load balanced work across machines leading some machines being left idle.
Over time, the areas in the production process that are manual usually call for additional costs which are not included win the cost of production oftenly. Most of the time, job costing methods per metre often result into products being sold at a loss because not all the costs are accounted for during calculating the total costs. Lack of detailed information about job set-up times and finishing operations, with missing or inaccurate media consumption figures make it difficult to analyse where bottlenecks are occurring and where money is being made or lost.
The market for this printer is growing rapidly and becoming more competitive, as a result more pressure is going to be put towards automating each step.