When thinking about automation, people tend to picture never-ending assembly lines run by robots with nary a human in sight. Management often loves automation when it means greater profit margins, while employees can feel it can be a threat to their jobs. However, much of today’s advancing technology has been designed not necessarily to eliminate the human element of a job, but to make the operator’s job easier and more efficient.
As technological advancements continue to surge, companies like Avanti have begun developing automating software – such as the Avanti Slingshot print management system (MIS) – in order to help manufacturers streamline how information is managed both on the shop floor and throughout the facility. Such automation software can lead to improved efficiency, less waste and improved profits. The following are common areas businesses should consider implementing automation.
With the right software, creating estimates for customers can be as easy as clicking a button. An automated estimating system can automatically email quotes to customers, sales reps and customer service reps. Templates can be used for common items, standardizing the estimating process and improving efficiency.
2. Material planning
When implementing automation software, it is important to be sure the MIS system is able to accommodate all the different types of materials businesses work with, whether they be finished goods, stock items or even print on demand products. Automated material planning means having comprehensive materials management capabilities for both raw materials and finished goods in real time. An MIS system can provide notification for reorder points, optimum stocking levels and economical order quantities. Furthermore, the purchasing process is simplified by having a system that knows everything that needs to be ordered for each job in production.
3. Production planning
Automatically schedule web-to-print and routine orders and increase productivity by optimizing workloads. Having an automated production planning process allows for scheduling jobs according to different criteria. For example, jobs can be grouped by similar characteristics, such as equipment needed, materials, colors, etc. Having the ability to automatically schedule jobs in certain sequences means the press operator doesn’t have to switch equipment as often leading to greater efficiency and a more streamlined process. Furthermore, production can determine whether certain projects should be scheduled forward or backward according to customer needs, shipping dates, etc.
4. Production workflow
MIS systems automate the creation of production orders based upon different business instructions. This allows businesses to reduce the need for double data entry, saving time and money. When using the Avanti Slingshot system, for instance, the software knows all the details of any given job – materials needs, finish size, colors, etc. All of that information can be sent to various applications including prepress software, digital front end, postpress finishing equipment, etc. Once the job has been finished, the system updates itself with relevant data, such as how much time it took to produce the job, all of which updates Avanti in real time. This virtually can eliminate the need for shop floor data in some areas as the system can automatically collect data directly from the software/hardware instead of employees having to do so manually.
Automate the shipping process with software designed to send shipping notices and tracking numbers to the customer automatically. Additionally, by automatically importing distribution lists, employees don’t have to manually enter several different shipping places. Systems with automatic integration of UPS, FedEx and local carriers can automatically fill out paperwork, generate shipping labels and ensure shippers dont have to learn UPS World Ship, FedEx Ship Manager or local courier systems for each individual shipment. Instead, all shipments are processed using a single system.
These are just some of the areas where automation can improve operations and streamline the flow of information. As customer needs continue to evolve along with an ever-changing market, automation can be a game changer for many businesses looking to keep up and keep improving.
Thank you to Avanti for providing information about automation software, particularly Avanti Slingshot print management system (MIS) software, designed to reduce operational bottlenecks and streamline information management.