By Craig Lewis, Director, Corporate Sales, Ricoh Graphic Communications, Ricoh Europe
After the last few years, we have been forced to reconsider many different aspects of our lives including our workplaces which have experienced significant changes. The overall purpose of inhouse print rooms and how they have been working have been re-evaluated too.

This was something we assessed in our own Room for Print in 2021 report, co-authored by Ralf Schlözer, The Digital Print Expert, and Kasper Roos, Founder and CEO of Aspire. We found that inhouse print rooms remain mission critical. They supply their organisations with essential documents and services that maintain its operation.

That being said, today, corporate functions are being placed under greater pressure to demonstrate value to their parent organisations and find new ways to survive and thrive.

In house print rooms are no exception and are no stranger to these demands. They are facing budgetary challenges and want to add more services, but some are not clear about where to start. They are also managing more work and a greater variety of jobs. At the same time 80% expect their print volumes to increase in the next three years and 60% expect an uplift in mail piece volumes.

These were among the findings of Keypoint Intelligence research conducted in partnership with Ricoh Corporation. Respondents came from 50 inplant print rooms in America, representing multiple vertical industries.

The Keypoint Intelligence survey highlighted the need to expand services to attract business and be more efficient by delivering greater value or producing increased quantities with a lower budget.

Necessary too, is greater process optimisation, interoperability, and scalability of all resources. These will demonstrate cost savings and improved business performance. They can be delivered via three components – a well-integrated e-commerce or web-to-print system, a fully integrated MIS system and integrated workflow technologies.

These components support the transition to becoming an integrated resource centre (IRC), and the report found that inhouse print rooms are in fact slowly evolving into IRCs. Today 42% of respondents are IRCs. This is expected to grow to 60% in the next few years. Essential to a smooth transition to becoming an IRC is well integrated e-commerce or web to print system, MIS, and workflow technologies. They help ensure greater process optimisation, interoperability, and scalability for improved cost savings and business performance.

So, print rooms need to lever technology to meet their existing needs while coming up with ways to offer new services.

Other recommendations from KPI included:

Streamlining job submission – the smooth and efficient handling of a greater number of jobs is increasingly essential. As such 15% of inhouse print rooms were planning to implement web to print soon.

Improving software adoption – over three quarters of inhouse print rooms were using pre-press/pre-flight workflow software and/or job management and scheduling software. Key areas for planned investments were production workflow automation, data collection/analytics dashboards, and job management/scheduling.

Focusing on automation – automation is key to adding value, but operations must prioritise both print and digital workflows to generate growth.

Enhancing integration – the most common area of planned integration was reporting and dashboard tools (22%). Interest in integrating with ERP and CRM systems was registered by 15% of respondents.

Expanding multichannel/omnichannel delivery – only 13% of respondents were offering these services but 17% were planning to implement them soon.

With so many ways to make a difference there is much that inhouse print rooms can do to evolve and become an integrated resource centre. From exploring the opportunities and operational efficiencies of web to print, to intelligent software adoption that is tailored more accurately to business needs and managing digital documents efficiently and effectively.

In response to this, Ricoh is focused on helping print rooms find the best options to move ahead with automated workflow with simple online tools – starting with job onboarding and online ordering. Using Ricoh’s Print Room Connect Workflow Assessment tool, you can discover the right options for your e-commerce plans and get your print room online.


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