February 8, 2023 By PrintAction Staff
When we made the decision to become a 100 per cent digital service provider we were aware that – despite adopting a Socratic style of robust co-operative dialogue – we ignored a good number of challenges that we were going to face as well as their possible solutions.
At that time we were highly focused on developing the best response for our existing market while maintaining a keen eye on the future.
In the past the printing industry based operational strategies on production capacity availability. But that no longer works for today’s fast paced, quickly changing, and highly demanding times. Now an effective strategy is shaped around the needs of customers. They want greater flexibility, smaller runs, and more services.
With the decision made to go 100 per cent digital, we started our investigation and analysis.
It revealed uncertainties, complex criteria, and difficulty in drawing an objective road map. It was a challenging start where certainties were scarce and elusive. Given this backdrop it would have been easy to rethink and postpone the decision, even if we knew that taking the road to 100 per cent digital was inevitable. However, vision and determination moved us forward.
For those who are interested in learning from our experience, there are three major areas that should be considered and I will share some reflections on each of them. Spoiler: having reliable and committed partners is key.
1 Changing technology
Any comfort we felt with the printing equipment we understood disappeared when making comparisons between devices that were never unequivocal or fully quantifiable. That reality was ultimately a blessing for Tórculo. When making the investment decision we soon understood that just as important as the web press and its performance was the overall quality of the supplier. No machine performs the transformation on its own. Plus, the risk of obsolescence in investments that have long payback periods.
2 Transforming people
Tórculo is an ecosystem in itself, as are all printing companies as far as I know. Ecosystems are formed by technologies, processes, and people. The first two are clearly digitizable, but what about people? This can be quite a challenge. Digital transformation affects the collective but ignoring the fact that the collective is made up of individuals can have far reaching consequences. In production it will be people who will have to move from the understood and known sheetfed offset technology to the new and unknown web-fed inkjet press. We believe a good operator is always a good operator, and our team has proven it. As a result, we just needed good training and a plan to involve them and allay their fears.
Fears, however, are not confined to the production floor. Sales and marketing teams have spent years, decades even, gaining the trust of customers with offset technology at the heart of the offering. Suddenly, the addition of a digital inkjet press required a rethink of strategies, targets, and value propositions.
3 Managing increased production
In Tórculo, we have always employed good levels of automation, but our transformation forced us to climb one more step. Or several. The digital technology raised our production capacity and our ability to take it to market.
The installation and testing processes that ran in parallel in our workshop and in our prepress area raised some potentially significant problems, dilemmas and needs.
Today I can proudly say that Tórculo’s workflow is one of the best in the industry for robustness, flexibility, and automation. We believe the future value of the graphic industry rests in how we respond to all the changes and transformations that our clients are also experiencing.
Jacobo Bermejo is CEO of Tórculo Communications, a graphic communications specialist in Spain
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