In a previous blog, we explained how many print-shop owners whose businesses appear to be growing, make the spur-of-the-moment decision to buy expensive new printing or finishing equipment and/or hire new staff – without objectively thinking through the future financial consequences. And who can blame them? They get caught up in the excitement of a shiny new machine and having the “latest technology” on the market to impress current and potential customers. However, these emotion-fuelled decisions can often be a time bomb for future financial failure. There are many reasons.

The “clicking” time bomb

The first reason is the fact that most of the time, the costs of maintenance (and often consumables) for these digital masterpieces are charged by the number of copies you produce. In other words, you pay a “click charge.” A click charge can be defined as one rotation of a printing cylinder. For example, if you print 100 copies on one side, you will pay a set maintenance/consumable fee based on 100 impressions or “clicks.” If these copies are printed on two sides (i.e., duplexed) you’ll be charged for 200 copies.

So, in reality, you’re also working for the press manufacturer – not just yourself!

Click charges vary depending on the type of equipment as well as the manufacturer, dealer, and the deal that was arranged when your lease was signed. Also, depending on your contract, per-click can mean one click per piece of paper, or one click per size of paper. So, for example, an 11-inch-by-17-inch sheet can sometimes be classified as two clicks. Click charges can also vary depending on whether a black and white copy or a color copy is output. So, most pricing/estimating for print jobs is based mostly on calculating the cost per impression.

The “ticking’ time bomb

Another reason is the the financial burden and uncertainty of hiring new employees who may or may not stay with your company – and who will likely require several weeks of training. Finding, hiring, and retaining skilled employees remains one of the major problems in the printing industry today. There are many reasons, according to a March 6, 2023, feature in Printing Impressions written by Toni McQuilken.

First, there is a growing lack of highly trained personnel as older generations retire. Second, there has been a major reduction in the last decade of school programs that expose students to manufacturing jobs as a career choice. Third, there is a perception that printing is a messy, labor-intensive job, and not an ideal career choice. Fourth, there is a lack of active, consistent industry recruitment, so those who do make their way into print do so more by accident. Finally, there is a lack of training and ongoing mentoring, making it easier for employees to seek out other careers.

Automation turns time bombs into revenue streams

“I completely understand the urge to expand by buying the latest and best printing and finishing equipment first, and hiring new staff,” said Marc Raad, President of Significans Automation. Raad is a 30-year industry veteran who was once a printing equipment sales executive himself. “But I also understand the often-overlooked downsides in addition to click charges – ongoing maintenance, replacement parts, cost of consumables, over-utilization of limited resources, taking up of valuable shop-floor space, and so on. Not to mention the risks and high salaries associated with hiring skilled employees to operate these machines – who down the road, may or may not stay with your company.”

Stop ‘mortgaging’ your business
Raad’s solution: Maximize automation in your current operation, and you may not need to buy expensive new equipment or hire new staff.

“Compared to hardware purchases and adding staff, the cost of deploying customized automation – to get the most out of the equipment and personnel you already have – is minimal. With automation software, there are no click charges, valued maintenance costs, no salaries to pay, no sick days or holidays taken, and fewer errors finding their way into production. Too many printers today are ‘mortgaging’ their business and going into needless long-term debt, when they are sitting on one of the biggest opportunities of their lifetime: Automation which can ‘future-proof’ a shop and can provide a faster ROI.”

An extension of your own company
The ideal situation, Raad explained, is to have an integration ‘partner’ – an extension of your own business who can guide you through key hardware, software and even personnel investments. For example, in 2019, an InfoTrends study evaluated labor costs for 12 common workflow steps, from artwork design to correcting customer files. The results? The average North American print shop could save up to $800,000 (USD) a year for all 12 tasks!

“This represents one of the biggest missed opportunities in the printing industry today,” said Raad, “because the proven benefits of workflow technology resulting in an unmanned ‘lights-out’ operation are beyond question.”

Raad cited the success of his current clients who’ve adopted customized workflow automation and have experienced about a 30% increase in yearly printing capacity, several hours of labor reduced to a few minutes, job prep times reduced from 8 hours to mere minutes, prepress productivity increased from 10 to over 50 jobs a day, labor costs cut by over 50%, and a return on investment in weeks or months, rather than in years.

Future-proof your printing business now
“Most printers are likely sitting on a time bomb right now and don’t even realize it,” said Raad. “Whether it’s clicking or ticking is irrelevant. It can explode at any time, destroying any profits you had hoped for? We can help you navigate the best hardware, software and even staffing options – to reduce your costs significantly, avoid unnecessary future debt, become more efficient and more self-sufficient, and ‘future proof’ your printing business. And we’ve got the actual numbers to prove it!”

For an assessment of your shop’s specific workflow automation needs, please call Significans Automation at 1-877-463-4465 or visit

Don’t miss out on significant, untapped growth opportunities for your print shop.

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