A deep-rooted desire to deliver unmatched customer service inspired the launch of digital commercial printer Printivity a decade ago and has remained the driving force guiding its steady growth and financial success. A decade after the company’s founder Lawrence Chou had a poor print buying experience and vowed to build a company that simplified the process for customers, the organization recently set its sights on automation as the next logical step in its process improvement evolution. With the help of Significans Automation, Printivity’s spirit of innovation continues to define its success as it drives inefficiencies out of the business and improves the bottom line.
Finding The Right Fit
In April of 2022, Lucero Kabashima, prepress manager at Printivity’s New Jersey production facility, set out to identify process bottlenecks and potential savings and efficiencies within her nine-person department. They had purchased some automation software – Enfocus Switch and Pit Stop Server – but quickly realized that they needed help with implementation to unlock its full potential. After an extensive review of potential suppliers, one company stood out above all others: Significans Automation.
Doing her due diligence, Kabashima began by short-listing a group of potential vendors based on preliminary online research. After finding Significans Automation listed on Enfocus’ Website as one of the vendor’s highest-tiered implementation partners, she was immediately impressed by the customer case studies she read and the positive feedback she received when she called their references.
Perhaps what struck Kabashima most was the level of responsiveness and the highly personal approach she received from the team very early in the vendor review process. For example, where other vendors were content to communicate solely via email, Significans took a more familiar approach and reached out via phone and video chat to better understand her department’s specific challenges, and also provided additional resources to help demystify the automation journey ahead. Similarly, other suppliers promised results in unrealistically short time frames and seemed more keen on selling their solution versus building something truly customized to Printivity’s needs.
“Other companies gave us a sense that we were just another customer,” explains Kabashima. “But Significans showed that they really cared and were more invested in our long-term success.”
According to Marc Raad, President of Significans Automation, “We consider ourselves fortunate when a valued customer like Printivity engages with us, particularly when they have a clearly defined strategy. It gives us the ability to guide the project based on a process improvement plan with quantifiable results.”
Printivity operates two production facilities in New Jersey and California, both similarly equipped with digital printing that is sold exclusively online, direct to marketers and other customers through the company’s Web site. The bulk of the orders are for marketing products like saddle-stitched booklets, business cards, and other printed collateral.
The company prides itself on its ability to help small businesses and entrepreneurs create print, and has always sought ways to reduce waste and
improve customer service. For Kabashima who had risen in the prepress ranks to supervisor in a few short years, this meant improving turnaround times and streamlining processes to automate cumbersome production issues. The potential for poor quality and bad customer service had to be driven out of the business wherever feasible. So Kabashima’s challenge became how to improve throughput, automate repetitive work, reduce errors, and support growth within the organization without adding prepress personnel.
With artwork coming in from a wide range of online customers with various levels of production savvy, files are often submitted in the wrong format, with incorrect dimensions, or missing crucial information like crop marks and bleeds. In the past, a lot of time was spent manually resizing files and making these necessary adjustments to make sure the order comes out as expected. But with Significans Automation guiding the automation, the company now uses software to automate these repetitive, day-to-day tasks, freeing up prepress personnel to focus on higher value creative work, particularly in graphic design.
The next targets for improvement were inefficiencies when preflighting warnings arose. “Whenever we had preflight warnings, prepress manually reviewed the files, looked at the warnings, and they added notes to the order and that got sent to the customer for follow-up, but now the software has taken over a lot of this work too,” explains Kabashima. “Significans Automation set up a system where the preflight warnings get translated automatically and added into notes within Enfocus Switch so that prepress really just needs to open an order, review it make sure everything comes out correctly.”
All of this automation has had an incredible impact on the bottom line. By automating repetitive tasks and redeploying staff to higher-value functions, Kabashima reports a decrease in prepress staff hours of about 50 percent, with 25 percent fewer orders in her department requiring manual work.
She is also proud to report that the time it takes an average file to go through the prepress department has been reduced by a whopping 31 percent! Overall Kabashima estimates that these automation-related efficiencies have translated to savings of over $7,500 per month, a figure she expects to increase exponentially over the coming months.
“An added benefit of these time savings and automation is that we are now able to take on more business, so I’ve given management the green light to beef up our marketing efforts to expand our product lines and get more orders,”
For example, the company can now offer more options and colors for spiral and wire-bound booklets because automation has simplified the associated prepress work that made those options cumbersome. Future product line expansion includes the addition of spot UV and raised foil options for its business cards, which were not offered before because the options were too time-consuming and complicated to process efficiently.
“In the past, we didn’t have time to offer these kinds of products, explains Kabashima. “But now we have room to expand because we’ve made the whole system more efficient through automation.”
Andrew Oswood, Significans Automation’s Workflow Specialist, manages the development of Printivity’s automation and is Kabashima’s main point of contact. He explains that his job is always more effective when clients are diligent and actively engaged like this one.
“Lucero and the team at Printivity are very detail-oriented and have provided great feedback throughout the process to help develop workflow optimizations,” explains Oswood. “Their level of process customization has been a fun challenge to come up with dynamic solutions for, and as they grow and need additional assistance with their systems, I look forward to continuing our partnership.”
Further automation work is being added to tweak the way customer complaints are handled and rectified, and Kabashima believes there are still more gains to be made and benefits to be realized.
Overall, the process of improving efficiencies in prepress has been an overwhelming success thanks to Kabashima’s diligence, the company’s commitment to process improvement, and the knowledge and experience that Significans Automation brought to the table.
“When we set out on this journey, we weren’t just looking for a vendor,” concludes Kabashima. “We wanted a partner relationship that could help us best navigate our foray into the world of automation, and we found that partner in Significans Automation.”
Printivity (www.printivity.com) is a national, privately-owned online printer committed to fast turnarounds, exceptional customer service, and a selection of products that are geared towards helping companies market and promote themselves.