When service providers look at their workflows, or consider implementing a modified or completely new workflow, many factors come into play. Automation is of course the ultimate goal. Increasing throughput, decreasing the number of labor-intensive human “touches”, and making it easier to handle exceptions are just a few of the many benefits that come from automation.
In previous blog posts we have discussed the importance of integrations, how workflow should be a critical component when migrating to inkjet production, how to address “hidden” manual tasks, undocumented production tasks, and have taken a look at what goes on behind the scenes in “The Work Behind the Workflow”.
But what about visibility? How effective is a production workflow if you don’t have a tool that will track every step of your production, keep your staff immediately informed of any errors or problems, and provide the capability to assess and report on production processes?
Visibility, encompassing both real-time monitoring as well as comprehensive and flexible reporting, is a workflow component that is sometimes an afterthought, but should be considered a vital element of an effective production workflow. A view into your workflow not only allows you to collect and analyze key performance indicators, such as service level performance, errors and equipment utilization; but it will also give your staff the real-time monitoring they need to stay on top of production and respond promptly to any problems.
When we think about visibility it quickly becomes clear that there are two aspects to this important module.
- Real-time monitoring
In order to truly manage an automated production workflow, you will need to be able to easily track all jobs from when they enter the workflow until they’re successfully output and distributed. Real-time monitoring should provide a range of views – from a high level “what’s going on” big picture assessment to a more detailed look at specific jobs or pieces of equipment. It should be easily accessible, which in today’s world means mobile-friendly, and should support the ability to be configured so that it can deliver alerts when there’s a problem. A monitoring tool should support different permission sets and views, including the option to give your customers a pre-defined view of their jobs.
Robust and customizable reporting will ensure accountability but can also offer valuable insights into the performance of the hardware and software as well as labor utilization being used in production. Metrics such as overall throughput, errors, downtime, prep time and other workflow related processes and activities will provide accurate data to drive business decisions and future investments. And of course, configurable reports for your customers gives you and them valuable information that will go a long way in supporting a productive and successful relationship with your customers.