ping or a roller was wearing out, instead of waiting until the machine suddenly failed during an important job? You probably use preventative maintenance to keep those breakdowns from happening today, relying on the skill and experience of the service technician. Most of them are great, but service professionals won’t be able to catch problems that develop between PMs. Smarter hardware can be more reliable, resulting in longer up-time and higher productivity. Modern printing presses and finishing equipment already offer automated set-up functionality. By storing the settings and parameters in the device’s memory, operators can simply choose a job profile from a menu and the machines will make adjustments on their own. Look for future functionality here to automate fine-tuning adjustments or eliminate operator intervention. Machines may be able to set up themselves based on attributes of the job such as page dimensions, cut marks, or envelope window location. Automated set-up eliminates
the chance of operator error caused by selecting the wrong job profile. Inside and Outside Communication Smart factories are adopting standards that allow equipment from different manufacturers to communicate with each other. A printer might alert an inserting device or bindery equipment, for instance, to be sure it is ready to accept the work when the print job is finished. External communication among systems may also be possible. A workflow platform might provide daily mail volume estimates to the presort vendor, for example, so they can efficiently schedule their pickup routes. The software could handle this task automatically. Human-originated phone calls and emails would no longer be required. A New Way of Working Some of these automation measures may sound far-fetched, and not every print/mail facility will implement them. However, the technology to accomplish these things already exists or is likely to
be available soon. Companies that take advantage of automation and technologies like AI will have an advantage. They will do more work at a lower cost than their competitors. Up to now, the skills most valued in mail operations employees have been associated with machine operation, productivity, people management, and planning. As document factories become more automated, I predict the most valuable employees will be those who understand how to connect processing systems, evaluate data, and manage the intelligent software and hardware running in their shops.
Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants helps his clients meet the challenges they encounter in document operations and creates informational content for vendors and service providers in the document industry. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, send a connection request on LinkedIn, or contact Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2021
Mailing Systems Technology July/August 2021