You'll see us talking about automation and integration a lot as they are key topics when looking into what an MIS can do to help your print business gain a competitive edge. However, it's important to know the difference between the two, so our Workflow Solutions Specialist, John Murphy, has taken us through the differences...
Automation focuses on reducing labor costs, or even eliminating them entirely. Automation projects often remove manual input mechanisms and replace them with fully automated processes, helping orders fly through the factory and removing bottlenecks. These types of projects tend to be personalized and tailored to an individual site and normally focus on a specific type of product (web-to-print or regular and repetitive products). Most wasted time is usually at the ‘front’ of the workflow – order entry, artwork proofing and invoicing, so automation projects tend to focus on this area. They lend themselves perfectly to products of a similar type where the artwork and method of input is consistent and controlled.
In short, automation projects aim to create a process where data is entered in once and nobody needs to touch it again.
Integration is the handing-off of data from one piece of software to another. In the Tharstern world, an integration project involves getting our MIS to talk with other software products, eradicating touchpoints and bringing departments closer together with the help of technology. In some cases, this may mean merging different departments entirely and creating a larger customer facing team.
In short, integration projects aim to take data and move it downstream to the next piece of software, where an operator adds value to it, and then once more moves it downstream to the next piece of software.
Hopefully this explanation has helped you differentiate between an integration project and an automation project! If you're looking to take on either of these projects, speak to your MIS partner because they'll be more than happy to offer their advice.