Sustainability is understandably an area of concern for the print industry just as much as it is for the rest of the world. And as consumer demand for more environmentally friendly products grows, printers are under more pressure than ever to make their business greener.
You’ve probably already realized you can use your MIS software to help with this - by swapping to electronic job tickets instead of paper, for example, or encouraging digital file sharing. But in this article, we’d like to suggest 5 more ways that your print MIS can help you on your journey to becoming more sustainable.
Use ganging and optimization to increase both profitability and sustainability
A good print estimating software or MIS solution will automatically help you identify a selection of ways to manufacture the product ranging from the cheapest cost (which can often, although not always, be the most efficient process of manufacture too) as well as the most optimized method to reduce waste and increase sustainability, using the best sheet size etc. So, you can evaluate which option presents the most sustainable method. You could even consider presenting your customer with options such as a ‘Need it now price’ vs ‘Sustainable price’.
Within estimating, features like Tharstern’s Sheet Optimization will combine multiple products onto one sheet in the most efficient layouts, saving both production time and reducing material waste. You get the best of both worlds by simultaneously increasing profitability AND sustainability, giving you the opportunity to be more competitive with your pricing.
Similarly at the production stage, Job Ganging functionality will optimize the process by combining jobs with common finishing processes, saving material and reducing the number of runs.
Feedback from previous waste margins will also help you identify if margins can be reduced and stop overestimating waste sheets.
You can choose Replacement Material as an alternative material for makeready in your estimates, so you’re simply re-feeding used stock rather than wasting new. Not only is this a more sustainable practice, but it will save you money too.
Monitor your stock levels
The Inventory feature of your print MIS tells you which materials you have in stock, their expiry date and which need using first, helping you make the best use of the stock you have and keeping stock holding to a minimum.
Monitoring your stock levels will also help you optimize your purchasing. By reducing the frequency of orders and increasing quantities or combining orders, you’ll in turn reduce waste, reduce the number of deliveries, and get more for your money.
Calculate the FSC or PFC claim of your products
Every MIS is different, but some MIS solutions (including Tharstern) will calculate the FSC claim for different products based on the material used. That can then be displayed on all your necessary paperwork, like quotes, delivery notes and invoices, so customers can see how sustainable their purchase is.
This feature makes FSC / PFC reporting much simpler, because you have all the metrics you need and can keep record of how much material was used and wasted.
Be aware of your carbon footprint and work towards offsetting it
Any business striving for sustainability should be aware of the impact their actions have on the environment. For printing companies this means tracking everything in your supply chain down to materials, equipment, man hours, fuel, etc and using it to calculate your carbon footprint. Doing this will also help you target larger companies who demand this from their suppliers – something which we hear is becoming increasingly common.
It’s obviously going to take quite a bit of time to manually record all this information and then carry out the relevant calculations, which is why we’ve developed an integration to Carbon Quota – a carbon measurement and consultancy company that specializes in independent and science-based carbon footprint calculation.
This is how the integration works… when you’re creating an estimate in Tharstern, the MIS will take into consideration everything known about the jobs being produced (like the materials used, how long it will take to manufacture and which equipment and resource are needed, packaging, shipping and many other elements.) This data is then passed into the Carbon Quota application, which calculates a scientific driven carbon footprint for each of the products in the quote.
You can then include the carbon footprint on the quote letter and even offer your customers the option of paying a surcharge to offset it. There are different ways of doing this and working towards reducing your carbon footprint (which Carbon Quota can advise you on) but as an example, we recently heard of a packaging company who have committed to offsetting their carbon footprint over the next 15 years by paying for mangroves trees to be planted.
Use production scheduling to make jobs more efficient
Producing one print job at a time is obviously a very inefficient way to go about things. But that’s definitely one area your Management Information Solution will be able to help! By making use of the production scheduling functionality within your MIS, you’ll be able to better plan your jobs and maximize the capacity of your equipment. All of this increases efficiency and, in turn, the sustainability of your business.
It’s clear that there are lots of benefits from becoming a more sustainable company, both from an environmental point of view, and a business one. So, if you’re looking for ways to improve in this area, whether this is driven by your clients, a way to differentiate your business, profit or good old corporate social responsibility, consider using your software and systems, like your MIS, to help – it’s a great tool to help you increase efficiency, reduce waste and calculate your carbon footprint.
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