An efficient print management system helps converters streamline not only internal processes, but also external communication. Recently, leading providers of these products have made significant improvements, including enhanced order processing and features specific to government requirements. What follows is a description of available print management products and the recent developments made by several suppliers to the industry.
For 20 years, Label Traxx has partnered with label converters to help them streamline their operations and increase profitability. The program was founded in the Midwest by Ken Meinhardt, a former label production manager, and his business partner Dave Porter. Today, Label Traxx is one of the most popular MIS systems used by label printers in North and South America and has a growing presence in Europe. The program has evolved and grown with the needs of its customers and through developments within the industry and its technology.
Label Traxx has core modules that cover job estimating, order processing, management of raw materials and finished goods, shop floor data collection and profitability analysis, scheduling, quality control and fully-integrated management accounts. Label converters can select and focus on the modules that are relevant to their workflow.
Label Traxx also has a web portal module called eTraxx that end users can use to access real-time information and create orders online. The JDF module integrates Label Traxx order processing with EskoArtwork Automation Engine 12. This passes order information from Label Traxx into the EskoArtwork prepress software, and order status information is then passed back. This integration is particularly key for digital label manufacturers who deal with a high volume of orders on a daily basis.
Other key features include integration with major labelstock manufacturers and roll tracking using the manufacturer’s bar code labels. Labels are scanned for stock counting purposes. Label Traxx also has built-in label generation for roll-end labels, box labels and shipping labels. The software also integrates with UPS and FedEx software to streamline shipping.
Latest developments include direct interface with both the HP Indigo and Xeikon digital-front-end (DFE), new accounting features for the Latin America market and the introduction of a new product called DigiTraxx. DigiTraxx provides a link between a converter’s existing MIS - it can be any MIS - and the EskoArtwork Automation Engine.
Dedicated to the label converting industry, Label Traxx is straightforward to implement and the support team has strong hands-on experience within the industry. The company aims to partner with customers to achieve their business goals
EFI Radius has been developing and implementing business management software products for packaging and label companies for more than 30 years. Used by hundreds of companies around the world, its ERP/MIS software is flexible, scalable and developed to address the needs of organizations operating large single and multi-site plants with a requirement to manage multi-process, multi-product, multi-currency and multi-language environments.
As the largest business management software provider focused 100% on the packaging and label industry, it has been designed to address the specialized processes involved in labels, folding cartons, flexible packaging and commercial printing. Its breadth of functionality includes CRM, estimating, purchasing, inventory, MRP, scheduling, shop floor data collection, job costing, sales order management, quality management, Business Intelligence and more.
Committed to increased efficiency and constant alignment with the evolving needs of the packaging industry, EFI Radius released two new versions in 2012. New system capabilities include new streamlined estimating, strengthened multi-company reference capabilities, increased functionality for extrusions, integration advancements with third party leaders in shipping, CAD, prepress, and EFI Monarch Accounting.
The Radius Portal, another new offering, allows packaging and label companies to make information about orders, shipments, invoices and items available to their customers in real time. This minimizes the strain on customer service reps while also adding value to the customer experience. Backed by industry-experienced development, implementation, service and support teams, EFI Radius is part of the complete end-to-end workflow available from EFI.
Cerm was founded in 1984 and has been working solely for the printing industry ever since. Headquartered near Bruges, Belgium, Cerm has an installed base in 18 countries, spread over Europe, North America and South America. Since January 1, 2011, Cerm has been part of the Heidelberg company, which has given the it an opportunity for further international expansion and logistics support. Cerm has 30 staff members, about 15 of whom are employed in development, a department that is driven by customers, partners and new trends in the label printing industry. The 15 Cerm consultants guide the customers through the implementation of the system, either on-site or remotely.
Dedicated to the narrow web and flexo label industry, Cerm is a modular system, providing modules for CRM, estimating, SKU-catalog, order-processing, warehousing, inventory, scheduling, shop-floor data capture, shipping and invoicing. Moreover, Cerm has a web module called Web4Labels (W4L), enabling customer interaction for online quoting, consulting SKUs, creating SKUs, uploading design and online ordering. The back end supports the use of bar code scanners, wi-fi scanners for inventory purposes of finished goods and press counters for raw material. Other features include a full bi-directional JDF-link with EskoArtwork Automation Engine 12, full traceability of finished goods (rolls and boxes), monitoring of production through press counters, semi-finished goods, traceability of raw material through EPSMA-code, enterprise concept (multi-site) and many others.
All modules combined offer a robust concept providing an end-to-end system for the label printing industry. Cerm has teamed up with label market leaders including Gallus, HP, Xeikon, AVT, EskoArtwork and GSE to build the end-to-end system working with the brand owner, over the administration department, to prepress to production and back.
The modules are flexible in use and therefore the CERM package is kept simple for smaller companies but can be more robust for larger companies. Cerm does not just introduce new software. Instead, it helps users gain internal efficiency by using Cerm best-practices, providing efficient and to-the-point training and by giving advice on internal workflow.
CRC Information Systems
CRC is a provider of comprehensive and fully integrated business management products for the label and narrow web industry. Its software has been continuously improved over the past 30 years and is used daily to handle the operations of thousands of users. CRC products have helped their customers generate more sales, retain more profit, have better visibility of their operations and improve their relationships with their customers.
In October of 2012, CRC announced the release of its latest update of Nucleus, Version 112.1. This new release adds several enhancements:
Inventory automation, which gives clients the capability to control both raw material and finished goods inventory tracking, along with order confirmation during shipping, through the use of RFID handheld bar code scanners. In addition, work-in-process material flow can also be tracked through each production cost center as the inventory automation workflow is completely integrated with the shop floor data collection entry program.
Another feature, fingerprint verification, enhances shop floor security by validating fingerprints through a scanner before entry can be made in the shop floor data collection workstation. Production scheduling and plant view scheduling, a new program providing a complete plant view enabling drag and drop capability as well as auto-rescheduling, is being released for initial testing by select customers.
Many of the changes contained within the NUCLEUS Release 112.1 originated through continuing feedback from the National CRC Users Group and the client beta test sites.
Computer Productivity Services (CPS)
CPS’s print management system is native to Microsoft Dynamics GP since 1995 and is designed specifically for narrow and wide web converters.
New converter users in 2012 included ASL Print FX, Abbott Label and Bollin Label with more than 175 new users and the addition of many new customer driven features. New features include web access, business intelligence, word templates, document attach and business analyzer.
Standard features include quote entry, estimating, price and commission levels by product family, die maintenance, automatic sales tracking, order entry, time and material management, shop floor control, unlimited press and finishing setups, sophisticated reporting tools, drag and drop scheduling, 26 financial, seven payroll/HR, 11 supply chain, and eight customization modules. The product also makes use of Microsoft SQL reporting services, Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Office Outlook and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. CPS has also expanded its offerings to count/receive/transfer inventory using wireless scanners using Symbol/Motorola MT 2090 mobile computers and Zebra QLN Bluetooth bar code printers.
The entire product is now a true web application and available as a remotely hosted cloud service on a monthly subscription basis on the Windows Azure platform. Cloud business solutions can reduce capital costs, simplify software management, and convert fixed IT costs into variable operating costs while running a full suite of integrated Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft Office applications.
As a Microsoft-certified partner, CPS offers access to Microsoft web support, phone support, on site consulting and a network of thousands of Microsoft Dynamics GP certified professionals. Users are also increasingly making use of local GP user group meetings, Dynamics Communities blogs and training videos.
CPS is one of hundreds of Microsoft ISV software companies who develop applications for Microsoft Dynamics GP. CPS is also a Symbol Motorola ISV partner and a Zebra technologies ISV partner.
Software assurance from CPS and Microsoft ensure a clear statement of long-term direction and long-term support for our applications. CPS also offers source code escrow subscription services to its end users for its print management system through Escrow Associates LLC for a small annual fee.
Hybrid Software focuses on a broader category of print management systems, called Order Lifecycle Management – the management of an order (for printed labels, printing plates, digital files, etc.) from initial customer contact throughout the entire production and delivery process.
Hybrid’s software products enable communication between prepress equipment and workflow software – as well as planning, accounting, administration software and databases – thereby avoiding duplicate data entry.
Features offered by Hybrid Software include FrontDesk, FaceLift and FileForce. FrontDesk offers a web-to-print portal that offers customers powerful file upload and download facilities. It also provides comprehensive order management throughout the entire production lifecycle, from online ordering through all stages of tracking, proofing and approvals to delivery of the completed work. Optional components of FrontDesk include integrated soft proofing and annotation systems and online editing, among others.
FaceLift provides a toolset for JDF integration between production workflows – which require very specialized parameters – and MIS systems, which typically have very generic prepress instructions.
FileForce connects multiple production or printing sites within an enterprise. FileForce can work in conjunction with local file servers at each location, rather than requiring a centralized server. File versions can be moved, copied, harvested, scrapped, archived and tracked precisely across multiple sites as revisions occur throughout the order lifecycle.
As long as systems use standard database platforms, Hybrid can integrate them. Hybrid has close working relationships with MIS vendors such as EFI, Solarsoft, CRC, EPMS and others, as well as content management companies such as ADAM, and prepress workflow vendors such as Esko, Dalim Software and others.
Print Management Systems
The newest generation of print management systems streamline internal processes and communication with customers.
By Catherine Diamond
Published January 23, 2013