Product Reviews

Print Management Systems

October 4, 2011

Designed to enhance communication between converter and customer, print management systems have helped converters to streamline their processes, better manage their inventory and track their finances, among other features. What follows is a description of available print management products and the recent developments made by several companies in the industry.

Print Management Systems

Designed to enhance communication between converter and customer, print management systems have helped converters to streamline their processes, better manage their inventory and track their finances, among other features. What follows is a description of available print management products and the recent developments made by several companies in the industry.

Tailored Solutions Inc.
Founded nearly 20 years ago by Ken Meinhardt and Dave Porter, both of whom have continued to enhance their product over the years, Label Traxx is now a popular print business management software for flexographic narrow web printers and converters. Label Traxx is a full-featured software package, with standard modules for estimating, order processing, shipping, purchasing, shop floor data collection and costing, accounts receivable, accounts payable and general ledger.

Label Traxx has recently made some significant additions and enhancements to their system. At the 2009 Labelexpo in Brussels, Label Traxx linked with Esko BackStage and an HP Indigo press. This integration of three very popular label production products has enabled Label Traxx users to fully utilize the latest technology in label printing. Using this feature, orders entered by users via the Label Traxx E-Traxx module are automatically transmitted directly to Esko BackStage, where they are formatted for the particular HP Indigo press in production.

Complex functions such as step and repeat are handled automatically using industry standard JDF protocols, which eliminate rekeying and the possibility of errors being introduced as files are moved from one stage of production to the next. The software also enables two-way communications, creating a return reporting path for monitoring equipment performance and recording production data.

At the 2010 Labelexpo in Chicago, IL, USA, the company introduced a new package printing feature, digital file planner and a direct press data collection. The package printing feature supports special processes used in printing shrink sleeves, folding cartons and other multiple press and multiple process converting procedures. It greatly simplifies estimating and running jobs which pass through as many as four presses and a rewinder.

The digital file planner enables prepress operators to automatically arrange grouped labels into files or plates for press and reduces prepress processing time by 90 percent or more in most cases. It is compatible with both conventional and digital presses, including the HP Indigo WS6000. Label Traxx direct press data collection is based on the new Label Traxx Auto Traxx encoder, a bustle wheel encoder which mounts on any press and uses a standard USB connection to record substrate roll identification and the exact length of stock to be charged to a particular job. The Auto Traxx encoder can track as many as three materials at a time, and also records average speeds, labels per hour, and the number of good and substandard labels on each run.

Computer Productivity Services Inc. (CPS)
CPS’s print management systems are Microsoft Dynamics GP-based and are securely integrated out of the box. They are designed to improve customer service and retention; track and manage expenses; and streamline processes. Available systems include CRM, financial (including payable, receivable, estimating and job costing), human resources and personnel, purchasing and inventory, shop floor and web store.

Some available features include quote entry, automatic and manual pricing, price and commission levels, sophisticated die maintenance, automatic sales tracking, order entry, time and material management, shop floor control, standard press and finishing setups, sophisticated reporting tools and a roll dimension calculator.

Microsoft Dynamics GP Business Essentials also includes a feature called E-Banking. E-Banking allows converters to offer their customers the opportunity to pay their bills electronically. Converters can also pay their vendors and balance their checkboks with the system’s e-reconcile capabilities.

Additionally, CPS offers its customers electronic support. At any point in the system, users can look up tips, troubleshoot problems, and ask questions online. CPS guarantees response times through their CustomerSource and eSupport systems.

Recently the company has made its software available as a web application. Regardless of whether a company uses Apple computers or Windows-based PCs, they can use their print management system within a web browser, thus expanding the system’s usability and accessibility among its users.

CPS has also expanded its offerings to include warehouse management. The company now offers an application in which companies can count their inventory using wireless scanners. Users scan each lot or serial number and then simply confirm the part number or quality. When the count is complete, the user uploads the data through USB cable and ODBC connection. Users can then print labels for all items counted and various reports, including inventory (sorted by any field) and combined and on-hand comparisons, and auto-generate an inventory adjustment.

CRC Information Systems Inc.
CRC is a provider of comprehensive and fully integrated business management solutions for the graphic arts 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.

CRC offers its customers a degree of integration, functionality and system integrations that is unique in the graphic arts industry. CRC has written every line of its application code with their in-house development staff that is exclusively focused on producing software for the graphic arts industry. The company delivers focused business management software solutions, comprehensive training and conversion services that support every aspect of the graphic arts industry.

CRC announced last year that its Nucleus MIS/ERP system has full integration with UPS WorldShip that streamlines and increases accuracy in company shipping workflows. The integration pulls existing customer and job data from Nucleus into UPS WorldShip to generate shipping documents and labels while UPS WorldShip returns billing and shipment information to Nucleus without the need to engage in time consuming and error prone double data entry.

As a new standard feature of CRC Nucleus, current users can activate the cost saving option by arranging an online training session with a CRC representative.

In February of this year, the company announced the release of its latest update, Version 25.0, for Nucleus. This new release adds numerous features to streamline workflows and help clients achieve greater efficiency.

The latest enhancements include:
Credit Card Functionality – Fully integrated, secure, and seamless PA DSS-certified credit card processing that allows clients to accept credit card payments and deposits from their customers while avoiding any redundant data entry.

Full FedEx Ship Manager Integration – Following up on its integration with UPS WorldShip, CRC introduces full integration with FedEx Ship Manager allowing for the free flow of data between the two programs and saving time in the shipping process.

Kit Auto Shipping – Nucleus now includes a “Ship All” function for kit orders that will automatically allow for hundreds of kits and sub-kits to be shipped from each warehouse location, eliminating hours of manual entry, with a click of a button.

Commission Hierarchy – Also added is the ability to create a commission hierarchy that allows for various commission levels based upon categories such as by customer, finished good item, product line, industry, and sales rep.

DiMS! organizing print
DiMS! contains all the functionality in one single, web-enabled, multi-lingual, multi-currency software package that integrates the complete range of administrative and printing processes for a variety of printing and graphic arts companies.

By allowing customers to harness valuable information on a centralized, web-enabled database, DiMS! provides the ability to link internal information systems, instantaneously track production data and measure results, and integrate operations with your key clients and suppliers. Eliminating the need to integrate multiple servers or employ add-ons, DiMS! streamlines and automates key business processes across the enterprise, from end-to-end.

DiMS.NET! is the latest generation of the popular DiMS! system which automates the complete range of web-enabled administrative and printing processes across an entire enterprise, helping businesses to streamline their operations, increase productivity and cut costs.

The business-enhancing benefits of DiMS.NET! include:
Easy to learn – Based on Microsoft’s latest .NET technology and featuring the familiar look and feel of Microsoft software, DiMS.NET! automatically adapts to the preferred work method of the individual user.

Smart logic – The system can be configured so that information is automatically pushed to the appropriate employee, which increases the speed of business processes, while reducing training time for new employees.

Integrated database – A single point of entry for all information decreases the risk for mistakes. Customer, job and all material information need to be entered only once.

Enhanced scheduling board – All the characteristics of each job are captured and scheduling proposes the most efficient way to run it. Scheduling can be viewed across departments, plants, and even international borders.

Web-based application – Customers can upload orders via DiMS.NET! directly to the web-based server, and order details can be delivered to all relevant areas of the company.

One click views – Enterprise-wide management views, drill downs and dashboard overviews all the way to the transaction level are standard and provide a realistic view into your production

E-learning system – Intuitive online lessons simulate the look, feel and behaviour of the actual live system and are available at any time.

EFI Radius
EFI, which acquired Radius in June 2010 and rebranded itself as EFI Radius, has over 30 years of industry experience and development in the ERP/MIS market. Its software is flexible, highly scalable and developed to address the needs of organizations operating in multi-site, multi-currency, multi-language and multi-product environments. It has been specifically designed to address the specialized processes involved in commercial print, labels, folding cartons and flexible packaging.

Earlier this year, EFI Radius released a new version of its Radius packaging MIS/ERP system, which is targeted at the small-to-medium business segment. The software is an entry-level, fully integrated automation system designed for single-site label, flexible packaging and folding carton converters.

Built on the Radius Enterprise Edition used by larger packaging companies, the new EFI Radius Small Business Edition comes with a standard suite of modules designed with a streamlined user interface to ensure that smaller companies can quickly and easily use the software to improve efficiencies and simplify workflows.

Modules in the Small Business Edition include estimating, tooling management, inventory, purchasing, scheduling, shop floor data collection and DMI (Direct Machine Interface), accounting, and a one-stop order manager. With the goal of making the system as efficient as possible, the Order Manager module is a single source location to obtain and perform job level processes, from production estimates to shipping and everything in between, without having to access multiple modules.

In February of this year, EFI announced a record year of sales in 2010 for its EFI Radius MIS/ERP software, adding more new business in the second half of 2010 than any period since Radius was founded. Two new customers are Topflight, a converter of labels and diecut components for the medical, cosmetics, consumer goods, and electronics markets; and The Robinette Company, a flexible and paper packaging manufacturer and converter serving the food, beverage, nutraceutical, construction, textile, and health care markets.

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 1st 2011, Cerm has been part of the Heidelberg company, which has given the company a tremendous opportunity for even more international expansion and logistics support. Cerm has 30 staff, 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 barcode scanners, wifi scanners for inventory purposes of finished goods and press counters for raw material. Other features include a full bidirectional JDF-link with EskoArtwork Automation Engine 10, 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 unique and robust concept providing an end-to-end solution for the label printing industry. Cerm teams up with market leaders including HP, Xeikon, AVT, EskoArtwork and GSE to build this end-to-end solution from brand owner, over the admin department to pre-press to production and back.

The modules are flexible in use and therefore the CERM package is kept simple for smaller companies but robust for bigger companies. Cerm does not just introduce new software. Instead, it helps you gain internal efficiency by using cerm best-practices, providing efficient and to-the-point training and by giving advice on your internal workflow.
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