Quoting: Which Path to Take?

As the print world has evolved, many companies have learned to diversify and increase their market share. We often see traditional sheet-fed printers expanding into the digital or signage space, or Flexo printers moving into the digital label space (to name but a few). This is a healthy model, ensuring that all the eggs are not placed in one basket. Printers are able to win more of their customer’s total print spend after establishing a solid relationship.

The diversification of product offerings, as good as it may seem, does present a few challenges. Often the product knowledge in the new segment is lacking, but this can be acquired with some training, and possibly a strategic hire. However, the greater challenge is pricing in uncharted waters. This becomes exponentially harder as skilled estimators, especially ones that have a broad-based knowledge of multiple print disciplines, are becoming very hard to find.

Many things can trip up an unskilled estimator, for example: What is the best way to print a series of posters? A traditional Litho press? As press automation becomes more advanced this is definitely a viable option. However, depending on the size of the run, the digital press might be the best solution. Then again, the substrate may dictate that the Wide Format sign printer might be the most viable option. How does an estimator decide which path to take especially when there are multiple sizes and quantities that have been requested?

The team at IQ are acutely aware of this scenario and have developed functionality within printlQ to help resolve the problem. The intelligence built into the pricing engine of printlQ allows the estimator to have a series of choices presented to them without having to do multiple quotes for each production path. Several features come into play in this space.

Stock Choices: printlQ allows you to pick a stock and then it will calculate the most economical way to print it. This includes looking at all the sizes available for the stock that has been chosen. Is it more economical to run it 2up on 12×18 or 4 up on 20×26 or 8 up on 26×40? With printlQ the most economical suggestion will be offered to the estimator, along with the ability to redirect to an alternate the path if so desired.

Press Choices: many systems will require you to quote a job multiple times – when you cross print disciplines. Take a 12×18 poster for instance. Theoretically it could be printed on a Litho (sheet-fed) press, a digital press or a wide format press. If all the presses are capable of printing the same stock, it might require 3 quotes to be run at the different quantities to figure out which is the most economical. With printlQ you’ll see the most economical way to print it, considering the amount of stock (including all make-ready requirements), the time it would take to run the job, the cost of the press, the cost of the operator, and the cost of the ink or toner.

This built in intelligence saves a lot of time on comparative quoting. As quantities change, the path may need to change, but all the information resides within the printlQ Quote Intelligence module to help the estimator make that decision without having to re-quote the entire job a different way. This is especially helpful when you have an estimator who is inexperienced in the multiple methods of production available in your printing plant.

We also all know that the best laid plans are often altered, when it comes to production. You may have determined the most economical way to print a job was via the wide format printer, but on the day of production you run into a problem with that machine. With printlQ you can change the production path with a couple of clicks of a mouse (or taps on a touch screen) there’s no need to re-quote, you can alter the path directly on the job. The selling price can still be maintained, allowing you to capture your costs for comparative reasons.

When using printlQ you have the versatility in both quoting and production to operate at the pace that customers now demand of their printers. You can remain agile whilst meeting the challenges that the day may present. With printlQ you get far more than just an MIS.

– Jonathan Bowen

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