Finding the Software Solution That's Just Right for You

From workflow solutions to packaging design, there is a software package for every converter. According to Jim Rooney, VP of sales at ei3, Montvale, NJ, functionality, ease of deployment, and total cost of ownership are key points to consider when purchasing software to support your manufacturing organization.

“The first step is to find a software package that meets the needs of your operations now but also offers scalability for the future. Since organizations are doing more with less staffing, it's important to work with a software package that offers ease of deployment or an outsourced approach to deployment. Finally, total cost of ownership should be considered when doing financial analysis between competitive products,” explains Rooney.

Dave Edmondson, VP of sales and marketing at Concord Business Systems, Kennesaw, GA, suggests converters identify the real value they will receive from a new system. “This should be done in the very early steps of the evaluation process and should be in the form of an ROI [return on investment] analysis. If this is done early in the process, both parties [converter and software vendor] will perceive the project as valuable and justifiable.”

Current software is making it easier for converters to have immediate access to process information required to make good decisions. Another key benefit of current software is that it connects the shop floor with the office, allowing converters to fix problems as they occur in production.

It's often difficult to keep up with the many developments in software. One change in recent years has been the migration of manufacturers from traditional software deployment to the use of ASP (application service provider) methods of deploying software.

“ASP services are an important alternative, not only for smaller companies with small technology budgets but also for larger companies as a form of outsourcing. Utilizing ASP software delivery can save tens of thousands in infrastructure and administration costs and countless hours in implementation,” Rooney maintains.

Jan De Roeck, marketing director for packaging software at Esko-Graphics, Gent, Belgium, describes key changes in prepress workflow software.

“Prepress technology has gone through a steady evolution during the last years. Film workflows have been replaced by specialized digital prepress workflows. Proprietary workstations and servers have been replaced by standard Intel PCs and Macs. With the advent of industry-standard data formats such as PostScript or PDF, end-users can easily integrate workstations and output devices from different vendors.

“Even though available on industry standard platforms and certificated for compatibility with PostScript and PDF, this packaging production software is still a highly specialized environment, specifically developed for high-end packaging jobs. Dedicated training and long learning curves are required to use these solutions efficiently,” continues De Roeck.

De Roeck also maintains the next wave of change in the flexo industry will be driven by converters investing in total digital solutions.

Already present in some plants, Edmondson predicts the future of software is in the Web. “It is not a case of if, but when, the Web will be a primary communication channel for converters and their customers and vendors, although the industry is somewhat slow to embrace the change.”

Restrictions of time and space limit the number of companies, products, and trends that we can discuss in these reports. For additional information, see PFFC's features and departments each month, consult the June Buyers Guide, and check

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