Workflow Automation as Easy as HBO

Workflow Automation as Easy as HBO
By Helene Smith

It’s a pleasant surprise to learn that something is simpler than you anticipated. Like HBO. I have a vague memory of getting “pay TV” when I was a kid – and remember wondering where my parents would put paper money into the cable (converter) box. When I saw that the programming came through by just changing the channel, and without paying money first, I was excited.

“Frame of reference” is a scientific term, but we use it in our everyday vernacular, as well. When I was 3 or 4, my frame of reference for seeing a “movie” was what I saw at the theater: you paid at the box office, and received a ticket to enter and watch. My frame of reference for watching TV was that you simply turned it on. I didn’t expect instant gratification. In the way I define the term, “frame of reference” is what you know to be the range of possibilities for something; more specifically, it can be what you consider the “standard” or most popular possibility within that range.

If you are reading this, you have a frame of reference for workflow automation. You probably understand, have seen, and/or possess automation that begins after creation and approval; i.e., when the job enters production. There are many companies that offer automation for the production part of the workflow.

What is your frame of reference for everything that happens before that, though? Pat McGrew, the Director and Evangelist of the InfoTrends Production Workflow Service (a service of Keypoint Intelligence), defines the processes of onboarding as follows:

Onboarding is the set of processes that start when a customer places an order and ends when the job is in the production workflow. It includes acquisition of the final job specifications, print files, associated data and resource files, job ticketing, logging the job into the accounting system, establishing proofing requirements, defining delivery requirements, and defining the payment methods.

Yeah, all that.

Viewed as one of the most painful parts of the job, every stakeholder – and especially print service providers – say that this is by far their biggest bottleneck[1]. Getting quotes, customer approval, changes, the right media, permissions, POs, art… it can take hours, days, and even weeks. In fact, it is why arifiQ’s co-founders started the company! Raised in printing, they saw the quote approval process as the biggest detriment to throughput… and profit.

What they did, then, was to invent a product that gets all of onboarding done, and more – no matter how complex or custom the job is – in a few seconds.

An accurate quote based on real-time device and inventory availability. An accurate quote on a complex, custom job. Online estimating.

With its cloud-based application in use at a growing number of sites worldwide, arifiQ knows that people do not grasp the huge benefit of its solution because a few seconds for a custom quote – based on real device and inventory availability, no less – seems impossible.

This is because no one has seen, or done it, before. It’s no one’s frame of reference.

However, there is now a new standard for onboarding turnaround time, and it’s under a minute. It’s time to add this to your frame of reference.

This means your salespeople can give a customer a quote onsite. The salesperson or the customer themselves can look at different – real — quotes while they are reviewing mockups for a campaign, even. From anywhere. They can add devices, change inventory, change the job. And still get a quote in seconds.

The arifiQ application does more.  It can gather all the rest of the information Pat McGrew refers to in her onboarding definition, above; keeping it as XML data in the file itself, and/or accessing and sharing via a connection to an MIS or ERP[2].

There’s more, but I’m afraid to push your limits on a frame of reference like this one.

Fine, I’ll just tell you:

When arifiQ puts the estimate together – in seconds — it considers (and specifies) the most efficient production path, as well. This is called optimizing the workflow – and get this: when you submit the job, arifiQ creates an imposed PDF of the file.

Bottom line, you can now turn quotes around in seconds, starting at $56 per month for one sheetfed press[3].  Get approval in the next breath, and arifiQ can tell your production automation solution – maybe Enfocus Switch, or Agfa Apogee, or another – what the most efficient workflow will be… and those solutions can automate production accordingly.

Pat McGrew and her colleague at Keypoint Intelligence, Ryan McAbee, recently saw a demonstration of the latest version of arifiQ. McGrew says, “The new arifiQ Optimizer is a great option for printers who do a wide variety of work and want to optimize ganging and imposing. Pair it with the arifiQ quoting tools and this is a powerful onboarding and production solution.”

When you grow up and get a job in this industry, that can sound better than getting HBO.

 

[1] (Ref: RIT Study and Zwang/Sherburne article in WTT)
[2] arifiQ offers an MIS module, as well
[3] Pricing is determined by device. $56 is for a 14 x 20, sheetfed offset press, 1-7 colors.

arifiQ Optimizer

New arifiQ Optimizer Automatically Creates Gang Runs & Imposed PDFs of Custom Jobs – Without Need of Predefined Templates, Products and Sheet Sizes 

<https://arifiq.com/video-2/>
New arifiQ Optimizer Automatically Creates Gang Runs & Imposed PDFs of Custom Jobs – Without Need of Predefined Templates, Products and Sheet Sizes 
  • Turn-arounds are substantially faster
  • Print workflows receive gang run and single job imposition data directly from new, stand-alone application
arifiQ Development today announces the new arifiQ Optimizer, which identifies the most cost-optimized imposition and production paths for single and gang-run jobs; automatically creates sheet-sized, imposed PDFs; and transfers the imposed PDFs directly to any prepress or digital workflow system. arifiQ Optimizer will be available as a stand-alone application via the cloud or desktop on December 1.
arifiQ Optimizer

Screengrab of the arifiQ Optimizer showing Gang-Run imposition sheets and production specs calculated and ready to submit to the hotfolder as Imposed PDFs. The operation takes one click, 3 seconds, and no human decision-making.

 

No Templates Necessary

One of the greatest competitive benefits of arifiQ Optimizer is that it does not require use of predefined templates; resulting in substantial time savings and many more options for ganging. It also eliminates numerous human touches in production planning and prepress (production path, lay-out/impositions).

“This functionality is a dream come true for both the production manager and the prepress operator,” says Stefan Karlsson, CTO at arifiQ. “We have wanted to plug this gap because it has long been a process in desperate need of automation.
“Without the arifiQ Optimizer,” Karlsson says, “it takes significant time and effort to calculate file layouts for Ganging in an efficient way. Also, while imposition templates may handle the most common products, it takes a long time to find the right ones. Most importantly, stakeholders will not enjoy the savings, and other benefits, of optimized production.”

How it Works 
First, arifiQ Optimizer accepts any number of PDFs. Then, in a period of time that only spans a few seconds to a few minutes, the Optimizer calculates the most cost-effective and least wasteful imposition and job production path. The single or gang run jobs are automatically transferred to the prepress- or digital workflow system as imposed PDF sheets. A video showing the process is available at https://arifiq.com/video-2/.

What are the Benefits?

The Optimizer is a substantial time saver for prepress operators, as the tasks of selecting a press, finding the right templates and paper sizes, and doing the layout of the pages, are all taken care of. The Optimizer eliminates the vast majority of choices and checkboxes in a typical prepress system (along with the risk of human error). The imposed PDF files are stored in a hot folder, to be picked up by a traditional prepress or digital workflow system, and then the sheets can be released to CTP or a digital press.

When combined with arifiQ PRO’s quote and order system, arifiQ Optimizer offers a true, automated workflow starting at the print customer or the sales person, and progressing through to production. arifiQ technology can also be integrated with MIS/order systems.

About arifiQ Development

arifiQ Development is a Swedish company that has, and will continue to, develop several applications, plug-ins, and modules based on its unique and powerful technology platform.

The idea that catalyzed arifiQ’s establishment was the founders’ recognition that the wait for quotes, and then approvals, was a major cause of frustration for customers and printers, both. They felt that solving the problem by making the quote process faster could have major, positive ramifications for the industry. The company built a core technology, the arifiQ engine, in order to develop what is now the flagship product in the arifiQ product family: arifiQ PRO.

The arifiQ product family today includes the new arifiQ Optimizer, arifiQ PRO, Plug-in for InDesign, deQuote for quick print, and a Large-Scale Estimator for enterprise and high volume environments. The arifiQ MIS modules are: Gang-Run, Scheduling, Stock Control, Extended Statistics and Multi-Site. arifiQ also develops custom APIs so that any system or application can utilize arifiQ technology.

For more information, contact arifiQ at info@arifiq.com.
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All products and services are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners and are hereby acknowledged.

The New Role of Estimating – Article by Richard Romano in Printing News November issue

We love that Romano is putting the light on the subject and his progressive conclusions; “There was a time when it seemed like estimating a print job was one of the occult arts, a plant’s estimator being a kind of Delphic oracle who, when presented with an RFQ, would go into a trance and, some time later, reveal the number to be passed on to the potential customer. It was an estimate based on experience, with nosmall amount of “secret sauce.”

The wrap-up featuring arifiQ:

“Shop owners need to change their mindset. “People don’t like to have their knowledge put into a system so that then everyone can do estimating,” said Rosen, “but that’s the way it has to be. It’s not the printer who sets the agenda, it’s the customer. If they are used to getting pricing and placing orders online in a very fast and transparent way, print will seem like an old technology.” It can thus drive people away from wanting to print at all. And haven’t we had enough of that already?”

Read the complete article at page 12-16 at PrintingNews.com

Ricoh Features Agfa and arifiQ in First-of-Its-Kind Automation Demonstration

Oslo — June 6, 2017 — Unprecedented speed and cost-optimization for automated workflows was demonstrated by arifiQ, Agfa and Ricoh at Ricoh’s “Magical Days” customer event this week, here in Oslo. The three companies teamed-up to show Ricoh’s guests how the combination of each organization’s intelligent technologies dramatically reduces the wait between RFQ and press — from days; to just minutes.

Agfa Graphics Norway’s Thor Gudmundsen, Business Account Manager, explains why his company joined forces with Ricoh and arifiQ for this event: “Ricoh hosts excellent customer events, and we thought it would be a great occasion to showcase what is no doubt the world’s most automated, integrated workflow. Plus, only arifiQ lets us begin where the workflow truly starts: in the quote phase, where the wait can be the biggest enemy to turnaround time.”

A moment to describe the problems, waits, and higher costs that companies like these are eliminating:

Today, printers have trouble getting a job in the door. Obtaining quotes, requested adjustments/ requotes, and prepress operations can be laborious and subject to error. The pressure to get the job done has increased due to both the long wait for a final quote, and other jobs waiting in the queue. As a result, jobs are pushed through prepress and production using less than optimal imposition, equipment, and consumables, human mistakes in prepress may ruin the job – all ending up as higher costs than necessary at the printer. 

While generating the print quote, arifiQ calculates the optimal imposition/signature and production path required to attain the lowest cost. The finished quote holds all of this information, and can be used as the job order and job ticket whenever the customer is ready.

Requotes/adjustments take seconds, and new quotes/orders are immediately generated. Any job, including the most complex, custom design, is welcomed. No predefined templates are required.

“arifiQ’s ability to provide the best quotes as quickly as it does is made possible by the underlying arifiQ engine, ‘The Optimizer’, and its ability to determine the best production path and imposition, no matter how big an operation, and how many locations and devices it has access to,” says Stefan Karlsson, the arifiQ CTO who spent 2 days with Ricoh and Agfa customers in Oslo.

“It’s great to be able to show Ricoh visitors how efficient a workflow, starting from the quoting phase, can actually be,” Karlsson continues. “We share the vision of a fully automated workflow with Agfa and Ricoh, and are happy that we could set-up one of the world’s first looks at the technology here, in Oslo.”

 Ricoh demonstrated digital and large format print on all types of media, Agfa showcased Apogee and Storefront, and Neopost handled finishing.

Coming Soon, to a Workflow Near You

arifiQ is releasing its production optimizing technology, The Optimizer, to licensed workflow solution partners.

About arifiQ Development

arifiQ Development is a Swedish company that has, and will continue to, develop several applications, plug-ins, and modules based on its unique and powerful technology platform.

The idea that catalyzed arifiQ’s establishment was the founders’ recognition that the wait for quotes, and then approvals, was a major cause of frustration for customers and printers, both. They felt that solving the problem by making the quote process faster could have major, positive ramifications for the industry

Print Service Providers wish for Instant Quotes

February 8, 2017

Workflows may be automated, but getting quotes on jobs can take so long that new and even existing customers will take their work elsewhere to meet deadlines.

This is just one of the major findings in a new report on estimating systems, released by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) School of Media Sciences. In addition to reduced quotation cycles, mobility and compatibility with standards are also missing from many print service provider’s current estimating solutions.

Gannett Professor Chris Bondy and Media Arts and Technology student Wesley Odell identified and reviewed a variety of estimating systems, and interviewed print service provider participants representing various positions in their respective companies. Positions ranged from estimating and operations, to company leadership. 

At the top of Print Service Providers’ Wish Lists: Faster Quotes

The length of time spent waiting for a quote heads the list of frustrations. The researchers found that those sampled spent an average of 2 hours and 10 minutes on administrative tasks related to the quote process, including job planning, for every order.

This frustration is a big reason why arifiQ’s estimating application is now in use at several, major, North American print production companies. arifiQ utilizes a unique algorithm that can process septillions of combinations of print devices, substrates and other production variables to find a quote or quotes – on even complex jobs – that salespersons or their customers can review, or submit, within seconds.

“arifiQ is quite a bit further down the road than several other suppliers, in terms of turning around a quote quickly, whether the job be simple or complex, “says Bondy. “arifiQ is cutting that 2 hour plus wait into a minute or two, at most. They’ve raised the bar for the category.”

Another Ask: Easy-to-Use Interface and Mobility

Owned and run by executives who grew up in the print industry, arifiQ also offers one of the easiest to use interfaces. This makes it possible for wider groups of people to obtain quotes, keep jobs on schedule, and submit jobs for production.  Salespeople can utilize arifiQ’s mobile features while on-site at customer locations. Customers can directly use arifiQ as well, as it is available via the cloud for anyone — from anywhere – 24/7.

More Power for Those Who Want It

The arifiQ estimating engine brings even more value in terms of scalability and openness, especially as it is one of the only estimating solutions to offer an Open API for simple integration with other applications and workflows.

Today, versions of arifiQ with add-on modules have made it a full-scale MIS. A few customers see it as the platform for their entire Business Information System, in the not-too-distant future!

Read the RIT Press Release HERE

Read the Estimating Research Study Executive Summery HERE

For a complete copy of the research report, contact Prof. Chris Bondy at cxbppr@rit.edu, © 2017.

Introducing arifiQ Entry: The Industry’s Fastest Online Quoting Tool is Designed to Increase Print Sales

Introducing arifiQ Entry: The Industry’s Fastest Online Quoting Tool is Designed to Increase Print Sales

  • arifiQ Entry is the fastest way to quote and submit custom print jobs.
  • Printers and customers can view quotes, try numerous iterations, and submit online job orders that are instantly accepted for production.
  • Connects seamlessly with printers’ existing MIS, ERP or other systems.
December 6, 2016 – arifiQ Development introduces arifiQ Entry, designed to give anyone — such as CSRs, print buyers, and print sales teams — the ability to instantly and easily obtain quotes and place orders for custom print jobs, from anywhere. arifiQ Entry relieves the bottleneck – from several hours to many days — between the time a customer approves a job, and when he or she gets an estimate/quote back from a printer[1]. In contrast, arifiQ Entry and the full family of arifiQ solutions return accurate quotes in a minute or less.
Eliminating the long wait for print quotes has been at the top of “wish list” features requested of technology developers, by printers. As customer satisfaction (aka “the customer experience”) is now accepted as primary insurance for business success, arifiQ’s existing customers have found that eliminating the wait has generated dramatic, positive response by employees and customers.
Available immediately at a flat monthly rate, arifiQ Entry uses the company’s powerful arifiQ core engine to give users the unique quotation and optimized production benefits in all arifiQ products. arifiQ Entry also exports to, or integrates with, any MIS, ERP, prepress, or other order management system; and offers 12 of the 14 major benefits available in arifiQ’s high-end solution, arifiQ PRO.
“Customers usually have an approved version of a job when the salesperson calls or comes to see them; and they should not have to wait days to get the first quote,” says Eva Rosén, who is not only President and CMO of arifiQ Development; but is, along with her two co-founders, a print shop owner of many years.
“Print service providers will give their sales reps arifiQ Entry so they can place orders while with their customers, rather than bringing back those laborious RFQ’s,” Rosén says. With a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop, she says, the rep can access the PSP’s server to get custom quotes instantly, and 24/7, while they are on the phone or sitting with customers.
How arifiQ Entry works

The salesperson or other professional uses arifiQ Entry to access the printer’s estimating server from anywhere, at anytime, using any internet connection.  (Editorial note: No one’s – No One’s – estimating solution can do the following.) In only seconds, arifiQ’s proprietary algorithms generate up to one septillion 1024 (or more)combinations based on the printer’s resources and cost variables, to arrive at a quote.  Resources include printing presses, paper stock, and post-press machinery; while cost variables include hourly rates, discounts, and profit margins.

Campaign feature: Pieces are imposed together
Using this feature, reps can obtain estimates on many print jobs at one time, and get not only pricing, but also optimized imposition and media decisions[2]. Campaign functionality is one of the features available in both arifiQ PRO and arifiQ Entry.
Versions for PSPs, Designers, and In-Plants
In addition to arifiQ PRO and new arifiQ Entry, arifiQ Development offers a plugin for Adobe InDesign, as well as an in-plant solution, arifiQ deQuote, which provides quotes via the “print” function on any conventional computer.
Price, Availability and On-Demand Demonstrations
arifiQ Entry is immediately available at a flat monthly rate, with no setup fee. Any number of users are included, free of charge. There is also no long-term agreement: If users decide to stop using arifiQ Entry, there is a one month cancellation period.
Sample pricing is as follows. arifiQ has also provided a price calculator at arifiq.com/pricing.
Small Print-shop: arifiQ Entry per mo. $118
Medium printer with Hybrid Production: arifiQ Entry per mo. $616
Large offset printer: arifiQ Entry per mo. $1792
Interested parties can obtain a demonstration on-demand, at info@arifiq.com.
“Increasing revenue and customer experience is number one on every CEO’s to-do list, says Carina Karlsson, arifiQ Development CEO. “The huge potential for these opportunities can begin to be realized with arifiQ products.”
About arifiQ Development
arifiQ Development is a Swedish company that has, and will continue to, develop several applications, plug-ins, and modules based on its unique and powerful technology platform.
The idea that catalyzed the company’s establishment was the founders’ recognition that the wait for quotes, and then approvals, was a major cause of frustration for customers and printers, both. They felt that solving the problem by making the quote process faster could have major, positive outcomes for the industry.
arifiQ Development’s ROI calculator allows interested parties to review savings/profits that result from using arifiQ products. Additional profits (or savings) are realized because studies show that 30% of jobs go to the first quote.

[1]In a focus group arranged by arifiQ Development in 2015, the average wait time for the first quote on a custom job was found to be 3 days, within a range of 3 hours and 8 days.

[2]If the PSP needs to gang-run jobs from different clients, arifiQ PRO is required together with the Gang Run module.

Media contact:
Helene Smith
HSPR
+1 321 388 6511

Next Page Growth Supported by arifiQ

NextPage Growth Supported by arifiQ

NextPage provides customers with highly customized direct mail and variable data jobs, each containing unique specs with vast amounts of data. The company has experienced growth at exponential rates due to the proven success of highly targeted direct mail, its niche offering, and expertise.

“Each time we hit a growth spurt in our company, we have to add estimating resources, which is not a sustainable model in the long term,” says Gina Danner, NextPage CEO. “We were in search of an estimating system that could easily, and quickly, provide a print and mailing quote based on a production matrix that we could build to speak to the seemingly smallest details, in addition to one that could support the many engines we are running, as well as talk to various internal systems.”

“arifiQ will be integrated with both our CRM and ERP. Sales opportunities will be handled in the CRM, and together with arifiQ we have access to real estimates,” says Danner. “When the deal is closed in the CRM, arifiQ will push that data – with all the job details — onto our ERP system; creating the production order.”

Read the Press release HERE

Published at:

WhatTheyThink.com

PrintingNews.com

Printing Impression

Global Print Monitor

Converter News

 

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We have the technology that makes sales reps come home with orders instead of RFQ’s

CTO Stefan Karlsson did a great impression at the Printerverse panel “Transforming your workflow” at Graph Expo 2016. Watch it HERE!

Some of Stefans’ points:

“The workflow starts at the print customer”

“arifiQ enables a new way of work, because we have a technology that bridges sales system with production system”

“We have clients that transfered the organisation, by having sales and CSRs’ being out meeting customers instead of sitting at the office. And they come back with orders not RFQs'”

“arifiQ turns your RFQ order form for custom print jobs on the website into an order form”

 

Printerverse

Frank Romano Explores Graph Expo (and arifiQ)

arifiQ is happy to be one of the few vendors at Graph Expo that got the chance to be part of WhatTheyThinks’ video, where Frank Romano explores his favorite and not-so-favorite highlights on the trade show floor in Orlando, Florida.

CEO Carina Karlsson explains how to use arifiQ automated quoting for custom jobs: “The printers can provide arifiQ on the website or they can have the sales reps out at the customers closing deals, just right there”

Watch the video HERE