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A Good Business Circulatory System

In much the same way as your circulatory system is essential for your health, the software and workflow network that connects everything is essential for the success of a print business. Automation is not just a way to make up for labor shortages but also to increase connections between the essential ‘organs’ in your workflow, thereby improving productivity and reducing costs. In this article, I will explore how automation in the display graphics industry can help you stay competitive in the diversifying and ever-changing markets.

Labor challenges

Many articles have noted that all printing and equipment servicing facilities have seen long-term skilled labor retiring, and the display graphics industry has not been immune to this trend.

In the recently published “2022-2023 State of the Industry Report,” Paparozzi, chief economist at PRINTING United Alliance, notes that of the respondents, “83% are concerned about labor shortages,” He continues, “Throughout our survey, the participants mentioned that ‘we do need to automate because we’re not able to attract young employees; our folks are getting older. They’re retiring.’ And 52.3% said they are investing in capital equipment specifically for automation purposes.”

Productivity, or output per hour, will have to be increased. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,, in the third quarter of last year, wages increased 4.0% compared to the same period the previous year, but productivity decreased by 1.3%.

In wide-format printing facilities, automation is becoming increasingly necessary to improve productivity. Increased efficiency will help keep up with skilled labor shortages, tight turnarounds, diversified applications, and thin margins.

Incrementally improving the smooth flow of information

Automation is needed company-wide, not just in the uncarpeted areas of your facility. Automation is essential from job submission through billing. These efficiencies have become essential to address increasing competition.

Constantly increasing productivity by squeezing incremental steps out of your entire process and investing in increased production speeds is required to be more competitive or your margins will suffer.

Paparozzi’s analysis reveals that although “The gamut of opportunity is expanding, the margin for error is shrinking.” By incrementally and continuously maximizing efficiency, you will reduce inefficiencies and bottlenecks created by labor shortages or high labor turnover.

Connecting workflow processes through automation

Integration is beneficial in pricing and costing. Automatically sharing important data minimizes risk and errors and is a critical part of the workflow process. As display graphics providers decide to take on more work to become more profitable, inputting the numbers—pricing jobs, estimating orders, determining profit margins—once versus multiple times is pivotal in the journey to profitability.

Matt Crawford, President and CEO of Onyx Graphics, notes that many owners are now investing more in automation tools than in labor, and Jonathan Rogers, Onyx Graphics' International Marketing Manager, emphasizes the importance of creating a workflow not just for print production, but for the business as a whole.

Having the right software infrastructure in place is essential to the success of a display graphics print business, just like a good circulatory system is essential to health.

A Good Circulatory System

Think of the devices in your facility as the major organs of the business’s “body,” the software, and the network that connects everything is the circulatory system. Much like the circulatory system is essential for health, the continuous connectivity between processes and devices is essential for the success of a print business. Matt Crawford and Jonathan Rogers note the importance of investing in software and creating a workflow for both print production and the carpeted areas of your business.

Rogers emphasizes the importance of tracking who moved which file, when it was printed, and how much ink and media were used to gain a better understanding of costs and capacity.

With the right automation infrastructure in place, a business can keep up with the diverse business opportunities, and challenging economic and labor pressures, while staying competitive.


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I'm Steven

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