Turning challenges

into opportunities in a post-COVID world with EFI Fiery


As print businesses recalibrate following the disruption of the pandemic, EFI’s European Sales Director Terry Garvey shares an update on how EFI has continued to innovate over the last two years, and how their latest technology and solutions can play a key role in delivering post-COVID success.

What a journey it’s been over the past couple of years. These have certainly been difficult times to navigate, and from a business perspective, having far fewer opportunities to meet with customers, colleagues, and friends was quite an adjustment, which is why it’s such a welcome sight to see events back on the calendar and face-to-face meetings returning. However, we’re now experiencing something of a mixed blessing; while it’s great to resume many pre-COVID activities, we are facing some notable challenges as a result of the global pandemic.

Let’s take a ‘glass half full’ approach for a moment. Without being able to spend as much time out on the road as they normally would, EFI Fiery engineers have had plenty of time to innovate, creating a wealth of timely new features that are perfectly attuned to the demands of print businesses in today’s climate. From market research from PRINTINGUnited/NAPCO Research, we have identified four pressing issues businesses are currently facing, and will take a look at the ways in which Fiery solutions can help mitigate and overcome these challenges.

Supply chain challenges

We have all been subject to the issues with global supply chains, likely on a personal and professional level. For print professionals, dealing with paper shortages, consumables arriving at the last moment,less and less time to process jobs, you have no room for error and neither do your customers – it’s becoming an all too familiar story. Businesses need to maximise press utilisation as much as possible, and minimise waste, reruns, and downtime.
For starters, we have a simple yet supremely effective solution: Fiery is now even faster. The EFI Fiery FS500 Pro platform processes files up to 50 percent faster, which means with just a few clicks the operator is on to the next job, maximising their productivity and allowing businesses to run many more jobs a day and deliver quicker turnaround times.

The latest version of Fiery Command WorkStation allows users to centralise job management with control over all their local or remote Fiery servers, delivering turbo-charged productivity and unrivalled flexibility. Automation is improved, with advanced search and tags, and user experience is even more intuitive, even with an inexperienced operator – which brings us to the next pressing issue.

Labour shortages

You may have heard of what’s being described as the ‘great resignation’, as workers across industries quit their jobs in droves as a consequence of COVID. However, some are now labelling this shift in the labour market as more of a ‘great reshuffle’, with many leaving their current roles in search of something different. It’s great news for print businesses if that ‘something different’ can be found on your shop floor, but it does mean that many are doing their jobs for the first time which can result in jobs taking longer and mistakes being made, which you just can’t afford.

EFI Learning offers a library of more than 400 learning materials and award-winning education programmes, so new staff have a great opportunity to get up to speed even before they get their hands on the equipment. And even if your new employees don’t feel like experts yet, with Fiery JobExpert, they can be. JobExpert analyses incoming PDF files and intelligently selects the optimal settings to guarantee the highest quality, all while optimising processing time. Whether there’s a transparency, spot colour, bleed, small text, Fiery JobExpert makes sure the job comes out right first time. Where a prepress expert may previously have been crucial, all that expertise is now in theFiery server.Fiery JobFlow offers automated job preparation and makes managing pre-press workflows even easier, taking care of job processing tasks image enhancement, imposition, and preflight, producing ready-to-print files.

Changing consumer behaviour

There is no denying that the pandemic has irreversibly impacted consumer behaviour. Everybody is ordering online, and expectations for immediate turnarounds are higher than ever. B2B e-commerce is expected to continue to grow, and in competitive markets, businesses that aren’t able to meet increasingly rapid demands are at risk of being left behind. This means web-to-print integration is essential.

Fiery’s integrated solutions can help take your productivity to the next level, weaving seamlessly with web-to-print, MIS, ERP software and more. Finishing integration reduces prepress and manual setup time by integrating Fiery Driven print engines with offline finishing equipment, so production from web-to-print through to finisher integration can be automated with Fiery.

The way we work is changing in too many ways to cover in this article, but a solution like EFI IQ is ideally suited to remote print shop management that can also capture quality data to improve and speed up decision-making and help you get the most out of your systems. With your web-to-print integration allowing jobs to come in via e-commerce, and enhanced automation throughout your production touchpoints, the additional and flexibility of a cloud-based solution like IQ is a logical addition that can help you better measure and manage your workflow.

Diversification and differentiation

Forward-thinking print businesses are always looking ahead. How can we expand and reach new customers? What additional applications and services should we be looking into to add value to our customer base and win new business? How do we guarantee the best quality to make sure we’re head and shoulders above the competition?

An innovation like Fiery FreeForm Create makes personalisation and differentiation fast, free, and easy, putting the power to add variable elements such as text, images and barcodes at your fingertips. Producing print-ready, personalised files with variable data doesn’t need to be overly complicated. With Fiery FreeForm Create VDP creation application, no Fiery server or additional investment is required – users can simply download the application to their computer and they are ready to go.

As print businesses explore diversification and new revenue streams, and their customers work to tighter budgets and deadlines, the idea of becoming a ‘one-stop shop’ for their needs is a compelling one, but opportunities that require additional investments need justifiable ROI, particularly in today’s market. Display graphics technologies for wide- and superwide-format printing have the attractive benefit of also being Fiery driven, and can connect to Fiery Command WorkStation, keeping the same workflow and job management interface that is easy to use, easy to train and easy to source experienced talent in a highly competitive labour market.

Of course, when it comes to differentiation, I don’t need to tell you that colour matters. For dependable, consistent colour accuracy, Fiery’s expert colour management technology is integrated in every Fiery server and works seamlessly with advanced controls in Fiery Command WorkStation.

We have just scratched the surface of how Fiery solutions can help your business turn the challenges we are currently facing into new opportunities. To learn more, go to www.efi.com/fiery.

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