Many SME wide-format printers could be missing out on the benefits of management information systems, according to software developer Optimus, which is targeting the sector with its Dash MIS.
Optimus has claimed that because most print MIS are firmly rooted in litho production, they are ill-suited and often incapable of being used for wide-format estimating.
According to Steve Richardson, sales director at Optimus, the vast array of different substrates and the different processes and production techniques used by wide-format printers require a different approach to traditional print estimating.
As a result, most wide-format printers are unaware of the benefits an MIS could bring to their business and are still using simple methods of estimating, job tracking and billing.
"At Fespa, people who live in a world of bits of A4 paper and self-made programmes who have no experience of MIS will come to our stand and they're amazed at the things we're capable of," he said.
Optimus is now targeting the sector with its Dash MIS, which was launched in May 2010. Although it is not a specialist wide-format MIS, it can be easily tailored to wide-format production, unlike legacy print MIS which are tied to the litho process.
This is because Dash features a new front end that uses a formula-based approach to estimating that means it can be tailored to anything from litho, to digital print, to consultation and design services.
Richardson said: "It can deal, without compromise, with that wide-format digital environment, but it can cater for a variety of other processes as well that might sit outside of that – that's why it's such a powerful tool.
"For us now it’s not a question of functionality – if there's something we don't have we can build it very easily, it's all about mapping processes."
One recent wide-format convert to MIS is KGK Print, a family-owned printer running an array of high end wide-format equipment that had become exasperated with the lack of a wide-format estimating tool.
"There wasn't a single MIS that was targeted towards the wide-format digital marketplace, everything was geared to litho," said KGK partner Graham Pitts. "Even the terminology was litho orientated."
The firm recently completed 10 months of development work with Optimus to tailor Optimus Dash to the company's processes. According to Richardson, the experience gained from working with KGK will stand Optimus in good stead when implementing further wide-format installs – leading to much quicker integration.
He added: "It's been an exciting journey for us and we're determined to capitalise over the next couple of years because we're positive we've got a first class solution – it does separate us from the pack really in [the wide-format] environment – this is where we see the growth coming."
See the Me & My… feature in tomorrow's edition of PrintWeek for more on Optimus Dash and KGK Print.