Publishers order large print runs from Stora Enso’s clients. To serve the publishers as best they can, the clients create differentiated printing solutions for them, of which there are as many as there are separate orders. The remote product advisory requires financial, environmental, and logistical expertise from all parties to achieve the best results.
Isaac Smith, one of three Technical Customer Service Manager for Stora Enso in the UK, works with the company’s publisher, printer, and paper merchant clients. On a daily basis, he needs to understand what the clients want to achieve and whether the product being considered is best suited to the application and the process being selected.
“Traditionally, the paper industry has preferred face-to-face and phone communication,” Isaac reflects on the present situation. “Remote technologies have not been utilized too much.”
The printing industry has come a long way in 700 years. The principle is essentially the same since the beginning, but the tech behind both large scale and highly specific printing has taken great strides in the digital era.
As productivity goes up, so do the demands for tighter paper manufacturing tolerances and custom solutions, meaning in turn that error margins can be quite significant. Getting the advisory process right saves significant time and money for both publisher and printer.
One of Isaac’s customer’s machines can costs Stora Enso hundreds of pounds (GBP) an hour if left standing due to paper fault or suitability issue. To get it up and running with the correct settings, the service team can sometimes be on-site within 2-3 hours. However, this is dependent on geography and existing demand on the limited technical manpower available. Adding this up on a weekly, unpredictable basis, there is a massive cost to not being able to offer stable remote product and mechanical processes technical advice to clients. Not to mention the environmental impact of misprints and wasted resources.
“Machinery has become faster, so the margin for error is a lot tighter than it used to be,” Isaac explains. “Due to the speed and scale of the manufacturing process, it’s impossible to predict some faults until they manifest on a machine.”
The scope of potential problems means there are no single, ready-made, or easy solutions. That doesn’t mean that Stora Enso faces an impossible task; quite the contrary, Isaac and his colleagues are enthusiastic about the challenges and finding the right solutions.
“Remote viewing, cameras, or augmented reality technology for off-site operators are some hands-on examples,” Isaac says. “A centralized problem-solving database would benefit us greatly. Also, a way to utilize our customers’ data to increase productivity would go a long way.”
“In the future, product advisory services should automatically utilize customer-specific data, history and experiences for tailoring the best possible match for any and all printing needs,” he continues. “Customers should also expect that geographical limitations are not in themselves limitations to the on-press service and advice we can offer when printers have difficulties in production that require immediate intervention.”
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