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Managing the Print Supply Chain to

Support Customers in a Recession


By Barb Pellow
n a difficult economy, anything that a print service
provider can do to help reduce costs resonates with the
client or prospect. Todays customers are seeking partners
that can help them link demand for printed materials as closely
as possible to the actual need to eliminate print inventory,
reduce costs, minimize business risk, and better meet end-user
expectations for performance and quality. This is a time when
the cost-conscious executive is looking for partner to outsource
print management so his company can increase its focus on core
competencies while simultaneously reducing the total cost of
ownership of print products and processes. There is a renewed willingness to make the print service provider an
integral part of the supply chain, but that partner needs to come prepared. The services and support that savvy
print buyers expect include:


Providing supply chain planning to ensure availability of printed materials while minimizing or even
eliminating inventory on hand
Providing electronic interfaces with customer systems to minimize manual processes and maximize
availability of information
Managing the procurement of kitted materials (including binders, printed content, and ad specialties) as
well as their production, assembly, and shipment
Fulfilling orders by picking, packing, warehousing, and shipping products
ViaTech: The Right Value Proposition at the Right Time
ViaTech Publishing Solutions serves the publishing community with technologically driven digital print and
Web-enabled solutions. It provides more than 4,000 publishing customers with printed materials on demand. A
key portion of the companys value proposition is that it can provide global services for clients. ViaTech has 10
manufacturing locations in the U.S. and the U.K. and as well as partners in Europe, Asia, and San Francisco.
January 12, 2009, All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.

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ViaTech: Managing the Print Supply Chain to Support Customers in a Recession

ViaTech Publishing Solutions was incorporated in

New York in 1961 and initially provided binders to its
clients. The business evolved and its focus shifted from
producing binders to producing the printed content
contained in the binders. Today, ViaTechs primary
mission is changing the way that publishers provide
content to customers or provide materials to classrooms.
Customers rely on ViaTech for its expertise in offset
printing, print on demand, CD/DVD duplication,
media packaging, custom tabs,
translation, e-commerce, and
localization. ViaTech focuses
on providing training materials
for software firms, training
companies, hospitality firms,
and consulting organizations.
Clients include SAP Education,
Achieve Global, DuPont, and
Hilton Hotels.

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Then we wont feel so bad when it becomes outdated

and we throw it out. Large batch printing encourages
waste; requires energy to warehouse, inventory, and
track; and often falls victim to obsolescence. The irony
is that for a company with ongoing print needs, ondemand printing is less expensive when you consider
the total cost of getting printed materials into the hands
of readers.
ViaTech also tells clients that
its distribute-and-print reduces
the overall cost of doing
business. Real-time distributeand-print systems are in place.
ViaTechs Global Network takes
clients outside of the focus on
regional plant production. It
prints simultaneously in multiple
locations for the publishers
served. ViaTech has branded this
Destination Printing. The firm
has company-owned print facilities
worldwide with 10 locations in the
U.S., all working as a single unit,
so the client creates and proofs his/
her documents locally, but materials are printed at or
near their final destination. The benefit to the customer
is that these materials arrive faster. ViaTech clients
are trimming their print budgets by as much as 30%
based on reduced shipping costs. ViaTech also has a
strong green message for its Destination Printing
services. The companys distributed print network
is environmentally-friendly because it produces a
fraction of the carbon emissions associated with
airfreight, tanker, or overland shipping. According to
Rauch, Destination Printing is economic as well as


has gone back

to the basics in
delivering and
value to



From a business perspective,

ViaTech has gone back to
the basics in delivering and
printing was introduced in 1990, the message was that
companies could print what they needed, when they
needed it, in the exact quantity required. Additionally,
through the use of communications technology,
materials could be distributed electronically and
printed anywhere in the world. The basics havent
changeddigital print is designed to eliminate the
obsolescence and overruns associated with traditional
offset printing.
Just-in-time manufacturing is at the core of what
ViaTech delivers to clients. It produces what clients
need, when they need it, and delivers the materials at
the point of need. ViaTech places extreme emphasis on
the simple concept that on demand is the most resourceefficient printing method ever conceived. According
to Vice President of Marketing Dixon Rauch, The
message to clients in a difficult economy is a simple
one. Traditional thinking states, lets print a pallet
load of materials just to get the price per unit down.

Chief Operating Officer Ron Simmons stated, Global

support is more than just distributing and printing.
We provide translations into 7 different languages for
our clients. We also do format localization on the fly.
People forget that only the U.S. and Canada use 8
x 11. We format jobs based on the destination for our

January 12, 2009, All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.

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ViaTech: Managing the Print Supply Chain to Support Customers in a Recession

Underlying this distributed business model is ease

of use with customer facing ViaTech-enabled,
Web-based tools. These Web-based interfaces speed
production and eliminate transactions for many
publishers. According to Rauch, Clients like Sony
have seen production times reduced from four days
to two hours for completely customized books. Our
Web-based ordering systems are available 24/7 to
ViaTechs online ordering tools are segmented into
two offerings:
Find and Print is a catalog of corporate documents
and supplies for direct ordering by users. The
user simply selects from the available items in
the catalog and orders products for delivery at a
specified shipping address.
Create and Print is a Web-based documentbuilding program where users upload PDF files
and create new customized documents. These can
be ordered and shipped from the clients computer.
Documents can also be reordered from the users
personal library of saved documents.

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Simmons went on to say, The customers we deal with

also have specialty items that they want shipped with
printed materials. Each of our facilities has about 20%
of its space dedicated to ad specialties. Between our JIT
print production and fulfillment capability, the promise
we make to our customers is that within 12 months,
we can convert them to an inventory-free environment.
In a challenging economy, thats a message that
resonates. It means less people, no carrying cost, and
no obsolescence.
Its Back to the Basics for Customers and Print
Service Providers in Difficult Times!
ViaTech is proving to customers that the cost saving for
outsourcing training documentation and promotional
items is undeniable, at a time when the true objective
is getting the company focused on its core business
operations. For many large enterprises, printing
operations are becoming a distraction. Its not that
internal print operations dont add value, but the costs
(in terms of time and energy and associated human and
physical capital) are taking time away from exploring
revenue-producing business opportunities.



Customer-facing Web-based interfaces are linked

into Just-In-Time (JIT) production facilities. While
JIT methods have been around for decades, COO
Ron Simmons notes that ViaTech has embraced,
refined, and implemented Kanban techniques. Our
online customer-facing Web tools are part of a pull
system that determines the supply or production
according to the actual demand of the customers. The
system creates a bill of materials for the shop floor.
It describes specific requirements for the document.
When production is complete, printed materials are
automatically forwarded to logistics. An address label
with an appropriate bar code is generated; the shipping
company is notified and the customers are told via
e-mail when to expect delivery. Human intervention
can be interjected as appropriate. Weve taken JIT well
beyond the production process and into all phases of
our operation, including management and customer

ViaTech is capitalizing on the need for organizations to

be more flexible and agile by responding with printing
what customers need, when they need it, in the exact
quantity requiredanywhere in the world. In a difficult
time, the organization is focusing on getting back to
the basics and the fundamental value proposition
associated with JIT digital printing.

January 12, 2009, All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.

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