Integrating ink management software with MIS for optimum performance!

A simple interface enables seamless data exchange between your ink management software and ERP system. It’s the key to true process automation – bringing improved responsiveness, decision-making, and use of employee time…

Software is automating virtually every step in the printing workflow – bringing with it the promise of standardized quality, lower overheads, seamless production flow and faster processes.

But to make those promises come true, it’s vital these software packages – like ink management software – communicate with other management information systems converters use to run their businesses. In particular, they must be capable of exchanging data with the corporate ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, where orders are planned and released for production.

What a tangled web we weave, when data is hard to retrieve….

Ink logistics perfectly illustrates the printer’s need for integration. Suppose you get a sales order for 10,000 packages – a five-colour design, via your ERP system. The information you need to carry that order out ‘first-time right’ without waste is in different places.

To schedule the job, there are ink-related challenges to resolve. The first is to accurately and efficiently formulate the colours from PANTONE® or L*a*b* values, without consuming excessive time. The next challenge is to calculate the quantity of ink needed to print the job – a complicated task for each colour that takes into account various parameters, including anilox cell count. You will also need to know that you have sufficient stocks. Additionally, once you define the colour for a job, where do you manage any corrections?

Without software data sharing, the operator is easily bogged down with administration – printing out a job ticket for the ink kitchen, re-entering job and recipe data, perhaps at a different terminal. It increases the chances of mistakes, slows processes, and prevents staff from focusing on high-value tasks.

Interface: exchanging data, adapted to your ink management needs

All these problems can be resolved with an interface that enables seamless integration of your ink management software with the management information systems and ERP software. Compatible with the leading MIS / ERP software platforms, interfaces are quick and easy to install.

The interface must have both an import and an export function. The type of information that will be imported or exported depends on what level of ink logistics support your ERP software platform offers. Some ERPs just process the sales order and relay it to the ink management software, while more sophisticated platforms may manage the recipe, or in addition, calculate ink quantities required for the order.

At GSE, for example, we have developed a special interface for GSE Ink manager software, that can be adapted to the converter’s data-exchange requirements. It can be customized to import three types of order information from the ERP:

  1. “Order-Article”: The sales order containing the graphic design details and quantity requirements is relayed to the ink management software. The ink management software calculates how much ink is needed to print the job. This includes quantities to be dispensed for spot colours, according to their recipes.
  2. “Order-Formulas”: the ink management software receives an order, and the ERP system provides information on how much ink is needed per formula. The formula is maintained in the ink management system while the ERP maintains the design information.
  3. “Order-Formula-Components”: The ink management software receives the order, its formula components, the required weight and the proportion of each ingredient needed in each recipe. In this case, the ERP software maintains the design information and the design’s formulas. This import type is mainly applied at ink manufacturers, at which it’s common to manage formulas in ERP.

Logging changes brings real-time information

Additionally, the interface has a special module for exporting to the ERP the logistical changes that are logged in the ink management software’s program. Logistical changes can be the delivery of a new base ink stock, the dispensing of a component or booking in press returns, for example. Changes are exported as soon as each event happens, so the user can acquire real-time stock information instantly, whenever necessary.

These dispensing events are recorded in a dedicated database, accessed by the ERP system without the risk of affecting the main ink management software.

A big step for Lean and Smart manufacturing

Software integration is an important step towards the Lean, Smart manufacturing workflow improving agility and ‘flow’ in your processes. The benefits are numerous:

  • Real-time information is instantly accessible and retrievable, wherever and whenever it is needed – no human input or paperwork needed. It’s possible to see the ‘full picture’ of available stock levels or ink consumption costs, aiding better decision-making at management level.
  • Processes, such as job scheduling and colour matching, can happen faster too – as well as easy job scheduling by operators.
  • Human input is greatly reduced. There is no duplication of data, and less risk of errors. Staff are free to focus on creative and problem-solving tasks instead of painstakingly processing or retrieving data – in short, you get better value from your people.

Want to know more?
To find out how a customized ink management software can be integrated with your ERP, contact our sales team for a consultation on email info@gsedispensing.com or telephone +31 575 568 080.

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