The five steps to buying the right ink logistics package

Selecting the ink dispensing and software solution that brings best long-term value is a team effort. It demands careful thinking about your processes and selection criteria – before purchase. Onno Deen, Area Sales Manager at GSE, reveals the buyer’s journey….

In today’s service-driven value chain, the question for packaging and label converters is not ‘if’ you automate your ink logistics but ‘how’. As our introduction to ink logistics explains, automation generates value at all stages of the print workflow, way beyond preparing spot colours.

Choosing the right ink dispensing, proofing and software solutions for your business must be approached methodically: you are investing in a modernized process for drastic waste reduction, getting quality ‘right first time’ and quick-response manufacturing.

The procurement process requires

  • multi-disciplinary teamwork,
  • to look for potential process improvements,
  • determine the ideal workflow and
  • evaluate the many market options.

Researching the market thoroughly is time well spent. Dispensing systems are bespoke, built from modules – configured to printing application, output levels, ink sets and the needs of the supply chain. There are also many performance criteria to consider.

Step-by-step plan

We have put together a step-by-step plan for procuring the ink logistics package that brings you the best long-term value as efficiently as possible. Click on the links to read about each step in more detail:

Step 1: set up buying teams

The expertise of relevant colleagues is vital to make the right investment. This link explains who you should involve, how and when.

Step 2: look at your current state

Learn how to analyze your current ink-related processes, identify areas for improvement and quantify metrics.

Step 3: think of your future processes

  • Explore solutions and design the ideal state of your future ink-related processes, using Lean principles.
  • Determine the software requirements.
  • Determine the hardware requirements: the type of work you do, among other factors, will determine what you need from an ink dispensing and proofing system.
  • Quantify your objectives.

Step 4: supplier evaluation and selection

  • Determine selection criteria
    Decide what you should be looking for in a potential supplier. There are three types of criteria to judge a vendor’s offering by: organizational, technical and commercial.
  • Determine selection weightings
    Work out what’s most important when choosing a supplier by using this simple weighting method.
  • Evaluate the suppliers
    Compare the offerings with a scoring system and select the preferred supplier.

Step 5: contracting

You’ve chosen your preferred supplier. Congratulations! You are now ready to proceed to the contracting stage.

After determining the software, hardware and new layout, we recommend including an implementation plan in the project scope, consisting of activity descriptions with deadlines and responsibilities (e.g. equipment supplier, ink supplier and you). Examples of activities are ink room preparation, initial ink supply, internal transport and installation of the equipment and training.

After agreeing on the project scope, the supplier can prepare the sales contract including all specifications and commercial conditions.

Continuous improvement

We hope this blog gives you a framework for selecting the best ink management solution for meeting your long-term goals.

We advise you to evaluate your investment a while after implementation – ideally a year. The objectives that you have quantified in the third step of the buying journey can be used for this evaluation. Moreover, improving these metrics can be a good starting point for continuous improvement!

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