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Tue, Jun

Mission: CONTROL

By the end of this year a company called Zaikio hopes connect the whole printing industry through a new holistic platform. Here’s the vision…

You might know Germany-based Zaikio for the Keyline cloud-based MIS solution. By the end of 2021 it’s hoping the whole print industry will know its name, because its goal is to have Mission Control up and running by then, “enabling standardised data exchange between all participating apps and thus holistic networking in the industry” according to MD Matthias Prinz.

With efficiency across the entire value chain the order of the day, standardisation, automation and digitisation have become a priority for large-format printers as we know, so can this holistic approach simplify what has often been a daunting task?

Zaikio reiterates that when it comes to topics like workflow and automation, the large-format sector has lagged behind areas like offset. It puts forward Keyline user Longo Germany [which also operates wallpaper platform www.tapeterie.com] to flag up one of the key reasons - as its MD Helfried Prunster says: “Many MIS are so strongly oriented towards offset printing.” So, what’s different with Zaiko’s proposition?

Keyline developer Zaikio puts three key aspects at the heart of its philosophy - ease of use, standardisation and complete openness. The application does not pretend to be able to do everything - it acts as a data hub and cooperates with specialised solutions, for example for accounting, PDF workflow in prepress, the familiar production workflows and more.

These three key features are also the basis for the next step. The free-of-charge and vendor-open Zaikio platform connects printers, their customers, brand owners, suppliers as well as software and equipment manufacturers together on an open platform. It enables all of them to communicate and exchange data on a level playing field.

Zaikio acts as a hub for the apps of its technology partners (as well as apps developed by Zaikio itself such as Zaikio Procurement - more about this later). It enables them to connect their solutions to an open platform and make them available to printers, creating a unified management and production environment for print businesses.

With rissc, Calibrate, Ultimate Technographics, Packitoo, Impressed and CloudLab, a number of well-known industry players are already on board.

At the end of the year, Zaikio’s Mission Control is expected. Its task will be to store data from apps in a standardised format. This data can then be shared with other apps, without any further integrations.

All the apps will be provided in the Zaikio App Store, introduced in April this year. Some apps are free, some will have a price tag. The cost structure for the use and the price of the apps is set by the partners. Any implementation demand of the solutions which might occur at the customer end is also up to the partners.

The platform is intended to allow print businesses - of any kind and size - to digitise their business without the need for in-depth IT knowledge. The effort required to integrate software and machines, which is often justifiably shied away from in traditional environments, is eliminated.

For Nico Rudolf Kessel, vice managing director of the printing house Bastian in Fohren, Germany, and early adopter of Zaikio, a platform for standardisation and integration in the printing industry has been long overdue. “There are many connections that one would have wanted to implement long ago, but the interface problems were a hurdle. With Zaikio, you now have the courage to try something out at a manageable cost,” he enthuses.

What’s more, because the solution uses the SaaS model, no huge outlay is necessary - and if the company expands or new business models are implemented, things can be adapted.

As mentioned earlier, Zaikio itself also develops apps for the platform. One example is Zaikio Procurement, a ready-to-use consumables procurement application already available in the Zaikio App Store.

Zaikio Procurement currently supports seven MIS systems, including Prinect Business Manager, PrintVis, EPMS, as well as Keyline. These can be integrated with Zaikio in just a few clicks (instructions are available on the Zaikio website).

A small number of consumables suppliers are initially involved with the system - more are expected to get on board over the coming months. The app accesses the suppliers’ systems live and directly - product details, availability and prices are thus always up-to-date.

Users can manage the entire ordering process through Zaikio Procurement. They can use the search function to quickly find the materials they need. Prices take account of individual agreements with suppliers.

Suppliers can send status updates on the production and delivery process and thus inform their customers online about the status of the order. They can also store the invoices in Zaikio. As a result, printers have complete transparency of their orders at all times.

The platform will also communicate with the machines used - it transfers the information on the product and receives details from the machines on run times, waste, good products and more - helping PSPs achieve greater efficiency and transparency in their processes.

Prunster of Longo comments: “The approach of the Zaikio platform is clever and comes at exactly the right time. The digitisation and automation of all processes between all market participants in the printing industry will significantly streamline the workflow and make it more efficient.”

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