One of the best practices of high-performing print shops is to leverage the power of building batches to keep presses running with as few interruptions as possible. While many printers are familiar with the idea of joining small jobs together to create longer print runs, batching brings intelligence, precision, and automation to the process. It is different from concatenation, which printers may use to stack files into a single print run. Batching rules can be built and managed based on job attributes to optimize production to meet service level agreements (SLAs), production demands, or unique processing based on the customer’s requirements.

Batches are groups of jobs that share common elements that allow them to be processed and printed together. Jobs might share a common color profile, paper, or finishing path but arrive from a variety of applications and network locations on different schedules. Building batch queues to hold, then release files when the assigned criteria are met streamlines production and increases efficiency.

Commercial printers have used these techniques for decades. They often take jobs from multiple clients and use nesting or ganging applications to increase print capacity. Labels, hang tags, and even business cards can share a common sheet for printing and then be separated based on their finishing requirements. Applying similar techniques to business, transaction, direct mail, and other types of printing helps to eliminate the hands-on efforts to manage the growing number of short run jobs — a constant challenge for many printers.

To get started:

  1. Look at job data to identify the common job types you manage.
  2. Look at physical job elements, like the paper and finishing, but then look at more granular elements.
  3. Consider the color profiles and ink levels.

Batches should have similar ink profiles, so keep graphically rich brochures separate from files with fewer graphic elements like invoices. Keep dark color profile work separate from lighter profiles.

A best practice is to use the variations in the print applications to develop job queues to automate capturing inbound jobs and routing them. While many companies use hot folders to manage jobs, that basic form of automation does not have the software intelligence for batching. If there are both cut-sheet and continuous devices, moving jobs between them takes careful planning. RICOH TotalFlow BatchBuilder™ is a purpose-built solution that supports both cut-sheet and continuous print devices that fulfill long and short-run requirements. It can help streamline the management of diverse print work and eliminate the need to rekey job information.

No matter how you get started, batching belongs in your print shop. Batching helps to reduce paper waste that occurs as jobs start up and increase uptime for print devices by leveraging standard setups. Whether you acquire a batching solution or do it yourself, this is a best practice for your print shop.

Be sure to check out our 6-part ecosystem series for in-plant and print service providers for more information on each stage of your print production and contact us if you have any questions.