Hidden gains of redundancy in printing business

It was a high-power delegation meeting to discuss keen problems and proffer technically workable solutions. After hours of tactical brainstorming, it was time to head for lunch to refresh.

How are you? The gentleman who just stepped beside me asked, fine thank you sir, I really do like your thought construct sir, you seem to know your onions I replied. Then he goes “You are smart and witty, you inspired me to shift on to my overdrive mode, to be honest I like the speed in which you articulate and reconstruct each scenario, by the way are you really Nigerian?”

I am, why did you ask?

I have had scores of meetings with Nigerians, and they all carry multiple expensive phones, they align them side by side on the table and each would go off a couple of times during the meeting. You have only one! Smiles…

When the mobile phone network arrived in Nigeria it was with loads of teething issues, so my people were forced to get many phones, if this network fails the other won’t. Many will however argue that redundancy is expensive as like in the case of funding two networks when one very efficient one could have just been fine, but if we focus on the bright side of redundancy as a concept that involves having backup or extra elements in a system so that if one part fails, another can step in and keep things running smoothly. It’s like having a spare Tyre in your car – if one goes flat, you can use the spare to continue driving without being stuck. Or imagine having a house with two locks on the front door. If one lock malfunctions, you can still use the other lock to secure your home. Having two locks provides redundancy in case one fails. Or in a room with multiple power outlets, you can plug your electronic devices into different outlets. If one outlet stops working, you can use another one to keep your devices powered up. Saving important documents or photos on both your computer’s hard drive and an external hard drive is a form of redundancy. If one storage device fails, you still have a copy on the other. Or even something as basic as providing multiple emergency numbers just to be sure that if one person is not reachable during that critical period another would be.
If the concept of redundancy has help us manage the situations of life better even if it means we will spend a bit more, how then do we condemn Redundancy in a printing outfit? A concept that should offer several benefits, including increased reliability, reduced downtime, and improved production efficiency. It ensures that if one component or machine fails, another can take over, minimizing interruptions. Redundancy also enhances the ability to meet tight deadlines and maintain consistent output quality. Additionally, it provides flexibility for maintenance and upgrades without disrupting ongoing operations. However, it’s essential to balance redundancy with cost considerations to ensure cost-effectiveness in the very long run.

While redundancy is discouraged in many businesses, it only appears to be king in the printing business. Below are some scenarios where redundancy can make sense in your print shop.

  1. Critical Equipment: Print shops rely on various printing presses, finishing equipment, and other machinery to produce print materials. If a key piece of equipment fails, it can disrupt production and result in delays and loss of revenue. Having redundant equipment in place, such as a backup printing press or finishing equipment, can help minimize downtime and ensure continuous operations.
  2. Power Supply: Outages can occur unexpectedly and disrupt print operations. Having redundant power supply systems, such as backup generators or uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units, can provide uninterrupted power to critical equipment during outages, allowing the print shop to continue operating without interruptions.
  3. Data Backup and Storage: Print shops often deal with large volumes of digital files, including design files, customer data, and ordering information. Losing such data due to hardware failure, software glitches, or other reasons can result in significant disruptions and loss of business. Implementing redundant data backup and storage systems, such as off-site backups or cloud-based storage, can help protect against data loss and ensure business continuity.
  4. Skilled Personnel: This business require skilled operators and technicians to operate, maintain equipment and processes. If a key employee is unavailable due to illness, vacation, or other reasons, it can affect production. Having redundant personnel who are trained and capable of overlap or outrightly step in can help mitigate the impact of employee absences and ensure smooth operations.
  5. Supply Chain: Print shops rely on a steady supply of materials, such as paper, ink, and other consumables, to produce print materials. Disruptions in the supply chain, such as delays in material deliveries or shortages, can impact production. Having redundant suppliers or alternative sources of materials can help mitigate the risks associated with supply chain disruptions and ensure continuous production.

In summary, redundancy in a print shop can make sense in scenarios where it helps minimize downtime, ensure continuous operations, protect data, maintain customer service, and mitigate risks associated with equipment failures, employee absences, and supply chain disruptions. It is important to carefully evaluate the cost and benefits of redundancy in each specific print shop setting to determine the most effective approach.

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  1. This is great stuff.
    Having spent over two decades in the print industry in Nigeria, I know redundancy can be bad.
    It also promotes high blood pressure especially when there’s a breakdown and deadline is very close by.
    You mentioned having backup equipment…
    Remember print equipment ain’t cheap.
    It’s huge investment.
    What we do then, to atleast meet deadline, is to quickly outsource with nearby print company.
    In some other cases, we can contract casual staffs to help.

    1. Yeah, I know that printing is capital intensive but at some level, outsourcing you major jobs can be counter productive if the owner of the job finds out and feels if you can outsource then they cant get it cheaper. I agree that redundancy is not for everyone but check out the top 10 printers they all implement the concept, so me think there must be something about it that gets you to the top. regards sir

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