Andrew Hall, Marketing Manager, OKI Systems UK explains how smart multifunction printers can help AEC firms accelerate digitisation across their operation
Following the deadline for government projects of a certain size to be designed to Building Information Modelling (BIM) Level 2, there’s no going back on the digitisation of design. Now the recently launched UK BIM Alliance aims to make BIM ‘business as usual’ for smaller and non-government projects, it appears that for the design, engineering and structural side of the industry, the future is digital.
However, for many businesses in the architectural, engineering and construction space, day-to-day operations outside the design office continue to be a combination of paper-based and digital documents, despite the time and productivity savings a more digitally-based workflow can bring. At some stages, plans, maps, bills of materials, invoices, time sheets and other documentation will still need to be printed. Also most companies have a public-facing side and a need for reports, banners, signs, brochures and other marketing collateral.
But perhaps surprisingly to some, one of the keys to becoming digital throughout the entire operation is a printer – or rather a multifunction printer which combines printing with scanning, copying and faxing. In facilitating the transition away from paper-based processes, smart multifunction printers (MFPs) have an important role in helping AEC firms towards more collaborative, digitised office processes that complement the BIM workflow.
In fact, there are five areas of challenge where smart MFPs can help:
Capture and distribution: Smart MFPs can help businesses convert to paperless workflows with instant electronic access and routing by metadata.
Document and content management: One of the pivotal benefits of business process automation is in providing the ability to archive documents in one place. By providing access to scanning functionality, users can digitise information for searchable access and scan direct to a specific destination, eliminating the need for a paper trail. So smart MFPs include the ability to scan direct-to-email or to a specified folder that may be on a network or which is cloud-based for further use or archiving. Various document formats can also be scanned for output in PDF or PDF/A format.
Security and output: Secure PIN printing, encrypted secure print and user authentication all help to protect documents. In OKI’s new smart MFPs are complemented by Wireless Direct of the concurrent connection of wired and wireless networking in a safe way, optional card release for keeping confidential documents secure and Private Print which enables users to select a document from a print queue and release with a PIN and Internet Protocol Security (IPSec).
Mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): OKI smart MFPs include embedded software to enable site managers, visitors and estimators alike to capture documents on a smartphone or tablet and distribute them either directly to the company network email, fax or onto third party products such as SharePoint, Google Drive or Dropbox. At the same time, OKI smart MFPs are Google Cloud Print ready and are compatible with Airprint by Apple Inc.
Device and contract management – The ability to track device usage remotely for future planning and asset management.One of the engines behind this smart capability is OKI’s sXP (smart extendable platform). The web-services based platform enables seamless integration of smart MFPs with a company’s bespoke system or third party solutions including Sendys Explorer a document management system that comes with the smart MFP at no extra cost. This ensures that document capture, distribution, management and output is efficiently executed and implemented to help improve productivity.
No compromise on colour
One of the most important aspects of OKI printers is that they offer all this advanced functionality without compromising on the quality and flexibility of the colour printing. Printers and MFP heading for the site office need to be able to replicate the finer details on drawings, but also quickly print out a big ‘wet paint’ or other health and safety signs, for example. Besides, BIM adoption won’t take away the need for marketing materials, for the admin surrounding land purchases and the growing need for public consultations with all the colour collateral these demand.
For high-end work, OKI’s graphics arts printers offer exceptional print quality down to 1pt font level. These can play a dual role, printing on demand any size and level of document from A3 plans and drawings to marketing collateral, banners and posters on a range of media to save money on outsourcing. All devices in OKI’s new colour range include new features to improve connectivity and to enable the fast transfer of large colour files across a network; ideal for sending large drawings or sales brochures alongside 1 GB-plus memories for easy handling of graphics-intensive work.
OKI printers have endured mud, grit, dust and rough handling on many a construction site. They are also extremely compact, making them ideal for the small and busy site office. They are built to perform with high speeds and flexible finishing options they have extra inbuilt functionality to make life simpler for users. Many have colour LCD touch screens for ease of use and generous paper capacity for their size.
They are also built to extremely high environmental standards, so fit comfortably with an AEC businesses sustainability charter or other environmental policy. For example, OKI’s pioneering LED technology makes printers highly energy efficient, toner cartridges are high capacity and duplex print comes as standard for reduced paper usage.Migrating to BIM inevitably brings a period of reassessment and change – prompting businesses to take a long, hard look at their processes and workflow. As part of this transformation, it will pay to make sure the business has the right tools outside of the design office, as well as within.
Oki Systems UK
Please note: this is a commercial profile