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Flexible Digital Workflows


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I work in marketing at Photomart, and I'd like to get some feedback.

Photomart has a sizable customer base amongst businesses with minilabs, and we recommend a number of adaptations to digital workflow to them, including connecting instant digital photo kiosks as front ends to their wet labs. One system representing this approach is Mitsubishi's FLEXILAB.

My question is, how many forum visitors are aware of the Mitsubishi FLEXILAB concept?

And, more generally, what flexible adaptations to digital workflow are you using in your labs? How many people blend the use of instant digital, one-hour photo, and online D&P fulfillment, capturing customer orders at front end kiosks and on the web?

I'd like us to get a thread going on this for as long as its interesting and entertaining.

Hope to hear from everybody!

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That's the kind of feedback I'm looking for, thanks. Mini Lab Help users are clued-up Minilab people, so this response indicates to me that awareness of FLEXILAB is not as high as it could be.

Guys, just for now I'm putting a PDF file of a FLEXILAB brochure at http://www.lewis.myzen.co.uk/flexilab.pdf It's 1.4Mb. If you download it, let me know what you think of the concept.

(If you read OneStop magazine, you should also find a copy of this brochure in the August issue, due out soon.)

Essentially, it's about using photo kiosks or counter-top units as your in-store customers' front end gateway to all your services. From these units the customer can send their pictures either to dye-subs for instant prints, to your wet labs for a one-hour service, or opt to have them printed on a 3 day postal service (you use online D&P to fulfill this). All these services, of course, positioned at different prices. There's also an emphasis on workflow, with a server queing jobs and sharing them out between up to eight printers.

Anybody got any thoughts on this?

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Interesting product but I wouldn't think anyone would need to pay extra as this is included in most Kiosk type programs. Our Whitechs, for instance, can route work to either our Digital Lab or large format. If we had a dye sub or lttle inkjet they could route work to them too - just depending on which product / service time the customer chose. You can have it check with the customer first whether they want it instantly, next day or posted - and which branch they want to collect it from. That is all built into even the most basic function - all you need to know is how to activate these functions.

We've just been trialling another kiosk using Lucidiom. It has very similar features - again, at the basic level.

I would imagine that unless you had many ( and I mean many!) thousands of prints going through each day - or a VERY slow digital lab, than anything further than the existing back office functions of the kiosks would be money better spent elsewhere.

What kind of capacity is that lab pictured in the brochure?

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That's a Photomart Doli DL1210 in the picture, Photosave. Capacity is 600 different prints an hour.

Mitsubishi's FLEXILAB concept has variants covering three different levels of instant digital printing (dye-sub): 50,000, 100,000 and 150,000 prints per year (figures not including minlab and online printing).

Production capacities for the dye-subs alone are therefore planned at 480, 960 and 1,440 prints per hour.

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Mitsubishi's FLEXILAB brochure, nice picture, not a lot of detail though!

Sounds like a Kiosk to me, has instant printers for instant prints, link to lab for traditional prints.  Sound like any other kiosk on the market.  Does not make it clear you need a different printer for each print size, so for 6*4, 7*5 and 6*9 that is three printers.  

Photo editing options avaiable?  I think this means just Auto Colour, Auto Brightness, B&W, Sepia & Cropping, no colour or density correction.

So is there more to this than just being a kiosk?

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We have two digital stores both equipped with minilabs so can speak from experience. One store has a smaller capacity machine (700 prints an hour) linked to 6 kiosks, the other has a 1200 per hour machine linked to 12 kiosks and an Internet print station.

Our digital workflow is based on two principals;

1/ Customer Management - we communicate with the customers to see when they'd LIKE their prints ready. Many are not worried it may take an hour or so. Otherwise we let everything go through as soon as it hits the server. Today we printed a customers order of 1600 prints in under two hours - and still managed lots of smaller orders between. Experience of good workflow comes from the good old days of handling hundreds of rolls. Apply the same principals and you can't go wrong.

2/ Lowest cost per unit - we make great margin on volume using conventional photo paper - plus have the confidence the prints will still be around in years to come. Dye sub maybe clean, covenient and be great margin for manufacturers and wholesalers - but does not produce the same mark-up for retailers.

The Flex lab does not seem any different than others on the market. I would like to see this compared feature-for-feature with the likes of Pixology, Lucidiom and Whitech for us to make an educated decision.

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