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    « Don't Be a Shrinking Violet | Main | The Three Stages of Truth »

    October 28, 2009

    Will Printing Decrease?

    Many in the industry are wondering if printing will decrease over the long-term.  I think most believe they know the answer.  I came from the manufacturing industry where we sold software that facilitated a decrease in centralized printing.  We sold document distribution software that was in many ways similar to planroom software.  We allowed end users (or document consumers) in the manufacturing plant to get web browser access to engineering content.  Once they had access to this information they could view it online, order prints from the central printroom or download and print it.  Once our software was installed the traditional processes of ordering prints from the printroom and "pushing" physical engineering drawings to the document consumers decreased substantially almost immediately. This caused a dramatic drop in the amount of printing being done in the central printroom.  So the printing decreased?  Not exactly.

    Once the document consumers had more efficient access to the content they were more likely to print it.  There were times when a document consumer just needed to look up a dimension.  In this case they didn't print the drawings.  If they needed the document to do work they printed it.  In fact they printed it, used it, and threw it away.  If they needed the same document the next day they printed it again.  We didn't collect exact statistics on whether the net printing decreased or increased, but there were some undeniable facts:

    • Centralized printing decreased dramatically
    • Printing on demand increased dramatically (it was non-existent before)

    The same trend is happening in the construction market right this minute.  Are you positioned on the right side of this shift?


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    Cathie Duff

    I LOVE this observation, and see it happening every day even in my office. We don't print out 400 page accounting summaries at the ned of every month as we did in the green bar dot matrix print world of old, but EVERYONE in the department has access to a sheet fed printer and prints only what's needed -- WHENEVER it's needed, and again and again.

    Will Painter

    This article reminds of something the physisist Freeman Dyson said about the the invention of the bicycle.

    The bicycle started as someone's idea but then went through many early revisions and multiple trials and errors before a good design was found. "Even today we really don't understand why the bicycle works and can't solve it mathmatically."

    Perhaps that is what construction is like. Taking someone's idea and applying it to the real world through multiple iterations through trial and error. No matter what, you will always need paper as a tool to help you do that. That is my thought.

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