The last few decades have experienced an unprecedented explosion of technology. In the early 90s owning a cellular phone was extremely rare (and the phones were the size of a cinder block). By the middle of the decade email was just hitting the mainstream. By the early 2000s, over 60% of Americans owned flip phones. And today, you can hardly navigate modern life without a smartphone.
Today’s smartphones are infinitely more powerful and capable than the flip-phones of the 2000s. Instead of just making calls and text messages, today’s phones have onboard GPS, high-definition cameras, computational photography, graphics rendering engines, and high-speed mobile internet: they really are like tiny computers in your pocket.
Even back in the technological dark ages, you were able to make calls, send messages, and communicate. But try using a 2002-era Nokia phone today, and you’re going to miss out on a lot.
If you’re still using Avanti Classic, you’re using the equivalent of that old flip phone. It may be getting the job done, but you’re missing out on a ton of technological development.
Upgrading from Avanti Classic to Avanti Slingshot is like making the upgrade from a flip phone to the latest premium smartphone. You maintain the utility and functions of Classic, but you’ll gain a world of new functionality, integration, modules, scalability, and user-friendliness that your print business needs to transition into the digital era.
Matt Prusa, Director of Sales, Software & Strategic Solutions for Ricoh Graphic Communications, describes the upgrade from Avanti Classic to Avanti Slingshot™ this way: “It allows you to reimagine your business, updating your workflows to match the way you work today.”
While your print shop trends toward end-to-end automation, Slingshot™ eliminates the struggle of trying to manage islands of production.
It's All About Automation with Avanti Slingshot
With the rise of web-to-print (W2P), customers expect orders to be completed faster and with fewer mistakes. And those expectations are pushing print shops toward greater automation.
Prusa says that until your MIS connects each of your islands on the shop floor, you’ll be behind the ball with automation.
How is Avanti Slingshot Different from Avanti Classic?
While designing Slingshot, we rebuilt our entire system from the ground up. It’s far more than just a software or OS update (upgrading your home computer to the latest version of Windows or macOS). It’s more like getting a whole new computer, router, and modem. The capabilities of Slingshot go far beyond those of Classic, enabling new levels of automation and unprecedented throughput and accuracy helping you improve your bottom line.
Modules like ShopFloor and JobTicket have been completely redesigned. We looked at the custom modifications that various print shops had requested as their own requirements evolved. Then we built Slingshot in a way that meets the most common needs.
If you’re a Classic customer for whom we built custom functionality, that custom element may not be in the same place or look the same as it used to. But more likely than not, when you log in to Slingshot from your browser, you’ll already have access to what used to be custom. Now, it’s our standard.
Since Slingshot is now browser-based, future functionality will be linked to the modules you purchase. Instead of having to ask Avanti for a custom software build for your shop (with all the expense, time, and hassle that go with it), you should be able to find what you need already built.
The user interface got an entire overhaul, too. It’s now browser-based, modern, sleek, and easy to pick up and use. Your staff will instantly recognize a user interface that doesn’t look like it’s outdated.
What’s New with Avanti Slingshot?
Slingshot moves all your updates to a browser. You no longer need to update individual stations anytime something changes in your software. All you have to do is log in using your browser and you’re instantly on the latest version with all future updates already implemented.
Another innovation starts with the integrations. W2P now directly interfaces with Slingshot so that when a customer hits “submit,” everything flows directly into the MIS.
Here’s an example: say “Joe Smith” is ordering 500 brochures online. He wants them completed by a specific date, and he needs the brochures printed on a specific paper. On top of that, he needs expedited shipping.
Using Avanti Slingshot, Joe’s order details port directly into your JDF-Certified system, filling out a template. You no longer need to rely on your staff to remember everything Joe wanted or custom modifications required for his company. His order request comes directly from his fingers into your system.
Our new browser-based system now comes with JDF. As you work toward automation, Slingshot frees up your staff so they don’t have to think about each step of production. All those things can be prebuilt into the order entry stage. Now, instead of having staff inputting where to cut, for example, your customers can tell you what they want and Slingshot will feed that request directly into your cutter.
The potential for automation this solution offers caused one Avanti Slingshot customer, Kevin Launke of Blitzprint, to say that “one of the biggest benefits of Slingshot [is that] it’s not just an update to a new version. It was a time to look at my business through a fresh set of eyes, with new best practices. [I got to] rebuild the system to match the way I do [things] today.”
What Will Upgrading Look Like?
Two of the biggest questions most people have when they’re looking at an investment for their company are “how much time will it take?” and “what does it cost?” The best way to learn what those answers will be for you is to reach out to us for a walkthrough.
Here are a few big-picture things to consider as you get your demo scheduled.
Slingshot is an entirely new platform, not an update. So as you plan, include enough time to set things up. Reach out to us for a more in-depth understanding of the implementation timeline.
We’ll make the upgrade process as smooth as possible: we’ll send a team to you to set up your presses, gather workflow data, and do the complete build-out. We enjoy offering this “white-glove experience,” where you’re there to help the process along, and we do the rest based on our experience with best practices in the industry.
As with any new MIS solution implementation, it takes on average 9 to 12 months to get everything set up and get everyone trained; some will be longer and some will be shorter. Throughout this period, you’ll have access to an assigned implementation specialist who will guide you through the setup process and take care of your ongoing training.
Your exact cost is going to vary, depending on your needs. Avanti Slingshot is modular, meaning the larger and more complex your operations, the higher the cost tends to be. But whatever the size of your operations, investing in Slingshot delivers significant savings in several areas.
First, you won’t have the upfront cost of a new software purchase. Many print MIS solutions will run you anywhere from $35k-$85k. With Slingshot, you’ll sidestep the costs of a software repurchase. Instead, you’ll simply pay as you go for your professional services and print management software.
Second, Slingshot is under the same support agreement as Classic. If you were upgrading to a platform with a different company, you’d have to double-pay for support while you implement the new system. With Slingshot, the support agreement remains the same and you just get the upgrade.
Prusa loves to say that Avanti appreciates Classic customers just as much as Slingshot customers. Some print shops aren’t ready to make the change yet, and that’s okay. That’s why, Prusa says, Avanti is continuing to support Classic.
If your shop is ready to take the next step and upgrade to Slingshot, Avanti is here for you. If not, Classic is still here, because keeping your business going is what matters.
I’m Ready to Upgrade, Now What?
Your next step is getting in touch with our team of experts for a free demo. We customize every demo using real data from your business, which means you’ll be able to explore what you like, how you’re using Classic, and which Slingshot features will be of the most benefit for you.
Next, you’ll want to consult your various department leads and experts to explore the specifics of how Slingshot is going to work for you.
You’ll likely want to have conversations with leaders in each of these areas:
- Estimating team
- Shop floor
Finally, you’ll need to review the statement of work and complete the contract. In Avanti’s experience, an ambitious company can get this done in as little as one month. But some companies take as much as three years to follow through with everything. So, it’s best to estimate 1-3 years to follow through from the initial demo to finished implementation.
Now that you know all the steps, it’s time to make the switch! Set up that demo to see how Avanti Slingshot can take your print shop into the digital era with automation!