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3 Sep

Client Appreciation Day

To show our appreciation, we are celebrating with a complimentary lunch served all day!  Please stop by either our Milwaukee or NEW Madison location to mingle with our BPI Staff, eat some lunch, and check out the great equipment and services we will have on display!

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Print Dead at 1,803

27 Aug

It seems funny when actually thought about, as there are more books being printed now than ever before (750,000 +/-every year).  Self publishing has opened the doors for many would-be authors and crowd-funding has made it easier than ever to get backing for a novel.  Underground magazines seem to crop up on any topic one can imagine, many either crowd-funded or sometimes even just copied on an office copier and stapled in the corner.  How does this have anything at all to do with the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry?

blueprints2We have been in the AEC industry for a little over 50 years.  In the last 20 years we have been hearing rumors that “print is going away”.  Not too long ago we were running set after set after set of ammonia-developed diazo blueline prints.  Then there was shift to the “cleaner” electrostatic black and white prints.  While the images themselves may have been cleaner, toner and paper dust posed their own unique challenges.  Technology has come a long way with the filtering of ozone and toner, up to and including 100% toner efficient, and even full color print capable electrostatic machines.

About 5 years ago, we created a Digital Services portion of the company.  This was a fairly new part of the company, just making its first steps with CD’s and later DVD’s.  We graduated to Flash Drives and FTP sites.  Now we’re using high volume file sharing and transfer sites to move information that would have previously taken hours in minutes (and sometimes even that seems too long).  Again, how does this have anything at all to do with the AEC industry?

In the last approximately two years, we’ve been watching the amount of hard copy prints we print decline as we’ve watched the number of digital sets we distribute increase.  Five to six years ago, when we would receive a request for the digital files from someone for a plan set, we thought to ourselves, “These guys are crazy!” As it turns out, they most certainly were not crazy, they were visionaries, moving in a path the rest of us would catch up to years later.

The Onion wrote an article entitled “Print Dead at 1,803”.  While it was a satirical piece, the message that The Onion was tongue-in-cheek conveying may indeed have a slight ring of truth to it.  In the last 2 years, we have watched as at first there were only a few companies interested in the digital files of a plan set, usually as an “archive set”.  Then it was about a quarter of the companies obtaining sets were digital orders for sets.  Now, fully half, sometimes even up to 2/3 of the number of ordered sets are digital sets.

Does this mean we think print is going away?  No!  We firmly believe that there will ALWAYS be a place in our world for printed media, plans especially.  We think the days of having all field construction on a project done using fully digital plan sets (touch screens & tablets) IS in our future, but we’re not quite there yet.  Who knows, there may be some companies out there who are already there, 100% paper free.  If that’s the case, give the rest of us a few years to catch up.  We may think you’re crazy now, but we’ll think you visionaries then.

Over the Past 35 Years

9 Jul

DrawingOver the last 35 years, there has been transitioning change in the printing industry, just as it has occurred in many other industries.  However, for reprographers such as BPI Inc., change has been evident more so in the last 5 years.

BPI Inc.’s reprographic world has become an inclusive and seamless combination of traditional and contemporary business.  Traditional technologies include printing equipment, hard copy printing, blue line prints, and color printing.  While contemporary business has come to include digital scanning of existing hard copies, digital plan distribution, and digital close out at the end of a traditional building project.

BPI Inc. witnesses the interesting blend of traditional and contemporary coming together on a daily basis.  As a case in point, our offices recently entered into a partnership with a global mining manufacturing company.  The manufacturing company was faced with the task of hiring and managing additional resources to perform a large in-house scanning project.  BPI Inc. was able to save our partner time, money, and resources by outsourcing and managing the scanning work within our own facilities.

As part of this new partnership, responsibilities include:

  • scanning of large and small format documents
  • optical character recognition (OCR)
  • quality control of the scanned documents

PartnershipAnother contemporary innovation and technological advancement utilized in several of BPI Inc.’s client partnerships is eCommunication, referred to in short as eComm.  eComm provides the owner of a project with the ability to monitor, in real-time, all project activity hour-by-hour as the project develops.  That means information is timely, project workflow remains smooth, and confusion and inaccuracies are minimized.

In a more traditional way, BPI Inc. continues to install, service, and maintain printing equipment using various approaches, from cost per copy programs to leases to straight purchases.  All systems provide our clients, from major energy companies to manufacturing resources to subcontractors, with the ability to print in-house, on demand, day or night at extremely affordable prices.

For the last 55 years, BPI Inc. has flourished in partnerships with clients and seamlessly transitioned them from one stage to another.  We will continue to partner with our clients and make these transitions smooth and successful ones for many years to come.

Best File Sharing App

5 Mar

File ShareSo many cloud-based file sharing solutions… where to start? There are many different types of file sharing applications ranging from FTP sites to Dropbox to full-fledged document management systems. Based on client feedback and our experience, we have developed a few items that you will want to consider when evaluating a file sharing solution.

  1. Security. What type of security does the file sharing solution offer? You want to be sure your data is secure. Redundant servers, encrypted data transmission, data backup, and 24/7 monitoring will keep your information secure and always available.
  2. Permissions – Manage who sees what. Application settings allowing you to control who sees certain information will reassure you that only the proper people see the right information.  Controlling who sees what information is a very tricky and time consuming task when using FTP. The more robust applications will provide you the ability to set up users and control access to each of the folders with ease.     
  3. Access from Anywhere – 24/7. Cloud-based solutions offer you access from anywhere at any time with an internet connection. There are some file sharing applications that allow for offline syncing as well.
  4. Tracking activity – Who, what, when? Ever wonder if you are being watched? When using a file sharing application, this may be something that you need to know…. So your answer may be yes.

As these items are all important when considering file sharing applications, select the solution that best fits your file sharing requirements. Create a scorecard representing the items you require of your file sharing solutions across the top and the product listed in the far left column. This scorecard layout will allow you to compare the feature set of each solution.

Here is a sample scorecard.

Product Security Permissions Access Tracking Ease of Use
eShare X X X X X
FTP X X
DropBox X X X

We have found eShare offers a low cost, easy, and secure way to upload and share files with all project team members. While it is specific to the AEC industry, it has been utilized for file sharing across the web to upload, organize, and share data.

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