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A recent addition to the available MIS options intended to cover all bases.

What does it do?
Keyline is a cloud-based print production automation system with built in production scheduling, estimating and other management information functions. The software is developed and owned by Crispy Mountain in Germany.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?
Keyline was launched in Germany in 2014. According to Beckett “Keyline is aimed at digital and litho printers who get large numbers of jobs and want to reduce touch points and automate workflow.”

How does it work?
Keyline is cloud-based, meaning it operates as software-as-a-service (SAAS), hosted by remote servers, so there’s no need for local hardware or IT support. Users can access it from anywhere, via web browsers, on anything from a desktop computer through to mobile devices such as tablets and phones.
“Crispy Mountain has invested a lot of time and money to develop the user interface and user experience,” says Beckett. “Keyline’s user interface is easy to understand and simple to use.”
It offers an automated production workflow, said to enable ‘lights-out pre-press’ via integration with other pre-press software, for example Enfocus Switch. Jobs can be processed automatically on receipt from a web-to-print system and/or via a pre-processing gatekeeper such as Switch. Alternatively new job details can be entered manually. Jobs are created, scheduled and tracked, with consumables, outworking and couriers ordered without further intervention.
Once a job has been received and scheduled, jobs are tracked through production and distribution either via direct data from the machines (through APIs) or via manually entered job tracking from machine-side iPads. If production or materials are delayed, Keyline reschedules the job. Current status and any problems are highlighted on dashboard displays.

What is the USP?
Beckett says “The big USP is the automation – as print runs are reducing and margins are getting tighter, Keyline offers a way to reduce touch points, double-keying and manual scheduling.”

How easy is it to use?
“Setup and training is very easy,” Beckett says. “Data can be easily imported from other systems via CSV files.”
Users’ own data can be downloaded, stored and accessed locally by any reporting tool, such as Power BI or Crystal Reports. Keyline’s own backups are held in two separate locations in Germany and Ireland. Keyline can also link to third-party CRM and accounting systems.

How much does it cost?
There are no annual contracts. There is an initial setup fee based on time and complexity, then Keyline is charged on a monthly user fee based on average user logins for the month. Figures vary greatly, but Beckett cited a recent small two-press customer that paid around $6,580 for the set-up stage. The online SAAS fees are fixed, starting at €499 per month for one to five users.

What is the sales target, how many are installed?
Keyline currently has 30 customers globally.

What is your opinion about Middle East and Africa market?
The Middle East and Africa are markets that are growing fast and ones that will understand the advantages of a fully automated production system like Keyline. By reducing manual input Keyline will improve accuracy of data and job tracking becomes more efficient. Online ordering is becoming more relevant to the print industry and Keyline can give full “lights out” prepress when linked to W2P and imposition software. We are very close to appointing a distributor in the Middle East, but for now we deal with all the EMEA enquiries from the UK.

Alternatives
EFI PrintSmith Vision
PrintSmith Vision is a browser-based MIS that also sits within the Quick PrintSuite that supports EFI’s Fiery colour server-RIP range. However it works with non-EFI workflows too.

Imprint Business Systems
Imprint develops modular MIS that can be tailored to different sectors. It is not an SAAS, but servers can be accessed remotely. There are also phone/tablet access apps.

Optimus 2020
Long-established modular system that can be tailored for commercial print or packaging. Locally hosted, though remote data collection uses web browser access and there’s the optional Cloud Mobile add-on for remote access.

PrintJob
Cloud hosted. Originally an online W2P storefront system based on pricelists, there are now four versions progressively adding production and MIS functions.