Star product: Crispy Mountain Keyline

By Simon Eccles, Monday 04 March 2019

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

sp-keyline

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 and the distributor for UK and Ireland is Cloud to Print.

According to Wayne Beckett, sales director at Cloud to Print, “Keyline is the first fully automated production software that seamlessly integrates via application program interfaces (APIs) with other software applications.”

He stresses that this is not a modular system, saying “Keyline is a fully implemented system that covers the entire value chain from estimating through to invoice.”

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?

Keyline was launched in Germany in 2014 and was brought to the UK market in June 2018. 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 (VPress is a partner, see Me & My... on p30) 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’s 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. 

What support is offered?

Keyline is supported in English by Cloud to Print and Crispy Mountain in the UK. Support is supplied by Cloud-based comms systems such as Slack and Intercom.

What 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 £5,000 for the set-up stage. The online SAAS fees are fixed, starting at €499 (about £426) per month for one to five users. 

What is the sales target, how many are installed?

Keyline currently has 30 customers globally and six in the UK. “We are hoping to double this figure in 2019,” says Beckett. 


SPECIFICATIONS

Functions Job creation, estimating, automatic scheduling and re-scheduling, job tracking, data import/export to third party systems via APIs

SAAS platform Amazon Web Services

User access platform Anything that can run a web browser

Data back-up Via AWS in Germany and Ireland, local data download and storage

Price Depends on scope but £5,000 for a small business. SAAS access from €499 (£426) for one to five users. 

Contact Cloud to Print 020 8064 0262 www.cloudtoprint.co.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. 

Price On application

Contact EFI 01246 298000 www.efi.com

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. 

Price On application

Contact Imprint Business Systems 01245 231670 www.imprint-mis.co.uk

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. 

Pricing  On application

Contact  Optimus 2020 01483 740233 www.optimus2020.com

PrintJob

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

Pricing  No setup fees, monthly pricing depending on features and usage

Contact  PrintJob 020 8144 2778 www.printjob.com

Tharstern MIS

Long established MIS with a large user base. Mostly it is locally hosted, but there are some SAAS components. Tharstern stresses its integration abilities with third party production and business systems. 

Price  From £12,000 for a basic five-user  system, sky’s the limit

Contact  Tharstern 01282 860660 www.tharstern.com


USER REVIEW

“The fact that Keyline is cloud-based is a major advantage. We’re trying to be a bit more flexible with our staff and allow them to work from home. There are also no IT issues with it, as you’re not patching bits of software and updating things” 4/5  

Scott Pearce Managing partner, Datum, Hatfield

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