In recent conversations with many of our manufacturing clients, Controlled Printing has become a frequent topic of conversation. We often see controlled print requirements in systems responsible for managing documents and records to prove that goods are being manufactured and processes are being executed in a repeatable, quality manner (i.e. manufacturing of a widget, plant maintenance activities). Controlled Printing allows documents and records related to these activities to be securely distributed outside the system of record in a controlled manner.
This post will discuss what controlled printing is and TSG’s roadmap and capabilities for adding controlled print to either Alfresco or Documentum.
What is Controlled Printing?
Controlled printing is necessary to track the printing and distribution of sensitive documents. Often times the documents are printed to allow for an employee to enter data on the document from the shop floor and then the document can be scanned into the system. When a document is “controlled printed”, a record of the print action is recorded, along with identifying information such as a unique identifier, the page numbers that were printed, the number of copies printed, why the document was printed, when it was printed and by whom. This identifying information is recorded by the application as well as overlaid or represented on the printed document itself.
The printed documents can then be completed (typically with pen and paper), and tracked for completion by auditing the system to confirm all copies of a document were completed and returned. The ability to audit the entire process allows companies to track their document distribution as well as prevent quality steps and processes from being fabricated.
- Ability to select multiple documents for printing
- Ability to specify which pages to include in the controlled print output
- Ability to specify number of copies to include in the controlled print output
- Ability to capture extra data points including a reference number and comments
- Ability to query the controlled print data by end users and create ad-hoc reports
- Prevent the ability to download the document with the controlled print overlay
One benefit of using this solution is the download and printing restrictions. When documents with the controlled print overlay are streamed to a viewer, the viewer prevents a user from downloading the document. Removing the download feature is important in that it stops the end user from storing the controlled print locally and performing additional, non-audited prints.
This is a significant improvement from other controlled print solutions. With many other solutions authorized printers need to be registered and verified by IT before a user can print to them. This manual process is time consuming and significantly limits the printers that are available to end users. The ability to limit printing from the browser is a significant improvement from other controlled print.
A second significant benefit is the OpenContent Management Suite interface which allows the user to visually see the documents and pages that are selected for printing. Some clients are combining 100’s of pages from 20+ documents, so having this visual interface to review the selected pages is a significant benefit.
We are enabling this Controlled Print feature to be called not only from OpenContent Management Suite running against Documentum, Alfresco or Hadoop, but from Webtop or DCM for some of our clients on older systems that have an immediate need close out to audit findings. This advanced functionality, coupled with the removal of the download capability will allow companies to securely distribute and manage print copies across their manufacturing plants and organizations as a whole.
Controlled Printing is applicable to all types of quality processes. We would love to hear more about your controlled print scenario as well as any additional functionality requirements you may have. Let us know your thoughts and comments below.