The Washington Post receives orders from advertisers to distribute advertising materials along with its newspaper. These advertising materials are referred to as a Free Standing Inserts (FSI) and are collated and "inserted" into the newspaper for distribution. The advertising materials distributed depend on the sales zone and the type of delivery (home or newsstand). A sales zone is a defined geographical area. The "mix" of FSIs for each sales zone is different, depending on advertiser requirements. The different combinations of FSIs for each sales zone, or group of sales zones, are identified by mainframe-generated Individual Product Codes (IPC).
Since the mix of FSIs in each sales zone is not constant from week to week, an IPC is simply a label that defines a combination of sales zones with similar FSI mixes for a specific time.
Inserting and collating processes are done in a work area known at the Springfield Plant in three distinct runs per week. There are currently two Daily runs per week, on Tuesday (for a newspaper section on Wednesday called "Food") and on Thursday (for a newspaper section on Friday called "Weekend"). A Sunday run occurs all week
to produce the plastic-wrapped packages of ads which are delivered with the Sunday paper.
Change is a constant in business; rules, people, systems, machines, and processes are dynamic as businesses plan and react to customer sensitive needs. As a result, the challenge throughout the collaborative development of a post press scheduling system was to provide a flexible tool capable of facilitating the scheduling process, with the ability to accommodate changing needs of the business processes driving post press scheduling.
MxAPS is a highly flexible advanced planning tool that met all of the newspaper's expectations. Schedules are generated quickly and output is consistent with selected templates.
According to the Washington Post, "The preliminary work required to verify the source data and production template, and to modify hopper conditions may take 10-30 minutes
prior to the first execution. Once these steps are complete, the actual scheduling takes just seconds to run. First, the sequencing engine runs followed immediately by MxAPS's standard scheduling module. Typically, this process takes about a minute for a Sunday schedule while it may take about 5-10 minutes for a daily schedule because that is more of an interactive process."
"The previous architecture took between 30-120 minutes to generate the equivalent results that MxAPS now takes 60 seconds to produce."
Submitted by Matrikon.