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Image Test Labs ImageGraderTM Application Suite receives prestigious 2017 PIA InterTech Technology award

Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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PPI Partner Image Test Lab wins prestigious PIA Award.

Learn More about PPI Partner Programs here.

Print providers and press manufacturers use the innovative, easy-to-understand printed image assessment service to understand how well presses operate 

August 15, 2017 —Image Test LabsTM (ITL), a division of Technology Watch, LLC announces that its ImageGraderTM Application Suite has received a 2017 PIA InterTech Technology award. Since 1978 the InterTech Technology Awards sponsored by Printing Industries of America (PIA) have honored the development of technologies predicted to have a major impact on the graphic arts and related industries. More than 80% of technologies that receive an award experience continued commercial success in the marketplace. The ImageGraderTM technology offers companies a method to assess—and improve—the image quality of their offset and digital presses. After printing test pages and sending them for analysis by Image Test Lab’s automated system, companies receive an easy-to-understand report with letter grades (A, B, C…) for each print attribute. The PIA judges were won over by the system’s ability to pinpoint imaging problems by comparing performance to other presses and, when possible, suggesting fixes. “The entire system is absolutely innovative, from the turnaround time and simplicity of the report to its ability to spot imaging problems by comparing performance to like presses in the database,” said Jim Workman, Vice President of the Printing Industries of America’s Center for Technology and Research.

For the past two years, ITL has been running its patented primary offering, the ImageGraderTM product, on press systems throughout the world measuring the acceptability of the image quality of test prints. From this testing, ITL has built the largest graded printed imaging database in the world. Many print providers use ImageGraderTM services to test new or used equipment, or to measure the performance of presses that are currently on their production floor. Some of the assessments have allowed them to easily fine-tune or repair their presses.

“The Image Test Labs suite of tests allowed us to compare a variety of presses, ‘apples to apples’. We received an unbiased report that helped with our recent nearly $1 million acquisition. We could pinpoint the strong and weak points of every press, choosing those factors that were more important to us,” says Kenneth B. Chaletzky, President and CEO, Copy General. “Since then we have our new press evaluated on a regular basis to make sure it is maintaining its quality, allowing us to alert the service folks if it starts to slip.”

“Besides improving color on individual presses, the reports provided by Image Test Labs have also made us quite conscious of the color consistency between our sheetfed and web presses,” explains George W. Stephenson, President and CEO, Stephenson Printing Inc. “We printed Image Test Lab color targets on our new digital press for analysis and reporting. The information we received back from Image Test Labs helped us pinpoint a press issue we were unaware of, while also confirming that our digital press, as compared to the plethora of digital presses that ITL has calibrated, fell into a high grade of color accuracy.”

Many ImageGraderTM Application Suite clients are also press manufacturers who use ITL technology to fine-tune and improve their press technology while it is under development.

“ITL’s ImageGraderTM grading system confirms that our machines meet specifications we have set for each device, and allows for making comparisons between ink jet and offset printed output as well as other technologies for making comparisons regarding imaging characteristics. The ImageGraderTM system also helps to improve our overall results when working in our technical center and optimize the results we can produce for our customers,” comments Stephen Sanker, FUJIFILM Director of Strategic Marketing and Product Development.

“ITL’s database of image quality grades provided us scientific evidence for research and development, contractual negotiation, requests for purchase, operational decision-making, and continual improvement activities. Most of all, it gave our customers sound data to make intelligent equipment purchases,” notes Jeffrey S. Collins National Color Solutions Manager, Industrial Print Solutions for Konica Minolta. “Because of ITL, we have now significantly reduced expensive onsite service activities to determine actual print image quality and engine performance.”

“We are very thrilled that our ImageGraderTM Application Suite has been honored with a PIA InterTech Technology award. It validates our assertion that the technology is an important tool for print providers and manufacturers to test the performance of their presses. With our technology we can see things others cannot providing many benefits that assist both vendors and customers to achieve the most from their imaging technology” says Henry B. Freedman, ITL founding partner. “Our InterTech award is additional proof that significant technologies can come from a small innovative company of three scientists who created the ImageGraderTM Application Suite: Dr. Peter Crean, Dr. Peter Dundas and myself. We hope that, with the help of the PIA recognizing ImageGraderTM —and other deserving technologies this year—others will find merit in using our tools to test their own presses.”

For more information about how the ITL ImageGraderTM Application Suite, visit the ITL website at www.imagetestlabs.com.

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What Can Squirrels Teach You About Saving?

Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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Source: Printer’s 401K, Joe Trybula

Darwin said that organisms don’t need to be the smartest to survive, they need to be the most adaptable. Gray squirrels are a double threat: they are both smart and adaptable, equally at home in the woods, a backyard, or the city. It turns out they also have a phenomenal ability to change their behavior to survive, including finding, storing, and retrieving nuts. This puts them close to humans’ ability to meet a long-dated future goal, such as saving money. Sizing up nuts… and investments.

Much as we assess which investments have the potential to provide long-term growth or preserve capital, squirrels use their sharp peripheral vision to size up nuts to see which ones are good to eat. Nuts that sprout use up valuable nutrients. A savvy squirrel will use its sharp teeth to cut off a nut’s sprouting mechanism, thereby preserving its food value for winter. When evaluating an investment for the future, such as a mutual fund, you want to be sure that the strategy it follows has the potential to deliver the results you expect over many years, often decades. In a way, you’re sizing up your own nuts!

Looking at the fund’s past performance is an often-useful way to evaluate returns, but it shouldn’t be the sole factor. (Remember, past performance does not predict future returns.) In addition, look at the consistency of the fund’s returns over time. How did it do against its benchmark in a down market? A fund that consistently underperforms in a down market is like a sprouting nut. Consider avoiding it, or replacing it with another option. Don’t hide them all in one spot.

According to researchers, fox squirrels move thousands of nuts among five or more locations to discourage pilfering by rival squirrels. By avoiding losses, squirrels reduce risk. You do the same thing when diversifying a portfolio. Rather than putting all your “fund nuts” in one basket, you may be able to lessen the risk of experiencing a large loss by spreading your investments across multiple funds. There’s less likelihood of all investments going down in value at the same time. Investors diversify by including stocks, bonds, and cash in their portfolios. Stocks, which represent shares of ownership in a company, usually perform differently from bonds or cash. Over long periods, stocks generally have provided the greatest returns, but with the most risk. Corporate bonds, which are essentially loans to a company, offer somewhat less return potential, but with less risk than stocks. Cash or “cash equivalents” typically are the least risky asset class, but also offer the least return. Having the right balance of asset classes may help you save more for the future in a smart way — just like our crafty friends, the squirrels.

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Employers and the Eclipse: Are You Prepared for the Path of Totality?

Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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Source: Barran Liebman

On Monday, August 21, 2017, anyone within the path of totality should be able to see a total solar eclipse. It is the first total solar eclipse to cross from coast to coast in nearly 100 years. With several prime viewing locations throughout Oregon, emergency managers are planning for an influx of about one million visitors into Oregon for several days on either side of Eclipse Day. Businesses should also be prepared for employee absences, crowds of customers, and lots of traffic.

1. Whether to Close

Some businesses have simply decided to close on August 21. However, deciding whether to close the office can be a tough choice for management. There are many factors to consider, including employee and customer safety, business productivity and deadlines, and whether to provide employees with pay during the closure. Starting late or even allowing a few hours off may also be difficult due to the predicted traffic issues. Even though the total eclipse will only last a few minutes, ODOT does not recommend driving at all that day as traffic delays are estimated to be several hours long.

Another option that will increase employee attendance and camaraderie is to host an eclipse watching party in the office. Employers can set aside a small portion of the day, provide a good viewing spot with eclipse viewing glasses, and take advantage of a great team-building opportunity while witnessing a rare phenomenon together.

2. Employee Absences

Many employers are also facing a huge surge of vacation requests while also trying to increase staffing to accommodate tourists. The best thing to do is follow the attendance policy when it comes to granting time off requests. Review any religious accommodation requests carefully as some religions find special significance in a solar eclipse. Employers also should be aware that granting time off to view the eclipse, but denying time off requests for other reasons, could expose the employer to discrimination liability.

Employers may also see abuse of sick leave policies. When employees happen to be sick on days for which vacation requests were previously denied, the employer should carefully document the denied request and the absence to establish a pattern of abuse. Employers who reasonably suspect sick leave policy abuse can usually request medical verification, though Oregon requires the employer to pay the employee’s expenses in obtaining such verification. Employers should send out a reminder of proper uses of sick leave prior to the eclipse. If the employer is particularly concerned about sick leave policy abuse, remind employees this week that abuse of sick leave policies will result in discipline.

For specific questions about how the eclipse affects your workplace, contact Sean Ray at (503) 276-2135 or sray@barran.com.

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PLAN SUCCESS BY DESIGN: USING PLAN FORFEITURES

Posted Friday, August 4, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

Source: Printer’s 401K

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Many Plan Sponsors understand that plan design has a big impact on participation and savings rates in their retirement plan. However, many fail to correlatehow the plan design can have a big impact for plan sponsors depending on the plan forfeiture provisions. If a 401k plan is designed to apply a vesting schedule to employer contributions, the plan may generate forfeitures money (forfeitures can be generated when an employee terminates employment and wasn’t 100% vested). How these forfeitures can be used varies depending upon how the plan is designed.

The IRS recently expanded the types of employer contributions that may be funded with forfeitures, making this an ideal time review your plan’s forfeiture provisions to ensure you are leveraging these plan assets appropriately.

The New Guidance- This year, the IRS proposed a change in the regulations that provides greater flexibility on how forfeiture dollars may be used. Historically, plan sponsors have been able to use forfeitures to offset employer contributions such as matching and profit sharing contributions, but have not been able to use forfeitures to fund a Safe Harbor 401(k) contributions, a Qualified Non-elective Contribution (QNEC) or Qualified Matching Contribution (QMAC). The proposed changes permit these types of employer contributions to be funded with forfeiture dollars. Plan sponsors may rely on the proposed regulations immediately. Since there was previous regulatory restriction on using forfeitures to fund safe harbor contributions, plan documents may have to be amended before plan sponsors can take advantage of this provision. You will need to check your plan provisions.

Who May Benefit from the New Rules- Plan sponsors that may benefit the most from the new rules are those who have struggled to pass their Annual Plan Discrimination Testing (The Actual Deferral Percentage (ADP) test and the Actual Contribution Percentage (ACP) test.) These tests ensure that the highly compensated employees (HCEs) do not defer or receive matching contributions that are a disproportionately greater percentage of their compensation than the non-highly compensated employees (non-HCEs). Plans with low participation or savings rates often have trouble passing these tests each year. ( Also see ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES PREPARED FOR RETIREMENT? and 4 SIMPLE WAYS TO INCREASE 401K PARTICIPANT SAVINGS)

If a plan fails either the ADP or ACP test for a plan year, the plan sponsor must take steps to correct the failure, such as returning the “excesses” contributions to the HCEs or make a Qualified Non-Elective contribution to the non-HCEs. If a plan has accrued forfeitures for the year, these dollars may now be used to fund these contributions.

Sometimes Plan Sponsors who routinely fail the ADP and/or ACP tests choose to redesign their plan as a safe harbor 401(k) plan, making the plan exempt from ADP/ACP testing if the plan sponsor makes a minimum employer contribution and meets certain other requirements. (also see Is Safe Harbor the Solution to your Company’s Retirement Plan?)

Under the new IRS rules, both types of employer contributions may now be funded with forfeiture dollars, but the plan document may need to be amended to allow for this use. Employer matching and non-elective contributions made under a safe harbor 401(k) plan formula must be 100% vested, so would not produce forfeitures, but other employer contributions such as profit sharing contributions made to the plan may be subject to a vesting schedule and could produce forfeitures.

Plan Design Tips for Forfeitures

The following are some steps you may want to take to include forfeitures in your plan design review.

  • Review the plan document to understand how forfeitures may be used.
  • Review the amount of forfeitures generated by the plan, how the forfeitures are being used, and whether the account is being used up each year.
  • Review the business objectives for the 401k plan, such as reducing plan costs or increasing savings rates, and whether the plan’s current use of forfeitures helps achieve these objectives.

If you would like help in reviewing your unique circumstances, analyzing the options available, and would like best-practice recommendations, please contact me at joe@printers401k.com or at 800.307.0376.

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors, but is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax or legal advice. Each plan has unique requirements, and you should consult your attorney or tax advisor for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does advisor assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations

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A Guide to Understanding Color

Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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Color Your Business Successful

How important is color to your business, or more specifically, how important is accurate color? When products reach the shelf, do they attract attention? Do they inspire confidence? Do they ensure immediate brand recognition?

Color is a factor in answering all of these questions. Studies show that 70% of the buying decision is made at the shelf, and consumers will reach past a package that looks faded to get a “fresher” one with brighter colors.

This Guide to Understanding Color is a handy educational tool and how-to guide for all things color. Whether you are a novice or an expert in the art and science of color, you will find useful information here that will help you ensure that color plays a positive role in the success of the products you are manufacturing and recognition of their respective brands, especially at the Zero Moment of Truth when the buying decision is made.

We’ll talk about the basics of color, how best to measure, manage, communicate and report on color, and proactive approaches to ensuring consistent and reliable color, in even the most complex of workflows and supply chains.

With all of the recent advances in color measurement instruments and software, ensuring that color complies with specifications and is within acceptable tolerances is easier than ever before. We hope you will find this Guide useful in coloring your business even more successful!

Want to learn more? Attend our upcoming webinar, Color Standards: Now and Next on August 15, 2017. Register Here. Hosted by X-Rite and PPI.

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