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Certification For Printers - which ones to get and why

by FESPA | 06/04/2022
Certification For Printers - which ones to get and why

How do you establish trust with your clients when there is less in-person interaction? Certifications Certificates are a great way for printers to showcase their competence while streamlining operations.

Today, printers face very strong competition.  An increased number of customers now contact printers online instead of making direct contact, either face to face or by telephone. Without meeting and communication in-person, it can become increasingly difficult to build relationships and gain trust with your clients. Having internationally recognized certificates can help with building the right relationships.

Getting certified can be very time-consuming and expensive. Every printer needs to carefully choose the correct certificates that are essential and manageable for their businesses. In this article, we are looking into the most important standards for printers:

  • ISO Standards
  • FOGRA certifications
  • Environmental Standards
  • Consumer Service labels

Important ISO Certifications for Printers

There are two ISO standards that are most common for printers:
  • ISO 9001 certifies that a Quality Management System is in place
  • ISO 14001 makes sure a conclusive Environmental Management System is followed
The requirements of both ISO standards are very different, but they complement each other well. It's important to note that while an ISO 14001 certification may not be required by law, an ISO 9001 quality management system is often essential for bids and tenders. This is especially true when a printer works for big corporations or State Agencies.

The ISO 14001 standard is focused on environmental management. It helps organizations to put systems in place and processes to minimize their negative impact on the environment.  This will cover topics in some of the following areas like air pollution, water pollution, waste management, and many more.

FOGRA Standards: Maintaining Print Quality

ProcessStandard Digital (PSD) is well established in the digital printing industry. It comprises recommendations and instructions for actions and target values and tolerances for the digital print production. The PSD was compiled by FOGRA – the German Institute for Print Quality Control – in cooperation with national and international printing associations, manufacturers, and users.

Certificates from FOGRA confirm that a printer can produce prints in accordance with the ISO 12647 series of standards. This gives printers an important competitive advantage, as their potential customers can be confident that they will receive high-quality prints.

FOGRA also offers a service called PSD Colour Data, which enables printers to automate the colour accuracy verification of a print job. This is done by comparing the colours in the print job to those in the Fogra Media Wedge. This digital workflow saves time, costs, and manual steps. PSD Colour Data is a valuable tool for printers who want to demonstrate to their print buyers and brands that they are committed to maintaining the highest standards of print quality.

FOGRA also offers certifications for users, e.g. the Digital Print Professional qualification. The online course allows them to prove their competence and know-how in colour management and digital printing. There is an exam that is required to be taken and once this has been passed, they will receive a certificate which is valid for two years.
CAPTION: FOGRA offers a large system of interconnected certificates for the printing industry. Foto: Screenshot from https://youtu.be/44Dto5d9SeY.

Environmental Certifications are Becoming More Important for Printers

As the world struggles to mitigate climate change, environmental certificates are becoming even more important. In the world of print, FSC and PEFC are widely used.

Both FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) are internationally recognised forest management certifications. FSC is the most well-known and oldest of the two, while PEFC is the largest global certification scheme.

Both schemes have different standards, but both focus on sustainable forest management and avoiding deforestation. Certificates issued by these schemes can be used to show customers that a print service provider is environmentally responsible. There are also quite a few systems set up in place to offset CO2, with ClimatePartner one of the most popular partners for carbon neutral prints in the central European printing community.

Many other environmental certifications are connected with local authorities, eg. the EcoProfit as well as  “Umweltpartnerschaft”. EcoProfit, developed in 1991 in Graz (Austria) focuses on sustainable business practices for SMBs. Today, companies in 19 countries across 4 continents are EcoProfit certified.

Important elements of EcoProfit are workshops and individual consulting run by experienced consultants. After the first year the companies are audited and receive an official award by the city partnering the programme. Frequently, the EcoProfit auditing process leads to the company getting ISO 14001 certified as well.

Another popular certification is the French Imprin' Vert label used by almost 1,900 print service providers throughout the European Union. Certified Imprin' Vert printers must adhere to strict environmental guidelines, which can include waste reduction, water conservation, and the use of renewable energy.

Consumer Service Standards (not only for) for WEb2 Print

While in a local business, both B2C and B2B customers can approach printers by just visiting their shop or communicating with them. This is not possible when ordering online. While reviews on Google My Business have become the first source of information for many clients, they are not entirely reliable and are prone to tampering. Therefore, certifications like Trusted Shops have become very popular.

Trusted Shops is a certification process that helps businesses to build trust with their customers. It does this by providing a range of services, including the provision of a logo, customer protection, and dispute resolution. The logo is displayed on websites and is recognised by millions of consumers across Europe.

To receive the Trusted Shops certification, businesses must pass a rigorous assessment that covers all aspects of their business. This includes areas such as customer service, returns and refunds, data protection, and compliance with legal requirements.

Consumer service certificates have now become an integral part of an online business, numerous certification systems have popped up. They’re mainly provided by consumer protection agencies, but also various popular magazines. For example, "Computer Bild Top Shop". Because of the opaque criteria used for certification and the high cost involved when using the logo, many printers often politely decline, even when approached with favourable evaluation.

Should Print Service invest in Certificates for their Business?

As face-to-face interaction between clients and printers become even less frequent. In the future , especially when ordering standard applications, certifications prove a great way to establish trust between new business partners.

When choosing which certifications to pursue, it’s important to consider the cost-benefit analysis for your specific business. What do potential clients look for when vetting a printer? Which certifications will set you apart from your competition? By answering these questions, you can streamline your operations and improve your bottom line.

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