Editor's Note: Take Control of Your Workflow

As technology technology continues to move toward a manufacturing- or industrial-centric environment, digital workflow solutions and equipment that allow for more automation are going to become more and more essential within wide-format print-for-pay (PFP) shops.
But as with any new technology—you tech geeks out there (i.e. iPhone, Blackberry, and Smartphone users) know what I’m talking about—it has the potential to take over your life—and your business—if you let it.

These days there are so many things that pull at our attention, so many things that have the potential to really help grow our businesses—if they’re used in the right way. Take for instance PDFs and PDF software. In many cases, PDF files have really been a benefit to the printing industry, allowing customers and print shops to exchange files that are easy to view with the free reader and are reliable. PDFs are probably one of the most commonly used files for electronically distributing, viewing, and printing data, information, and graphics.

But since there are multiple versions of Adobe PDF files, there can be issues when users to go print a file. In the article beginning on page 24, Océ’s Maree Joyce outlines several steps to aid PFPs to resolve PDF printing problems and get control of the PDF workflow within their shops.
But what about the wide-format shop’s “holy grail” software—RIPs? When it comes to picking the right software to run your print production department, when is the basic “in-the-box” RIP enough and when does it really pay to buy a professional RIP? Does it really matter?

According to industry experts, a professional RIP optimizes the performance of virtually every wide-format device available today—in terms of color reproduction, throughput speeds, and workflow efficiency—in ways that lesser RIPs simply cannot. But what makes a good RIP good? Beginning on page 14, Steven Shaw talks with RIP experts to outline what to look for in a good professional RIP and how to make the decision that works best for your shop and workflow—gaining control over a very important and essential part of your company’s workflow.

These are just two tools that are used in wide-format PFP businesses, but how they are implemented within the shop can make a big impact on a shop’s ability to respond to changes, gain business, and even add capacity. Knowing where to invest the time and money into technology, and when it’s not going to add anything to the bottom line, is a fine line that will only get more difficult as the tech gets better, and the margins get thinner.