JDF Product Certification has reached a milestone. The current CIP4 program has reached 50 JDF certifications. Certified products make it easier to integrate by reducing touchpoints while maintaining a live digital job ticket accessible at any time by all who are working on the job. Certification and integration is successful because JDF quality has become a top priority.
Evolution of JDF quality
One of CIP4's goals is for JDF to evolve and expand throughout the entire printing process. The initial JDF specification was fragmented and incomplete and did not allow for proper workflow integration, so it could not be tested efficiently. This led to multiple interpretations, which led to inefficient workflow integrations and left the “islands of automation” problem.
The release of the JDF 1.2 Specification in 2004 marked the first stable, complete JDF workflow platform on which software and automation systems could be developed. JDF 1.3 was released in 2005; its main improvements can be grouped into several sections: MIS upgrades with improved job tracking; consumable tracking; and JMF communication improvements. All of these changes have expanded the applicability and robustness of the JDF-enabled systems.
Another advancement took place with the subsequent release of JDF 1.4—reliable signals that allow for better cost estimation and production numbers because signals will not be lost when a connection failure occurs. Once the connection is restored (up to 48 hours after the connection is lost) the JMF messages are delivered to the MIS system for proper job costing.
The development of the specification has led to cooperation between competing vendors. Also, developments have to allow JDF legacy systems, designed under earlier specifications, to still operate. The objective of the expanding specification is improving interoperability between devices.
Benefits to the printer
For printers integrating and using automation supported by JDF technology, it’s a winning situation. One of the production benefits relates to the integration of new software and hardware. Traditionally, this choice is limited by vendor support. The obstacle of introducing new equipment outweighed the potential benefits, especially in the short to medium term. Challenges of integration have been reduced with the introduction of the current batch of JDF-enabled systems by those that have gone through the certification process.
Operating with this technology gives printers the structure and architecture needed to expand their automation capabilities. It will also reduce re-keying of information throughout the workflow. Finally, JMF data collection reduces the need for custom data collection applications to translate information.
JDF Certification is meant to be an aid for systems evaluation and purchasing programs. Buying JDF-Certified systems and software should save you time and money when installing new equipment.
Excerpted from the July 2011 issue of Printing Industries of America The Magazine.