Press and workflow automation has been fairly stable since drupa 08. Going back to 2004, workflow solutions have evolved from separate systems controlling only part of the production process to those managing business-related information in a comprehensive fashion. "Printing using movable type...
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Press and workflow automation has been fairly stable since drupa 08. Going back to 2004, workflow solutions have evolved from separate systems controlling only part of the production process to those managing business-related information in a comprehensive fashion. "Printing using movable type [has turned into] printing using movable data," is how Heidelberg CEO Bernhard Schreier described our industry's transformation eight years ago. Last September at GRAPH EXPO, Schreier, now also president of drupa 2012, paraphrased Indigo press inventor Benny Landa by saying, "Everything that can go online, will go online."
Who could have imagined only three years ago that you'd be able to access all relevant print shop management information by using an app on a smartphone, or allow your clients to view, annotate, and approve jobs on their iPads? In May of 2008, Apple had just announced its iPhone using 3G and the iPad did not yet exist, pointed out drupa media partner Ed Boogaard. Now, Heidelberg has a Prinect Mobile app that connects "smart" mobile phones directly to the workflow at the printing plant, allowing users to check on job status, monitor machine reports, and analyze production during shifts. Fujifilm's XMF Remote app is changing the way printers and their clients interact, too.
"Print buyers are ... creative people, and it's creatives who have been early adopters of iPad technology, using it as a professional business tool," said John Davies, workflow solutions manager Fujifilm Europe, at last year's UK Publishing Expo. "If we want to enhance the experience of these creatives who are responsible for commissioning and approving print work, we have to provide them with tools that they want to work with."
In prepress departments, PDF-based workflows still are "where it's at," emphasized consultant Hal Hinderliter, the newly appointed coordinator of GRAPH EXPO's Must See 'Em program. And showing their product improvements and innovations at the quadrennial drupa 2012 print trade fair in Germany next month—the world's largest graphic communications show—are no less than 147 vendors within the "Workflow Systems" category, which includes prepress/premedia, press, workflow, and data-handling software. The Agfa :Apogee Prepress App also gets a quick check of a specific job during production on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. "A convenient status overview of the prepress equipment, including proofers, CTP systems, and other output devices, can also be displayed ...," said Erik Peeters, :Apogee marketing manager for Agfa Graphics.
So-called hybrid workflows are fitting together all the print pieces. The Kodak Unified Workflow Solution, for instance, is designed to bring all systems together and integrate and unify all available information. Screen has introduced Equios, a universal workflow that drives multi-device production. To be shown at drupa, this web-to-delivery turnkey solution provides end-to-end automation "from the initial job quote all the way through the invoicing of the finished project," the developer said. The single workflow with a single interface drives streamlined production from web to print to the delivery of the finished item automatically. With Equios, users don't need to operate different device-dependent workflows, each with a different way of handling imposition and color management, to drive their variety of Screen CTP, toner, and inkjet devices. Communication with a variety of third-party finishing systems is automated via Equios JDF.