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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In early March, at the Graphics of the Americas (GOA) 2012 show in Miami, Nick Benkovich, Kodak product management director for print workflow, presented a session on "Workflow Efficiencies through Automation and Integration." As one of only 52 certified JDF experts in the world, Benkovich is an active member in CIP4, the International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press, and Postpress Organization, whose mission is to foster the adoption of process automation in the printing industry. (See our JDF retrospective cover story from September 2011) In the presentation, he examined the evolution of automation, highlighted the benefits of integrating business and production workflow systems, and provided attendees with insights on how to optimize their technology investments. Benkovich discussed how automation and integration can drive costs out of the print manufacturing process through increased visibility, streamlined efficiencies, and reduction of manual touch points and error.
GOA attendees were among the first to get a sneak peak at some of Kodak's innovative new workflow solutions, to be unveiled at drupa, including a preview of the next generation of Prinergy Workflow System and its InSite Prepress Portal System.
Automating "macro" tasks increases efficiency ... and productivity, agreed Enfocus VP Fabian Prudhomme, enabling printers to move more orders, get more customers, improve margins/profits, and even move into new markets. Prudhomme outlined his four major benefits of automation at GRAPH EXPO 2011 in this MPR video.
Packaging and POP, Too
Heidelberg will present its solutions portfolio at drupa in the form of complete print shop workflows for commercial print and packaging sectors. Also for package printers, Esko's new color workflow supports PantoneLIVE. Visitors to drupa will experience a color- management workflow that encompasses the entire packaging supply chain and ensures first-time-every-time color integrity.
"Market research consistently reveals that consumers use the color and shape of a package to recognize and select the product they want when shopping," said Geert De Proost, software engines director for Esko. "That is why brand owners are so concerned about an accurate representation of package colors. For the same reason, we decided to implement support for PantoneLIVE from X-Rite in our workflow. PantoneLIVE delivers an end-to-end solution that, for the first time, addresses the needs and requirements of every single discipline within the packaging supply chain. This means that the brand manager will see an accurate representation of on-press color early in the design process, while converters can be assured of first-time-right color proofing and easy-to-match color on press. This sets the right expectations from the beginning of the process and has the potential to significantly reduce time to market."
In the wide-format print space, Esko demonstrated a practical production workflow together with partner PriscoDigital at the HP user group's Dscoop7 event in March. The pair created, printed, and finished 3D POP / POS displays as well as 2D samples. The large-format inkjet workflow featured an Esko i-cut Suite front-end workflow, preparing files for print while creating cutting instructions for the finishing table. PDF print files traveled to a Caldera RIP before being printed on an HP Scitex FB 700 Printer. Printed sheets then were cut on an Esko Kongsberg i-XP 24 finishing table.
"Many of our customers are looking for technologies that they can immediately integrate into their business, that will provide new innovative products for their customers," said Eric Gutwillig, marketing VP for PriscoDigital. "They also seeking ways to better differentiate their businesses from their competition. The combination of novel technologies from our partners at HP, Esko, and Caldera will expand print providers' capabilities, making the world less rectangular with creative 3D packaging and display projects as well as addressing many ecological challenges."
Enfocus PitStop, the leading PDF quality-control solution, is celebrating its15th "birthday" with the release of a new version at drupa. More than 130,000 PitStop users worldwide will benefit from significantly more accurate and flexible PDF preflight and correction when Enfocus releases PitStop Pro and PitStop Server 11, the firm said. Version 11's "Smart Preflight & Correction" is a key Enfocus advancement that allows real-time interactions of user or job-fed profile settings. The automated use of metadata (e.g. JDF and XML) for job processing, via PitStop Server, introduces a new level of automation.
"The new version of PitStop is interesting," said Hinderliter, the prepress consultant. "In the past, automation was modeled on print shop workflows." If a file failed, it had to be fixed by hand, he added, but now it can be fixed more on the fly. "Operators are involved in the file's pass or fail procedure. It [v.11] makes corrective action easier for people, offering a blend of the speed of automation with the flexibility of human operators," noted Hinderliter, adding that the days of massive manual intervention are over.