Friday December 07, 2018

Q&A: How to shore up prepress and print islands with automation software? (Part three)

Topics: Automation

prepress automation

While we do l-o-v-e helping small businesses automate their way to the top, Enfocus is very much aware that larger companies, too, can sometimes use a hand when it comes to prepress and print automation. Growing faster than they can handle is a common problem that these bigger corporations experience. When their initial growth spurt is over, they find themselves faced with numerous isolated prepress and print stations – and no workflow to tie them all together. 

In part three of this Q&A series, we answer a great question sent to us by Oliver, CTO of a large print company:

We’re a pretty big print company looking to shore up our scattered pockets of tech into one manageable workflow. Our MIS works great, but it feels disconnected from production. We have an imposition solution which isn’t as automated as it could be. There are digital presses, high speed copiers and wide format printers, each with a separate front-end.

How can we create automated workflows that enable us to reassign man-hours to specialty projects and provide more focused customer care?

The step-ladder approach to automation

First of all, proper automation requires proper planning – especially for larger enterprises. Take your time to decide on a step-ladder approach, preferably one that knocks out the easy stuff first. 

Our advice:

Try and get a small number of simple jobs into a workflow that automatically checks, fixes, batches and imposes them, and ultimately delivers them to output. Consider this first workflow a dry-run that gives your team a chance to become familiar with the concept of automation. More complex workflows will follow later on.

Invest in scalable automation software

Additional presses, new customers, new preflighting software, new finishing techniques, … Your business doesn’t stand still – at least we hope not – so make sure you invest in scalable automation software like Switch which will evolve along with your organization, enabling you to stay one step ahead of the game at all times.

As for your shopping list:

  • Seriously, get Switch! It will serve as the automation platform (read: backbone) of your production workflow. Also, be sure to try out the following Switch modules:
  • Metadata module – handles job-specific data used for many functions (think of this as system job tickets).
  • Configurator module – allows for the use of third-party and community-developed functionalities.
  • Reporting Module – provides for a visual representation of system metrics and statistics valuable to production and management.
  • PDF Review Module – controls and coordinates online soft proofing.
  • Client Module – permits local and remote users to access to submit and check jobs.
  • PitStop Server is another must-have. It’s the ultimate automated PDF preflight and repair centerpiece!

Switch to a higher gear

Want to speed up implementation? Visit the Enfocus Appstore for community-developed solutions.

Find out what’s next!

The above solutions enable you to connect your MIS to production. Both XML and JDF are spoken and understood by Switch. Association of job instructions with job files persists throughout and communication will be two-way.

Switch also facilitates file on-boarding via email, FTP or from a file server. You’ll be able to check and repair your files automatically with PitStop, then subsequently route them based on outcomes of your choosing. When PDF proofing is the next action to take, Switch sends your customer an email containing a link to an online portal for PDF inspection.

Post-proofing

In the post-proofing stages of your workflow, Switch handles job routing based on internal metadata and logic (over which you retain full control). Batching and ganging prior to imposition will take place within Switch as it is developed to be integrated with any imposition software you may already have in place. After imposition, Switch continues to control the process as jobs are delivered to output and status is reported back to your MIS.

Questions? Just give our community a shout!

If your team struggles with implementing the powerful, flexible, open environment we just described, you can always rely on the Enfocus community experts. Just give us a shout and we’ll get back to you straight away!

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About Liesbet Olbrechts

liesbet-olbrechts-author

Liesbet has been with Enfocus for 6 years, first as a product manager, then she became the Director of Product Management. She is an industrial chemical engineer with a post-graduate degree in general management. But that doesn't stop her from loving basketball and being a celebratory sportswoman. Liesbet focuses her endless supply of professional energy on innovation and new business models such as subscriptions and co-creation of the Enfocus Appstore. Her passion for innovation, technology, software and print drives her to wrangle new ideas from outside, into the print industry.

 

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