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Taste For Success

Workflow Software

In today’s lightning-fast world, up-to-date workflow software ensures print companies have access to the latest features and capabilities. Print Monthly analyses new developments in this area

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Maximise Productivity 

It is probably fair to say that many of us are aware of the constant updates that developers are releasing for software. Whether this is your smartphone downloading the latest piece of software or your computer restarting to install a new update, these are hugely important to ensure your device continues to operate as expected.

This is also very true when it comes to working with software in the print industry; failing to keep up with the latest updates means that you could be missing out on all manner of new capabilities. This is particularly true when it comes to workflow software, with this playing such an important role in the print production process.

Here, Print Monthly speaks with several leading developers in this area to learn more about their latest development with workflow software and what benefits these offer to print service providers (PSPs).

Giving an Advantage

Starting with Enfocus and Piet de Pauw, head of marketing at Enfocus, says investing in new software and updating existing set-ups ensures PSPs can take advantage of the latest features to improve efficiency and productivity. He adds that if they do not, then their competitors will.

“Not updating is allowing the competition to gain an advantage,” de Pauw says, adding: “Security is another big reason to keep software updated. It helps to keep printers one step in front of cyber criminals and the constant threat of cyber-attacks. Newer versions often include fixes for potential vulnerabilities and other enhanced security features which guard against other risks.”

For those looking at new solutions, what should they be looking for? De Pauw believes the main factor to keep in mind is flexibility, describing this as key to workflow software.

“Workflows that can connect anything to everything can massively increase throughput in the here and now, but they can also future-proof your setup as industry standards change,” he explains.

Workflows that can connect anything to everything can massively increase throughput in the here and now, but they can also future-proof your setup as industry standards change

“When looking at new software, ask: How well does it integrate with other software? Will you be able to drive all your hardware? Is it compatible with the rest of your tech stack? Will your employees be able to work with it? And most importantly: who will implement it for you?

“Integrators can answer that last question for you. When shopping around integrators, make sure to discuss your needs and what you expect from your investment. Different integrators will have different approaches, so choose the one that matches your budget.”

Looking to the Enfocus range, the developer recently released Enfocus Review, an advanced online proofing solution designed to streamline and optimise customer review cycles using intuitive user interface and precise accuracy. Incidentally, it is the first product on the Enfocus Cloud platform, which de Pauw says is an exciting new chapter for cloud-based flexible automation solutions.

“As we build out this platform, we want to address the challenges associated with browser-based software and make it a viable option for businesses looking to reduce hosting costs without any of the performance trade-offs,” de Pauw says, adding: “We actually have around 270 apps available on our app store today, which cover pretty much everyone in the industry. This number is always growing and we’re working on some new partnerships as we speak.”

Maximise Productivity

Next, Mary Ann Rowan, vice president for product and strategy development at Solimar Systems, says having an efficient workflow from order to delivery is essential for maintaining profitability and meeting customer demands.

“A key component in this workflow is the software that connects the various processes, from pre-press to press to finishing,” Rowan explains, adding: “As technology progresses, printers must ensure this workflow software stays up-to-date, providing the necessary features to maximise productivity.”

Mary Ann Rowan, vice president for product and strategy development at Solimar Systems

When investing in new or upgrading existing workflow software, Rowan says printers should look for certain key elements. These include ensuring the software integrates and automates as many steps as possible, minimising bottlenecks from manual handoffs.

Rowan also says software should provide customisation options to adapt to an existing environment and processes rather than requiring expensive changes to accommodate the software. Meanwhile, robust printer connectivity ensures reliable communication with printers and other hardware, while the software should provide dashboards and reporting on all processes from order to delivery.

“Analysing this data helps managers optimise the entire production workflow on an ongoing basis and address bottlenecks rapidly,” Rowan says, adding: “Detailed job data also helps resolve customer inquiries quickly and accurately.”

So, what is new from Solimar? The company has announced the latest update for its Solimar Print Director Enterprise (SPDE), focusing on enhancing automation and integrating more printing technology like inkjet into hybrid production workflows.

“The latest version has over 20 product enhancements centred around five key pillars: productivity, automation, PDF optimisation, security, and JDF/JMF communications with printers, presses, and finishing equipment,” Rowan says.

Also from Solimar is Rubika, an automated document re-engineering solution. Rubika supports the intelligent transformation of original documents into more accessible formats optimised for modern digital printing and archiving technology. This, Rowan says, allows printers to reduce costs and respond quickly to shifting customer demands. 

In addition, Solimar last year partnered with Allyant to drive automation in document accessibility for the visually impaired. The integrated solution allows companies to transform PDF documents into braille, large print, and audible formats to be read via screen readers.

Plan Your Investment

Meanwhile, Nic Chapman, director of Prepress UK, says workflow software needs to be kept up to date so that it can handle the latest applications.

“Suppliers like Adobe are constantly updating and improving their software and the workflow has to keep pace with it, otherwise you find the speed of your workflow suddenly slows down or newer files simply don’t RIP,” Chapman explains, adding: “In reality it’s impossible to keep ahead of the game, but so important that you don’t just ignore that little black box in the corner of the pre-press department.”

Nic Chapman, director of Prepress UK, says one of the most important factors with workflow software is the ongoing cost

When looking to buy or upgrade a workflow, Chapman says it is important to make sure it has all the elements that you need. He says many workflows come with the basic modules but users have to purchase extra features.

“During a demonstration, you are shown the full-blown workflow, with all of the modules, and not told which ones cost extra,” Chapman says, adding: “Make sure the workflow will cover your needs, and check exactly what you are getting for your money.

“Nowadays, one of the most important things to check is the ongoing cost. Many companies are forcing you to go down the subscription route. This means that you will have to pay a rental every month, forever! If you stop paying the subscription, the software is turned off. Normally, even with the monthly subscription, you are still expected to buy the hardware platform from the workflow supplier. Is this the best solution?

“For instance, our StudioRIP Workflow comes complete, there are no extras to buy. The software is yours once purchased, and all software updates are free-of-charge. Also, StudioRIP does not require you to purchase the hardware from us, though we do offer highly competitive pricing, as we can build our own system hardware.”

Going into further detail on StudioRIP, Chapman says Prepress UK is currently supplying systems based on both StudioRIP XF 4.2 and Xitron Navigator v13. These are capable of processing the latest files on the latest operating systems for both design compatibility and system security.

O Factoid: Prepress UK is currently supplying systems based on both StudioRIP XF 4.2 and Xitron Navigator v13 O

“StudioRIP has all-new proofing colour management tools providing everything needed to setup and output FOGRA compliant proofs on the latest inkjet printers, as well as older models still working away in pre-press studios around the country,” Chapman says.

“Our PressProfiler package has grown to support JDF and XML job tickets from MIS, and pre-press systems providing comprehensive automatic set-up of Heidelberg printing presses, including XL2 and the very latest XL3 generations to automate print scheduling, paper settings, and job progress collection.”

Essential to Printers

Finally, Omran Anwar, technical support manager at SOS, believes that workflow software is becoming increasingly important to the modern printer. He says keeping a workflow up to date is essential.

Omran Anwar, technical support manager at SOS, says keeping a workflow up to date is essential

“We all know how modern technology is continually evolving; keeping your production software at the latest version is just as important as keeping your phone or computer up to date,” Anwar says, adding: “By doing so you avoid potential bugs and incompatibilities, but you also ensure you have a system which is as efficient as it can be, and most importantly, one that matches or surpasses your competitors.

“As for quality, it would be foolish to compromise on the benefits a good workflow can bring. An efficient workflow automates pre-press tasks to provide more reliable quality and greater consistency of output. It greatly reduces the potential for error, not only by taking out the human element for some processes but enabling better diagnostics and error correction where problems occur.”

Anwar goes on to say that a good workflow will include trapping, imposition, pre-flight, and have the ability for automation. He explains that modern printers are likely to run a variety of equipment from flatbed and digital to lithographic presses and proofing machines, and therefore a workflow should be able to output to many devices, offering consistent content output and colour matching with only one RIP process or one common workflow.

As to what SOS can do to help, as an independent supplier, SOS is able to offer the widest range of workflow solutions including Screen, EFI, Fujifilm, and Hybrid. It is also the only company able to offer Kodak’s Prinergy Evo workflow on a subscription basis. Prinergy Evo includes features such as vector PDF or TIFF output, CIP3, batch trapping, advanced pre-flight, and workflow templates.

“Starting from as little as £288 per month, customers can enjoy all the advantages of this long-established market-leading workflow product without the sizeable investment required for a one-off installation,” he says.

“This is an ideal opportunity for printers wishing to upgrade and improve upon their current workflow or take the plunge into automated pre-press systems for the first time, without breaking the bank. We believe that users will quickly see a return on investment through time and labour savings, with more reliable output quality and a better customer service.”

To put it simply, there is no overstating the importance of quality and up-to-date workflow software. Having this in place will allow you to make use of the latest features, achieve high productivity, and deliver the best service to your customers.

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