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PDF + JDF = ADF: A Formula for Canon Print Shop Success

By Jonathan Malone-McGrew, Mary Ann Rowan on July 05, 2022

Workflow automation, already growing steadily in significance on print shop floors, has transcended the ‘nice to have’ bracket into essential territory. Every print shop is facing challenges where eliminating touchpoints, adjusting to decreased staffing levels, and managing production remotely have become the reality for businesses the world over. The ability to reduce human intervention, boost visibility across end-to-end workflows, and create seamless progression from job onboarding through to delivery, are critical components of successful and smart print production environments.

At Solimar Systems, we developed a handy formula for print shop success: PDF + JDF = ADF. Moreover, we are proud to be working hand-in-hand with our partners at Canon Solutions America (CSA) to make the formula a reality. 

Get Familiar with the Formats

Gartner defines an Automated Document Factory (ADF) as: “An architecture and set of processes to manage the creation and delivery of mission-critical, high-volume digital documents. The ADF applies factory production concepts to the document production — raw materials, including data and preparation instructions, enter the ADF, where they are transformed into digital documents and prepared for delivery.” An ADF generates a positive impact on the bottom line thanks to efficiencies that can add up to significant cost savings. 

One key to an efficient ADF is standardization on a print file format. Most people are familiar with Portable Document Format (PDF). When the PDF reader became available free of charge, the genie escaped the bottle, and PDF became a dominating force. It is why trillions of pages are now stored in PDF, and the format is the clear winner over legacy data streams. PDF facilitates a reactive workflow. Its features are specifically designed for electronic workflows and collaborative processes that require approval. Even the oldest versions of PDF provide amazing functionality as these capabilities continue to evolve with encryption updates and new features. 

With Canon, we have an innovative approach to facilitating the move to a PDF-centric print and digital delivery production environment while still leveraging Intelligent Print Data Stream (IPDS) two-way connectivity. thINK Forum members will be aware that many continuous feed devices leverage IPDS as a secure and performant way to send work to the high-speed presses. With our partnership, Canon and Solimar can take PDF and containerize it (or wrap it) with IPDS, so you get the best of both worlds. The result is the ability to standardize on PDF and still leverage any advantages of connecting to the Canon press through IPDS.

Lack of visibility is a source of anguish in under-automated production environments. A holistic view of the shop floor is essential to management to manage inventory costs, labor rates, and invoice accurately and in a timely manner. On the production side, visibility on a more granular level is required, from knowing when a job has arrived, to its condition, to what needs to occur before it gets on the press, to when it’s on the press, to when it’s in finishing, and when it’s launched for mail. 

This is where the Job Definition Format (JDF)/Job Messaging Format (JMF) communications with Solimar’s strategic partners make a huge difference; it enables our users to gather ink and media data following job runs and feed that back to the system, allowing production managers to audit and compare what was estimated versus what they received. This data provides accurate insights into the actual running costs. 

Is a Combined CSA and Solimar Solution Right for You?

Ask your Canon representative. Beyond the technology, Mary Ann Rowan and Jonathan Malone-McGrew at Solimar Systems are proud to have built great relationships in the Canon organization. As a partner, they make sure they are available to all thINK members and Canon representatives for conversations about print production and digital delivery workflows. If PDF+JDF=ADF is intriguing, let’s start a conversation. Both of our organizations are here to help offer impactful solutions that will result in meaningful ROI. We look forward to helping you with your next workflow and print upgrade.