To fully take advantage of the benefits of inkjet, it’s important to have a workflow that can operate across multiple types of incoming work, automating tasks along the way, and work agnostically in a mixed printing environment with equipment from multiple vendors or multiple printing technology (inkjet production, toner, offset, large format).
One of the problems that hinders the ability to take advantage of the greater speeds and format sizes of inkjet presses is the reluctance of users to replace their proprietary workflows.
When digital printing technology first came to market, the software that created the workflow was specific or proprietary. It was proprietary for the printing device and may have used a specific printing language (datastream) and been proprietary for a specific print application (transactional).
A custom or specific workflow is uniquely targeted to specific composition applications, specific equipment, and specific products. A proprietary transactional workflow could start with a proprietary composition application, use a specific datastream, and print to specific toner-based devices that can accept that datastream. A specific book production workflow may target certain format sizes or print to a specific workflow that includes a black-and-white inkjet device for the book block and a color toner device for the covers and a barcoding system that later marries both products.
Today workflows and software need to be more flexible or agnostic. By agnostic I mean interoperable between various systems.
Instead of replacing proprietary workflows or software with agnostic flexible, robust workflow and software, print operations will often use band-aids to overcome specific problems introducing more steps or manual process instead of reducing them. While these band-aids overcome specific issues, they do not provide the functionality to feed the inkjet devices at print engine speeds.
Today’s more modern flexible workflows allow you to constantly update and customize work for different workflows. Often it is as easy as adding or subtracting individual workflow steps simply by dragging and dropping symbols in a process-mapping application. For example, you can add or subtract a module to:
Accept and preflight print jobs, fixing issues where possible, and alerting operators of issues that can’t be fixed without intervention
Create job tickets and communicate with enterprise software or directly bill
Accept multiple files, file formats, datastreams, and translate them all
Accept data from online databases for VDP or mailing applications
Check and insert bar codes for finishing, inserters, and postal use
And, if you are using software like RSA’s QManager for PRISMAsync™, it works agnostically and universally across a mixed printing environment, whether it’s a mix of equipment manufacturers or printing technology.
The days of printing just one type of document are dwindling. Most commercial and in-plant printers are diversifying their product portfolios and have mixed printing environments with equipment from multiple vendors, using different printing technology, and accept files from multiple composition engines. To fully take advantage of the benefits that inkjet offers, it’s critical to have the right workflow or risk an inkjet press sitting idle waiting for work.
Anthony Lecesse joined Rochester Software Associates (RSA) in 2004 where he is responsible for Product Management for Output and Prepress Solutions. During his tenure at RSA, Leccese has managed a breadth of products, and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Output, Prepress, Transform, Print Management and Workflow Optimization solutions. Mr. Leccese has almost 30 years of experience in the print industry, including positions with Xerox Corporation in software development, engineering, and architecture, and Product Management. He holds a BS, Computer Science and MS, Software Development and Management from RIT and an MBA, from the Simon School at the University of Rochester. Mr. Leccese has spoken at many industry national and international events during his career.