by Piet De Pauw, Head of Marketing
“Bad stuff in … bad stuff out.” This rings true throughout society. For print, it refers to job files. Nasty job files and stinky data combine to undermine production workflow from the get-go. Where’s that? Where they come in the front door and the situation gets worse as they pass through a manual workflow.
What can be done about it? Customers will always send broken files. No matter if you are getting PDF or native files, it can be a struggle. Some would argue that is true, most of the time. If the answer to everyone’s problems is automation, how can it fix this situation? There is no way to adjust customer behavior; with education; with additional charges; with more tools.
Create smart jobs
Smart jobs are production files, yes, preferably PDF, that have production data attached. It’s not an automation thing. It’s a proper web storefront or proper MIS thing. So, what do you do with the happy PDF-metadata couple? Now comes the automation thing. The production data is used to vigorously interrogate the PDF file. See why accurate data is important? The job specs must be scrupulous so that the PDF can be held to the fires of prepress.
“Customers won’t like it.” “It will put off potential to bill for prepress hours.” “These kinds of things just don’t work in real life.” Well, when submitting a book to Kindle Direct Publishing by Amazon, you upload a PDF and get a “try again, here’s why” or a “it’s all good” notification. Why can’t every printer get away with a fully automated file check and report system … that’s automated, by the way? You can. Your customer won’t run off. If they are confused, they’ll click a need help button and have their hand held by your crew. Now you can charge prepress hours.
Back to smart jobs
Having an integrated web-to-print and MIS that includes an automated preflight and proofing service isn’t fantastical futurism. It’s happening right now, today, thousands of times a day. It’s PDF quality control thanks to accurate data at the onset, with a nod to keeping human hands out of the proverbial cookie jar. Humans are unpredictable creatures that will make mistakes regardless of their experience and skill set. Give them a break. Let them do human things, like the customer hand-holding mentioned earlier.
A smart job not only provides processing and decision-making data for automated systems, they also allow the system to update the data for downstream processes. The metadata can also be used to trigger status updates for the MIS and W2P from whence they came. Why should anyone in your staff be chasing jobs all over the shop to find out what’s going on? Use that clever, dynamic, always-current metadata to populate an internal job board. Done.
Proofing. What about proofing?
Generating softproofs. Emailing softproofs. Explaining why the customer sees something different. Trafficking all of that communication through customer service and back again. Sounds like a lot of extra handling, right? It is. How about this scenario? Automatically receive files from W2P or email or elsewhere. Let those files get preflighted by your system, not humans. Have proofs created, emailed, and the customer response recorded to dictate further processing. Still, no humans on your staff have touched the job. Approved jobs get routed to an automated imposition solution, then sent to output.
Yep. That’s possible. Errors are caught, fixed, and reported. An intelligently integrated workflow handles all of these things. Finishing and shipping are not afterthoughts. Those processes are equally important to integrate and equally possible to automate. Is this lights-out? Not really, but it could get pretty close.
Accurate, dynamic data from your front-end systems keep job file quality up to snuff. Integrating systems ensures that data is kept up to the minute and keeps your workflow consistent. Is all of this too expensive to consider? Is it just more of the same ramblings from a salesperson?
Find out for yourself: Enfocus Solutions