Workflow Management in Printing and Manufacturing

The world today has entered the information age and is moving toward the era of knowledge economy. For our traditional printing industry, information technology is no exception to provide great support for its development, and at the same time promote the transformation of the printing industry. With the development of printing equipment toward full digitalization, in order to continuously improve the efficiency of manufacturing systems and reduce manufacturing costs, different digital workflows will emerge in response to market demand.

1. Definition of printing workflow
The workflow comes from the production organization and office automation. It is a concept proposed for activities with fixed programs in daily work. The purpose of the proposal is to perform these tasks and monitor them according to certain rules and procedures by breaking down the work into well-defined tasks and roles. To achieve the goal of improving work efficiency, reducing production costs, and improving the company's production and operation management level and corporate competitiveness.

Workflows in the printing industry mean different things for different suppliers. The traditional workflow is only for the prepress area, such as Creo's Prinergy Connect; for Heidelberg's Prinect system, the workflow is a broad-based, comprehensive approach that covers everything from All aspects of prepress, printing and postpress; for Xerox, their workflow is defined from the customer's point of view: the entire end-to-end process, from creating a job or document to printing, shipping, invoicing receipts .

2. Why Workflow Management Technology is Needed
People often think that we already have the best equipment, the best staff, and the most effective internal management mechanism. Why continue to invest in workflow management? This is because the advanced unit technology helps solve the technical bottlenecks of the company and thus improves the competitiveness of the company. But if the cell technologies cannot coordinate with each other and become an organic whole, the maximum potential of their manufacturing systems
Can not be excavated, from another point of view this is also a waste of resources (funds).

However, the management of the printing workflow is to solve the problem of coordination and optimization of the printing manufacturing system. This is because:

1 Workflow technology is often used to automate processes by helping users to achieve or complete business goals by passing documents, information, or tasks between participants in pre-defined rules and processes.

2 workflow technology is usually implemented BRP

A better approach to process or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), because workflow technology provides the separation of business process logic from its information support systems, and enables application logic and process logic separation. This approach has significant advantages in enterprise applications. It can improve the system performance by modifying (redefining) the process model without modifying the implementation of the specific functional module (hardware system, operating system, data system, user interface, etc.), and realizes the partial or complete integration of the production and operation process. Management effectively organizes people, information and application tools together, increases software reuse, and maximizes the effectiveness of the system.

3 Workflow technology can support enterprises to achieve process control and decision support for business management and production organizations. It can achieve the requirements of modern enterprises to "appropriate time to pass appropriate information to appropriate people";

4 Workflow system can also provide system log function. This kind of log record provides very important data for post-operation analysis and process optimization of the operation of the enterprise's business process.

Therefore, if there is no good production process and workflow management software, the enterprise's manufacturing system will be like a lame run, eventually missing real development opportunities, and even affecting business.

The workflow software in printing manufacture can carry on the key control to each step of every production task in the entire production process system, after connecting MIS system and accounting system, can solve all problems from prepress to postpress processing. All in all, the workflow has the advantages of cost savings, staff reduction, increased profits, and access to new services.

3. The development of printing workflow
The establishment of a digital production environment is driving the modern printing process. The digitalization of the job flow creates the fastest channel between the final print and the digital file. At present, most of the printing workflows of most manufacturers are based on PDF workflows. For example, Prinergy Connect, which is a PDF-based prepress workflow and content management tool, is used to organize the production of prepress and printing plates; the internal data of ElecRoc is in PDF format, which includes the creation and printing of jobs. Before, printing, postpress.

Since many printers are seeking to work together with the two printing methods of digital printing and offset printing, the integration of digital printing and offset printing workflows is one of the trends in the printing process. In this way, the advantages of short-run color printing can be used more effectively. Digital printing can be performed first or after offset printing. Digital printing can be used for an order originally produced by offset printing. However, if the additional printing amount is about 1,000 copies, digital printing can be used. Therefore, we demand that workflows that enable both digital printing and offset printing to be optimized at the same time will require a combination of digital printing-oriented workflows and offset-oriented workflows, so as to minimize the possibility of two printing operators before printing. Steps to improve work efficiency.

The adoption of an "open standard" approach to workflow is another trend in the development of printing processes. As more and more suppliers develop various processes, we not only require seamless connection of processes from the same supplier, but also require seamless connection between processes of different suppliers. If we can't achieve a seamless connection, we will inevitably create an “information island” of the process, and these islands will not be able to share and exchange information in a correct and efficient manner. This will seriously hinder the improvement of the printing technology, management, and the establishment of an ideal. CIMS. In the printing industry, this "open standard" technology is regarded as JDF (Job Definition Format) provided by CIP4 (International Cooperation for Prepress, Press, Postpress and Process). JDF data covers the entire production process and contains the following information: main data, product descriptions, process descriptions, equipment usage, process operations, and records. Currently, the market can see more and more workflows supporting JDF: For example, Prinergy Connect can import resident and non-resident job tickets (JDF format) from Preps and other imposition applications into Prinergy operations; ElecRoc uses the JDF interpreter to ensure that the workflow supports JDF.

The automation of workflows is an inevitable requirement and goal for the development of printing processes. Currently, Prinergy Connect automates part of the workflow through hot folder technology. The so-called hot folder is automatically detected when an incoming file is found in this folder. The software that processes the files regularly checks the folder location and automatically processes the files. For example, Prinergy Connect uses a hot folder to automatically refine a PostScript, EPS, or PDF file to a PDF file that meets the requirements of a pre-configured refiner. The Enfocus PitstopServer uses it to automate preflighting and editing of PDF files.

Ultimately, the workflow needs to cover the entire process from order to delivery. We will not only be able to manage and optimize prepress processes, but also manage the processes of printing, postpress, and delivery. In this way, we can truly achieve the management and optimization of the entire printing and manufacturing process, and provide favorable conditions for the implementation of CIMS in the printing industry. With the support of JDF, it is entirely possible to realize in the near future.

How to choose the workflow
There are already many ready-made prepress workflows on the market. Their solutions generally include work preflight, editing, soft proofing, digital proofing, trapping, grouping, job tracking, and archiving. On these foundations, the workflows of different suppliers will include their own special functional services, such as PDF file refinement of Prinergy Connect, DotSchop plug-in, spot color management, and Virtual Proof System (VPS). Most of these workflow systems are based on client/server, so the processing can be distributed to multiple workstations or processors. This optimizes system resources and increases production efficiency. In addition, this workflow solution can compress large files and reduce network traffic between workstations.

In addition to purchasing ready-made workflows, you can also assemble a self-organized workflow. When building a workflow, you must acquire all the stand-alone software required for prepress production except for hardware devices; you need a scripting expert to ensure that all independent workflow functions are integrated into an automated whole; a process engineer is required Analyze and model the process and propose a meaningful process management solution.

Before deciding whether to establish or purchase a workflow, the cost issue must be considered first. Its bottom line is the profit and loss point, at least to maintain balance of payments; then it is to consider the prepress production requirements. The heavy workload, complex design and speed requirements of the platesetter generally require the selection of an off-the-shelf prepress workflow system; the second consideration is the technical level of your prepress department. If you set up your own workflow, you need a skilled prepress operator.

If you decide to purchase a ready-made work flow, the technical training and technical service of the product will need to be considered. Only good technical support can make good work processes perform well in production, truly improve work efficiency, save costs, increase profits, and enhance the competitiveness of enterprises.

With the trend of printing jobs showing short livelihoods, increasing complexity of work items, and increasing management costs, and under the impetus of JDF development, workflow management technology will continue to mature and improve, and will surely become a printing and manufacturing industry. A better future.

Reprinted from: Guangdong Printing


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