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SMART AUTOMATION: It’s Easier (and more affordable) Than You Think

Oct 1, 2012 12:00 AM

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Automation has been the watchword in the graphic arts industry for some time. True, many organizations have resisted automating their work processes, falling back on the argument that their work-the creation of beautiful printed pieces—is a matter of art, and of craft, and that those are areas that require a constant human touch and cannot be automated.

The truth is that printing and publishing are a blend of art and science. While the process often starts with art-that is, a designer making a creative concept-increasingly, the actual production of the piece has become a science.

Why? Let’s start with the actual production of a printed piece. Printing presses and finishing equipment today are automated, with a significant amount of intelligence built in that eliminates the need for repetitive processes and a great deal of human intervention. For example, software can automatically adjust ink key settings on the press depending on the job; JDF instructions sent to a finishing device eliminate the need for a manual set-up and so on.

Let’s move upstream and examine what happens from the time a designer creates a concept and introduces it (in the form of a file) to the production stream. This file may be submitted through an FTP site, via email or even handed off on a memory stick. A prepress operator opens the file, and often discovers problems, such as missing fonts, images in the wrong format or resolution, to name some. Prepress must either fix these, or the file is sent back to its creator to resolve the problems. Not even the most automated press can produce a beautiful printed piece from a faulty file!

Throughout this prepress phase, there are many hand-offs and opportunities for errors that may require expensive rework, resulting in customer dissatisfaction, missed deadlines and more. These potentialities are simply not acceptable in a world where print margins are increasingly under pressure, competition is brutal, and customers are always in a hurry.

With its Switch automation technology, Enfocus is dedicated to keeping automation smart, modular and manageable in both usability and pricing. “Our aim is to offer a solution that can easily connect and integrate with existing systems and unleash the power of these systems,” says Fabian Prudhomme, Vice President Enfocus. “If you already have some automation in place, you can use Enfocus Switch to bridge the gaps, automate repetitive tasks, and free your talented artisans to devote their talents to activities that have more value—to them, to your customer and to your business.”

“During Graph Expo, visitors can learn more about our nextgeneration Switch 11 which is demonstrated on our stand #246. Customers can now completely customize Switch according to their unique needs thanks to our modular approach. Switch will help make them successful by speeding up job processing, reducing errors and thus improve overall productionquality,” explains Prudhomme.