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CIP3--Integrating Operations, Maximizing Productivity

May 1998
The fifth installment of Printing Impressions' ongoing focus on CIP3 activities targets the integration power of MAN Roland's PECOM networking system. PECOM, including the PPI2 prepress interface and Technical Press Preparation (TPP) workstation, links MAN Roland's open architecture CIP3-compliant fiber-optic based Roland 300, 700 and 900 sheetfed and ROTOMAN web presses with other devices. It uses the Print Production Format (PPF) file structure established by the CIP3 consortium.

In digital prepress, sophisticated front-end technology obsolescence occurs every 18 months or even far sooner. In the pressroom, however, change is far less accelerated. A printer will buy a printing press and, while digital upgrades and other automated enhancements might be on the agenda within a year or two of installation, the press is welcomed as a permanent fixture.

MAN Roland knows this fact of life. The maker of highly automated sheetfed and web offset presses also knows, however, that today's pressrooms need to push to greater levels of productivity.

A digital workflow offers the efficiencies necessary to achieve this productivity—with CIP3 serving as the enabling tool.

At present, MAN Roland customers are among some of the world's first printers to benefit from true CIP3 connectivity from prepress, press and postpress integration via MAN Roland's GATF InterTech award-winning PECOM press center.

"Assuring digital connectivity is part of the CIP3 development; the printing press is a major player in this digital integration," states MAN Roland CEO Helgi Schmidt-Liermann. "MAN Roland, one of the founding members of the consortium, recognized years ago that printing presses are the true important players in digital production."

For example, companies that use the industry standard CIP3 interface and MAN Roland's PECOM Technical Press Preparation (TPP) workstation can network an Agfa Apogee PrintDrive workstation, a Galileo (Agfa's digital platesetter) and MAN Roland presses into a seamless system for efficient operation. Combined with a MAN Roland Optimus interface, management systems can be added.

"This is the first true implementation of the CIP3 standard in a CTP production workflow," Schmidt-Liermann contends. "Working together with Agfa is an important first step to achieving a solid connection between prepress operations and the press."

At the same time, MAN Roland's CIP3 architecture is open to other CTP vendors currently complying with CIP3's Print Production Format (PPF). For MAN Roland, open collaboration is the beauty and strength of the CIP3 initiative, as Kevin Oakes, manager of digital press systems at MAN Roland, explains.

"Our presses are technology driven," says Oakes, a 20-year veteran of the graphic arts industry and former Agfa employee, who joined MAN Roland specifically to target CIP3. "We are an open architecture press manufacturer, always looking to enhance the quality and production performance of our presses. CIP3 is progressive—it's the openness of the technology that puts CIP3 on the tip of every digitally minded printer's lips today."

MAN Roland was so committed to CIP3 that it created Oakes' position one year ago, giving Oakes the opportunity to develop digital directions for MAN Roland's family of presses. Reporting directly to Schmidt-Liermann, Oakes works with the German pressmaker's sales force to bring them up to speed on new prepress technologies, products and digital trends. Oakes also interacts with customers in the field to examine current workflows and existing equipment to determine the viability of CTP implementation.

"When Agfa's Galileo began shipping in the first quarter of this year, MAN Roland started offering it as a solution to customers considering CTP," Oakes reports. "We will also be able to help our customers integrate existing CTP systems into their MAN Roland press production workflows via the CIP3 interface."

Why this prepress enthusiasm?

"There does not exist any customer today that hasn't at least explored options in a CTP environment. And they all want to buy prepress systems, as well as presses, that are open and that can communicate with one another," Oakes explains.

"The marketplace is now well aware CIP3 is the format which will allow that communication to proceed."

—Marie Ranoia Alonso

PECOM Fast Facts

  • MAN Roland's PECOM process electronics system provides the means to structure data handling efficiently in a plant environment.

  • With PECOM, data is generated and recorded only once and then is available for use at all levels of the PECOM structure, from the base level, Process Electronic Control, to Process Electronic Organization, to the top level, Process Electronic Management.

  • PECOM and its TPP workstation allows the user to set up and store more than 5,000 jobs off-line and transfer job data quickly to Roland 300, 700 and 900 presses when the job is to be printed.

  • CIP3 lets MAN Roland's PECOM/TPP workstation and printing presses work hand-in-glove with CIP3-compliant equipment, including Agfa's Galileo digital platesetter, as well as prepress equipment from an assortment of other world-class vendors.

  • PECOM will enable CIP3 to deliver its biggest impact in short-run, quick-makeready color printing. "Now, because of CIP3, coupled with CTP, we are able to take on the short-run color jobs much more efficiently," reports Kevin Oakes, manager of digital press systems at MAN Roland. "CIP3 allows printers to achieve sheetfed offset print quality while substantially improving workflow efficiency. The print quality obtained from conventional offset cannot be matched with direct-to-press production, and efficiency advantages of direct-to-press are greatly reduced in runs longer than 1,000 to 1,500 copies."

MAN Roland & AGFA to Conduct Global
Seminars on CTP Workflow Technologies

MAN Roland and Agfa have partnered to offer a worldwide seminar series to assist commercial printers with the challenges and opportunities presented by implementing new technologies, such as computer-to-plate, PDF workflows, pressroom automation and digital printing.

The half-day seminars are part of Agfa's Digital Roadmaps program, designed to help Agfa and its business partners share their wealth of knowledge and technical expertise with web and sheetfed printers moving toward complete digital workflow solutions. The seminars were launched in April in Sydney, Australia. There will be 30 seminars total.

The seminars will cover a variety of issues critical to CTP workflow, such as Extending the Digital Workflow to the Pressroom, A Roadmap for Implementing Digital Workflow from Design to Offset Printed Page, and A Roadmap for Implementing A Computer-to-Plate Workflow.

"We at MAN Roland see Agfa's Digital Roadmaps seminars as an important instrument in providing printers with essential information to understanding digital workflow from data input through press delivery," reports Kevin Oakes, manager of digital presses, MAN Roland. "We look forward to participating in the seminars."

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