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DFE--On PDF Beta Duty

October 1999
Lake County Press, a $38 million sheetfed printer, pulled beta duty for Prinergy—a new Adobe PDF, PostScript Extreme digital workflow. The results?


The mission statement of Lake County Press, a three-decade-old, $38 million high-end commercial printer based in Waukegan, IL, says it all: Lake County Press (LCP) is committed to the pursuit of excellence and fairness, and will fulfill its customers' graphic communication needs by being an innovative resource relying on the expertise of dedicated, highly skilled employees, utilizing the finest equipment and the latest technology.

The latest technology.

Most recently, LCP served as a beta site for Prinergy, the new workflow management solution from Creo and Heidelberg Prepress. During the second quarter of this year, LCP—which produces more than 8,900 print orders per year for high-profile, high-impact print applications, including upwards of 60 annual reports produced between February and April—jumped onto Prinergy.

Prinergy, a page-based workflow solution, is the first workflow management system to date that utilizes not only Adobe PDF, but also Adobe Extreme, a prepress architecture based on Adobe PostScript 3 that uses Adobe PDF and the Adobe Portable Job Ticket Format (PJTF) to automate prepress processes.

LCP was intrigued. It was interested in employing a new prepress workflow that would enable LCP to better expedite its prepress process. LCP wanted to smooth out production schedules in its prepress department, as well as raise the volume of prepress work pumped out.

Before its 1998 move to thermal CTP, LCP had found success using an eight-up imagesetter. "Our eight-up imagesetter was a great piece of equipment," explains LCP's Kathy Funk, assistant prepress supervisor. "However, bottlenecks in the workflow did hit—being film-based we were using analog proofing, therefore, all jobs, whether they were at the proof or plate stage, had to have films run."

At LCP, prepress operators execute entire jobs, from file preparation to proofing. "They would check and gather the films after output, but, with the huge backlog at the filmsetter, many times our operators could not get their jobs out before a shift change," Funk recounts. "Now, there are many ways around this problem, but we decided we didn't want to get around it—we wanted to eliminate it."

The first phase for LCP was to adopt CTP. By 1998, LCP had made the decision to invest in Creo platesetting equipment.

"As we adopted our thermal output technology, transitioning our prepress department into CTP mode, file stability was probably the single most appealing feature—we wanted to be sure that our workflow would maximize PostScript 3 and PDF; that is why we explored the Prinergy workflow," Funk reports.

In May of this year, Prinergy entered the LCP workflow for beta tests. LCP was the fourth U.S. commercial printer to test Prinergy, entering Prinergy's beta process after Prinergy had already undergone several live-production upgrades.

During initial beta testing, when LCP had a downtime because of a piece of equipment being down or a piece of software being upgraded, it was able to recover much more quickly than ever before.

"Now, if we get backed up with a deluge of work—on a day when 40 jobs hit all at once and we are totally buried—where it used to take us two or three days to catch up, it now takes us a day to recover," Funk states.

Score one for LCP—now reaping the digital workflow benefits of brave beta testing. And, if LCP's visionary CEO Ralph Johnson has any say in it, Prinergy will be far from the last beta exercise for the operation. "To effectively compete and advance, we must take advantage of every new development in technology to enhance our efficiencies," states Johnson.

"After we have conducted an ROI analysis, we move quickly to incorporate any new technology into our operations," LCP's top executive continues. "The technological moves that we have made in our pressroom have allowed us to maintain a leading position in our immediate market, Chicago, as well as produce work across the country."

The entire industry is closely watching the progress of printers such as LCP, as they boldly spearhead the broad adoption of new digital workflows.

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