Tracking Data in the Digital Bindery
How important is data in digital finishing? It’s critical. You’re probably relating this to the fact that digital is (by its file-based nature) all about variable data. But beyond creating personalized documents and books, there is the larger question of integrating production data into the plant workflow and MIS systems.
In your ideal production environment, you want a closed-loop system where digitally-printed products can be tracked through the finishing process and "marked off" against the database, or data file from where they originated. At the same time, this system would record the absence of a product that’s supposed to be there, and send a reprint request to the printer software, or print management system.
Ideally, this system would employ a central server which could communicate with multiple platforms in the print production process. And it would use barcode scans at multiple devices within the bindery/mailing center to ID products and ensure multiple personalized pieces matched. So, it was interesting that at the recent Inkjet Summit, I ran across Document Data Solutions (DDS), which was another sponsor. The DDS folks build exactly the kind of system I’ve described. Here’s a layout of their iData Manager production platform.
The point of all this is to have complete control of the digital bindery and mailroom in real time. To enable an accounting of all personalized product that’s produced so that the recipients are guaranteed to receive their personalized books or statements on time. This accompanies the trend towards bindery machine automation, and eliminates a lot of paperwork that used to be generated by operators and supervisors.
DDS is not the only firm offering this approach, but they are part of a larger integration of machine automation, vision systems, and reporting software that are designed to reduce production labor while improving the tracking and control of all products produced. When all products are personalized, that’s critical.