Automate Your Workflow
How and why to implement production automation was the focus of “Three Views on Automating Your Graphics Workflow,” a panel session held yesterday morning. Moderated by SGIA’s Dan Marx, the panelists included Jeremy Pilcher of Innovate Print Solutions, Bart Fret of GMG Americas (Booth 263) and Steve Bennett of ESKO (Booth 1321). Recognizing that there is a broad range of approaches on the issue, each speaker made a short presentation, based on their successful experiences.
Bennett noted that industry expert Joe Webb has shown that workflow automation adoption in the large graphics sector of the printing industry lags behind other sectors like packaging, commercial print, and books, magazines and newspapers.
He advised taking a holistic approach, investing in what your company needs to optimize today, and then scale up. All equipment suppliers, he said, need to supply data on your machines’ productivity, which can then be reviewed. Automating the proofing process with a virtual proof also saves time. “A physical sample should be the last step before production,” he said.
“What are the real costs?” asked Fret in his presentation. Errors in the typical job cycle, he said, leads to additional cycles, which raises the total costs of production. “Extra hours in prepress eats away margin,” he said. To address it, he had several recommendations, including not using canned profiles, having a quality assurance program in place and working with a dedicated color management solution. This reduces the number of cycles, costs go down and press operators can do more jobs per day. Or as he emphasized: “DOUBLE throughput with the same human resources.”
Pilcher used his work with various customers to offer his take on what an automated system can achieve. For one, it means that customers can move their jobs along more easily. Also, “automation leads to organization,” he offered. “You don’t have to re-do your entire system,” he added, but you can “be more efficient with what you have.”