Enfocus Switches Things Up
As packaging applications become of greater interest to print businesses, there is an increased need for software that plays nice with packaging production workflows. Take, for example, the PDF. As PDF is used for more packaging production files, traditional PDF preflighting tools such as Enfocus’ PitStop have had to adapt.
“The reason preflight was not used in packaging is that the files are so complex, because they contain not just printing content, but finishing and structure information,” says Andrew Bailes-Collins, Senior Product Manager for Enfocus Software (Booth 255). “You get so many warnings and errors, and it takes so long to sort out what’s correct or not correct, it just wasn’t worth it.”
To address this, the latest version of PitStop features a new concept called “intelligent preflight.” Inspired by advances in artificial intelligence and computer vision, and built using Enfocus’ new “Geomapper” algorithm, it’s an approach to preflighting that, instead of simply checking each of the individual objects in a PDF file against predefined criteria, takes relationships between PDF objects into account. As a result, users preflight only those elements that are needed to actually render or print the PDF page, reducing unnecessary manual work in diagnosing files that have been erroneously flagged as having errors. So, Pitstop Pro now has a more intelligent and “holistic” view of a PDF file.
Pitstop can now also check objects that are within a specified shape. “This is important in packaging and labels where things are not rectangular,” says Wim Fransen, Managing Director of Enfocus. “You have a certain shape, dieline, or cut contour, but you don’t want preflight violations of things that are outside that shape and will be cut out.”
The result is less human intervention and faster preflight, and thus production.
Enfocus continues to evolve Switch, its workflow automation solution. The major new feature of Switch 2017 is the new PDF Preview Module. This is a fully customizable, browser-based interface for approving or rejecting a PDF proof. Switch generates a proof of a file, and sends the customer an email with a link to an online version of that proof. The user clicks the link, goes to a web browser, specs the file, and either approves or rejects it. Once the customer has finished, it goes back to Switch and the workflow can continue.
The PDF Preview Module can be as simple or as complex as the print service provider wants it to be—it can offer a simple Approve/Reject option, or offer a more detailed look at layers, separations, and other specs. “We had a lot of customers who do maybe only one job a year for a given client, and it can take longer to set the customer up in a web portal with permissions and logins than to do the job,” says Bailes-Collins. “With the PDF Preview Module, all you need is an email address.”
Enfocus is also touting the Switch AppStore. The AppStore now offers more than 50 apps, written by Enfocus customers to share custom-written, “crowdsourced” features and functions that extend Switch’s capabilities.
“We have a publicly available API for third-party integration,” says Fransen. “This is linked to our philosophy that Switch should have an open ecosystem of customer solution providers who want to integrate with the many systems that are out there.”
As production gets faster and more automated, the bottleneck shifts from production back upstream to the approval process. “Production now goes fast, but there’s a lot of waiting time,” says Fransen. At the same time, he added, “print buyers’ expectations are changing. As when ordering from Amazon, they expect to order something and get notifications of when will it show up. Switch connectivity really allows customers to implement these things.”