JDF BASICS -- It's Just the Ticket
"This is a high-priority task for the working group," Motamed says. "Additionally, we are building a database of products and capabilities that will help inform users about which products are expected to be interoperable."
Given that the JDF specification itself is still evolving, the timetable for its broad adoption remains very much an open question. The current documentation poses a rhetorical question that is central to the issue of the technology's adoption cycle. "Should you add JDF-enabled systems slowly with equipment replacements and upgrades, or aggressively as part of a plant reengineering process?"
Sooner or Later?
Implicit in that question is the assumption that industry companies will implement JDF. While there does seem to be a lot of momentum behind the adoption of JDF as an enabler of computer-integrated manufacturing, printers haven't had much opportunity yet to vote with their investment dollars. Therefore, the jury is still out.
Since they typically work with vendors and printers, industry consultants/analysts have a unique opportunity to view developments from both perspectives. A couple of these experts offered their takes on the question of whether JDF will be broadly adopted? And if so, when and how?
"I'm sure the industry will adopt JDF because, ultimately, it is in everybody's interest," asserts David Zwang, president of Zwang & Co. in Danbury, CT. However, he doesn't expect the implementation process to be without its challenges, especially since companies only have a specification to work with so far.
"A specification doesn't tell you how to get there," he notes. "Everybody can read and interpret it differently, yet still be within spec. There's also the issue of how printers are going to integrate JDF into the systems they already have in place. Shops have a big investment in their current workflows."
In time, Zwang says he expects vendor support to "shape up nicely," including system interoperability. Early on, however, the most progress is likely to be made by companies providing turnkey solutions, he adds.