JDF Workflows — Legacy Meets Automation
MATLET, for example, conducts time studies to see how much time/money can be saved with JDF-compatible binding and finishing gear. It’s not a matter of reducing headcount; speed and job turnover makes JDF more attractive, according to Zerek.
“The economy is putting so much pressure on companies to reduce head counts and run faster,” he says. “One of the ways we can do it is by pushing information in the XML format into the machinery. There’s a huge push on manufacturers as well, like Heidelberg and MAN Roland, which came out with bridging software for their presses. I believe others will follow.”
Not everyone is a big fan of JDF in its current state. Roy Grossman, president and CEO of Sandy Alexander in Clifton, NJ, feels JDF has failed to live up to its promise. He feels it lacks the open architecture and true information sharing that JDF has long assured, but not delivered. He’s troubled by the lack of progress the past two years.
Grossman does believe in most everything that JDF stands for, but sees the incompatibility with legacy equipment as minor compared to its fundamental flaws.
“There are (bridging) solutions for older equipment that allow you to reap some of the benefits of JDF, but you certainly can’t have a complete JDF workflow as far as we’re concerned,” Grossman points out.
“We’ve had some partial success with JDF and some of our legacy equipment. But it doesn’t work very well and it’s very restrictive. Maybe you can do it in any given plant if you design the facility for JDF compatibility. But, for most of us in the commercial printing world, given the constraints we have and the legacy equipment, it’s a long way from reality.
“We’ve had experiences where, for example, we bought a new cutter and were excited about all the JDF possibilities. When it came down to it, for every problem it solved, it created a new one. It’s a much better concept than it is a reality at this point.”