Commentary & Analysis
Fuji XMF Workflow
Workflows have been around since the start of computer to plate, when the printing industry looked much different than today. The convergence of offset and digital as well as the other cross media applications has made a streamlined workflow more important than ever. Fujifilm has recently developed a whole new workflow called XMF. This has allowed them to build their software based on today’s needs.
By John G. Braceland
Published: September 3, 2013
In last month’s article I mentioned that I visited Fuji’s Wide Format Demo center. In addition to the wide format equipment, I spent time learning about Fujifilm’s XMF production workflow system, which came out about five years ago. This system was mostly focused on the world market with continued enhancements for the North American market to be introduced later. Many developments and enhancements focused on the North American market have taken place with XMF over the last 12-18 months.
XMF is now in prime time in the U.S. and ready to rock and roll. There are about 4,500 installations worldwide with 125 U.S. installs and growing rapidly. One of the advantages of introducing XMF later to the game was that it could be designed for today’s print market with the full integration of cross media. More established workflows have had to patch and adopt with the results sometimes being less than optimal.
XMF isn’t just built on JDF – it is JDF. This gives XMF great flexibility in reacting to changes or retargeting jobs from offset to digital or visa-versa. Because it uses Adobe’s PDF print engine, it is possible to achieve large increases in ripping speed and output performance.
Going from offset to digital and vice-versa can be done with a single mouse click with imposition and other finishing related specifications updated on the fly. XMF also applies intelligent automation at job input and pre-flighting stages too. A fully integrated imposition engine with unlimited licenses is part of the workflow. This avoids the bottlenecks imposed by workflow solutions that rely on external applications. You can create and edit impositions live from within the workflow via dynamic templates.
Proofing can be handled in one of two ways. The base software comes with a 3D proofing capability that allows you to create a dynamic simulation of the finished product before the job is ripped. An interactive 3D proof can be sent to your customer to view their job as a virtual publication in which they can turn pages, check layouts and color. Even spot varnishes and stock choices can be simulated.
XMF Remote is a sister product that is fully integrated with the XMF Workflow that offers your customers online job uploading, pre-flighting, proofing and approval facilities. A simple drag and drop web based interface allows files to be uploaded from any supported platform at any time of the day or night. Job status is immediately visible. Automatic email notifications can be set up to confirm upload, inform the customer of individual pages or complete jobs awaiting their approval, including reminders about deadlines necessary to meet schedule.
XMF Remote provides online proofs based on Adobe PDF print engine ripped data giving consistency between what is shown on the screen and what will print. Jobs can be viewed as single pages or as reader’s spreads. Side by side comparison of multiple jobs allows corrections to be checked or alternative design options to be reviewed. Multiple users can be given access on a job by job basis, and hierarchical approval process can be implemented. XMF is tablet friendly supporting Apple iPads and Android based tablets.
Software service contracts can be expensive. Often upgrades are an additional cost. Fujifilm has taken a new approach and set the service contract for XMF and XMF Remote at $3,500 per year. For this price you receive all upgrades (point and full release) at no additional cost.
Changing workflows is like changing MIS software, which can be challenging. The shear pain of conversion often holds people back longer than it should. Fujifilm has a workflow team that provides onsite installation, implementation and training to ensure XMF meets your needs.
Workflow automation is the single biggest focus most printers have to lower costs and improve the customer experience. If you are one of those people holding back because the conversion pain is too great, take the plunge.