Commentary & Analysis
Workflow— Reinventing PRINERGY 7 and Kodak
This article is a part of a series of articles by David L. Zwang that focuses on the processes and products that can lead to the transformation of your current workflows and business to prepare you for the new challenges ahead. In this article, Zwang looks at the release of PRINERGY 7, in the context of Kodak’s reinvention.
By David Zwang
Published: April 29, 2015
Recently I wrote an article about the introduction of the new Kodak Prosper 6000, a significant advancement over the Prosper 5000. As I wrote at the time, this was an important release for a number of reasons. First of all, it was great example of the next wave of production inkjet presses. However, for Kodak, it was also the first major product announcement after coming out of bankruptcy. With that introduction, Kodak proved that the newly reinvented Kodak was still a very vibrant company that could continue to innovate and meet the changing demands of the marketplace. This newest introduction, PRINERGY 7, continues that determined spirit of innovation.
PRINERGY was originally introduced in 1999 through joint development by CREO and Heidelberg (who ultimately stepped out of the relationship), and PRINERGY was subsequently acquired as a part of Kodak’s acquisition of Creo in 2005. Initially PRINERGY was developed as a CTF/CTP system, a single solution that could control the prepress production workflow. In those early days, PRINERGY became the gold standard by which other production workflow systems would be measured.
Over the years, in addition to the many evolutionary improvements, there have been many major enhancements to PRINERGY. In looking back at some of those significant additions, in my estimation there were three that really stand out and have established the strong foundation that has allowed PRINERGY to retain the status of ‘must have’ in the minds of many global service providers. Those are Rules Based Automation (RBA), InSite, and Preps/Pandora.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with RBA, if you have been reading any of my Transforming and Automating Workflows series, you know how much I believe that process automation is one of the key technologies in any production system. It has a positive effect on production cycle time, cost, and consistency. RBA was one of the earlier rules-based automation engines, and Kodak has been continuingly adding functionality to it to support the new features it adds.
Your customers are as much of your production process as your internal staff. InSite was introduced to bridge the client and the provider’s workflow. It too has evolved over the years and is now a fully functioned prepress portal that serves as the bi-directional digital doorway to your production workflow. It can be further combined with MATCHPRINT Virtual and PRESSPROOF to provide color-accurate soft proofs, and it even has iPad support for reviewing and approving jobs.
Optimizing the use of your equipment is another key to efficiency and cost savings. Tightly integrating imposition into PRINERGY with Preps and Pandora (step and repeat great for packaging) is the third, but not the last, of ‘my’ most important features of PRINERGY.
Meeting today’s disparate production needs
However, I don’t want you to think that these are the only really important features in PRINERGY. In fact, in PRINERGY 7, Kodak has continued the tradition of developing, integrating and adapting functionality to meet the changing requirements of a technologically evolving marketplace. Of course, PRINERGY still retains its legacy CTP workflow functionality. But in PRINERGY 7, Kodak has also recognized the changing realities of today’s print service provider, building a system that can become the prepress hub for both analog and digital print production.
One of the most important feature upgrades in PRINERGY Version 7 is the addition of centralized control over 3rd party digital and conventional presses. This functionality is supported through the use of JDF job-ticketing parameters for multiple devices, manually and/or through Rules Based Automation (RBA). PRINERGY Workflow will also monitor and report back the status of each device: digital, presses, CTP devices and proofers through JMF for supported devices. Kodak has the experience, acquired through CREO to support even tighter integration with many digital press devices, so it will be interesting to see what the future brings.
Another big change in PRINERGY 7 is the introduction of Preflight+, a new Preflight engine. This new engine is based on the Callas pdfToolbox preflight engine, the same preflight technology found natively in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Preflight+ conforms to the latest PDF/X and GWG (Ghent Workgroup) standards and specifications to help ensure successful production. You can configure the new Preflight+ profiles directly in PRINERGY to analyze and fix files, and it will also support the use of profiles created directly in pdfToolbox. Preflight+ supports all common file types, including PDF/X-1a, PDF/X-3, PDF/X-4 and-4p, PDF/VT-1 and VT-2. It can even validate PDF/X-5 files. It can create layered PDF/X-4 OCCDs for multilingual/multi-version publication and packaging files. It also supports ICC and DeviceLink profiles and color-conversion blends. More importantly, the Callas engine brings a whole new level of PDF processing control to PRINERGY, and I am looking forward to seeing where Kodak will take this capability in future releases.
PRINERGY has supported PDF versioning in the past, but in this new version it is further enhanced through the introduction of Layered PDF Versioning to support the automation of highly complex publication and packaging jobs.
Automation and connectivity has been enhanced through the further development of Business Link, the two-way communication bridge between PRINERGY and MIS systems. This new upgrade supports many new MIS systems, and it facilitates automated job creation and set-up via the exchange of product- and process-related JDF data between the MIS and PRINERGY.
Color Management functionality was one of its core features when PRINERGY was initially introduced, and it has also been upgraded in PRINERGY 7. ColorFlow Software can access your facility’s resource equipment and materials database to automatically validate your color capabilities. From there, operators can just select the appropriate print condition and run the job. Further upgrades include improved grey balance; easy to use bump curves; support of tonal curves for spot colors; and enhanced support for flexo, digital and inkjet presses.
PRINERGY 7 is not a new clean sheet product development, but it is a significant upgrade to what is already a very strong prepress production workflow solution. As print service providers are looking at standardized and centralized control of their changing and disparate production system, this new release is one that deserves a hard look.
In particular, as I review the list of upgraded functionality in PRINERGY 7, it has become obvious that Kodak has been fine tuning the tools that support label and packaging production. They made a strong commitment to labels and packaging beginning with the introduction of Pandora in 2005. Since then, they have been adding and refining solutions that enhance support for this vertical, and now that they are in a position to allocate resources to further development, they seem very focused on it.
In support of new developments in the workflow area, Kodak recently announced the appointment of Allan Brown as the new, yet very experienced, GM of the Kodak Unified Workflow Solutions Group. Cary Sherburne did a great interview with Allan, and after reading it, you can begin to see that Kodak considers PRINERGY Workflow solutions as a core of its investment and development strategies.