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CIP4 Innovation Award for synthesis of Web2Print and JDF

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Press release from the issuing company

(August 12, 2008) The CIP4 Organization presents its coveted annual innovation awards, the so-called CIPPI Awards, to honor the achievements of the most innovative companies in the international graphic arts industry in the fields of networking and process automation. HIFLEX users have been regulars on the list of CIPPI Award winners from the very beginning – and this fourth year was no different.

Two of this year's CIPPI awards, which were announced during Drupa, went to online print service provider Print Plaza AG, whose business model is based on the HIFLEX Webshop. Print Plaza took first place in the categories "Most innovative use of process automation – Worldwide" and "Best process automation implementation – Europe". These prizes are marks of distinction for the first successful integration of a JDF implementation and a Web2Print application.

Through Print Plaza, HIFLEX also claimed two more of the highly respected CIP4 Innovation Awards and has in the meantime already collected twelve of these sought-after trophies.

Innovative portal for print partners

Print Plaza is more than just another marketplace for print services. Bringing together five future-oriented offset printing houses, it promises a level of service, product variety and quality unique among online providers. With access to a total of more than 80 printing units, Print Plaza is able to offer a virtually all-encompassing print product portfolio, and one which no single company could reasonably hope to match.

The Print Plaza production partners are Koller+Nowak (Dusseldorf), Druckhaus Berlin-Mitte (Berlin), Mediengruppe Universal (Munich), Kraft Druck und Verlag (Ettlingen) and Tanghe Printing (Komen, Belgium). All five companies work most efficiently, are networked via JDF/JMF and deliver high-quality prints in compliance with industry standard ISO 12647-2. This also allows for problem-free production, despite the broad diversity of production equipment with presses from different manufacturers for formats from 45 x 50 cm (= 17.72 x 19.69 inches) up to large format 120 x 162 cm (= 47.27 x 63.78 inches) and corresponding finishing solutions.

Customers of Print Plaza thus profit from an incredible bandwidth of products and product variations based on high format flexibility, an appealing selection of papers, and comprehensive finishing and refinement possibilities. Currently, printplaza.com offers more than 300,000 different product combinations.

 "Printing made easy"

The market segment of online print shops is growing fast with new vendors and systems – though the applications themselves often leave much to be desired in terms of user-friendliness. Print Plaza, therefore, aimed not only at being available 24 hrs / 7 days a week and, in doing so, at trimming down the costs for sales and administration while simultaneously winning new markets with minimal expenditure. An equally important target was to create a Web2Print application which is self-explanatory and easy to use for the customer. "Printing made easy" was best realized with a fully integrated and automated system making use of JDF technology. After all, the production partners apply various workflows and machinery from Heidelberg, KBA, Kodak, Komori, manroland and MBO, and this all needs to function together in a coherent production workflow. The companies all presented ideal conditions for the project, however, through their use of a HIFLEX MIS for internal order processing.

An "open" Web2Print solution such as the HIFLEX Webshop is accessible by everybody. Registration is only required when an order is placed. To this end, HIFLEX has developed a new system which complements the existing modules of a "closed" solution available since 2002 with a number of brand new features. The focus was here placed on ultimately flexible product configuration and unrestricted JDF connectivity, while providing all the tools necessary for successful online marketing.

Basis: HIFLEX Webshop

printplaza.com went online in May 2007. Initially only in German, the site meanwhile offers also the English, French and Dutch languages. The underlying platform is the HIFLEX Webshop. "In order to implement a best-in-class solution, we analyzed several Web shop systems in advance of our new development, and we are very pleased with the result," says Stefan Reichhart, managing director of HIFLEX. The HIFLEX Webshop can be used independently of the HIFLEX's MIS offering. "Our shop system is thus a useful tool for any printer seeking to enter the online business world."

One of the special things about the HIFLEX Webshop is its structure. All the elements of a print product are separated into their basic constituents, which are configured as tables in a database. "If, for instance, the price of a particular paper changes, then this only has to be updated once in the system and is then automatically available for all products." This procedure is also beneficial in that a relatively small number of items can be combined to generate and calculate thousands of printing products.

A "virtual company"

JDF provides the basis for a kind of "virtual company". With the help of JDF, an information and communication infrastructure has been established which eliminates former disadvantages such as the loss of time and other hurdles presented by spatial distance. When an order is placed, the job is automatically allocated to one of the five partner printing houses according to a pre-defined decision table. This automated distribution of jobs is based on criteria such as product type, run length and/or postcode of the delivery address. The designated printer receives the order together with the relevant JDF job data (via e-mail or FTP upload). The data flows into his MIS system and is thus available for internal production scheduling. From this moment on, the "Internet job" is handled in both the administration and production processes in the same way as any other job – on the basis of the supplied job data, customer data (in this case always "Print Plaza") and delivery specifications. Such information is similarly contained in the JDF data communicated to the production systems.

Print Plaza proves that JDF data generated via the Internet and a Web2Print application can also be made available to and processed within integrated administration systems such as HIFLEX MIS. "It is the first time that JDF technology has met up with Web2Print in a single implementation," as HIFLEX managing director Stefan Reichhart comments.

CIPPI review panel judge Patrick Cahuet of 1Prime|Concept described Print Plaza as a "fantastic Web-to-print project! Far beyond the competition." During the award presentation at Drupa, he introduced the project by saying: "This is the future of the printing industry." And Stefan Reichhart concludes: "The awards attest to our technology leadership in the field of JDF connectivity and Web2Print. At the same time, they prove that our business automation solutions bring greater efficiency and profitability." 




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