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Dave Zwang on Viewing Digital Workflow Automation as Holistic Process

Published on March 11, 2013

Dave Zwang talks about the industry moving towards digital and inkjet technologies and automating both the input side (prepress) and output side (finishing) of the printing process. The key moving forward, he says, is to view it as one holistic process.

Hi, this is Dave Zwang for WhatTheyThink.  It strikes me that the technology is wonderful.  People are moving more towards digital technologies.  And if you’ve been reading the inkjet article series that I’ve been writing for WhatTheyThink, you can see that there are tremendous amount of opportunities out there for not just inkjet but digital technologies as well.  But one of the things that we’re starting to see more of, and I think that this is really a wonderful opportunity for all printers and all actually also designers in any production facility, is the - is not just using the technology but using ways to automate the processes around the technology. 

You know, it's fascinating.  People take a look at things like web-to-print, which actually takes the information that kind of comes in at the beginning to feed a press or they may look at the automation in finishing, which kind of takes that information from the press, throws it off the other side to the output devices.  But actually looking at it from a more holistic approach is probably what we’re - it’s not probably, it's what we should be seeing, and were beginning to see that now.  We’re beginning to see it a little bit more with vendors who are looking kind of through the entire process, from the beginning to the end.  Using process automation to pull it all together in a - as I said, in a more holistic way.

There’s been a lot different systems; I mean, there are stand-alone systems that help you begin to do things like that, like the Enfocus switch product.  But we’re beginning to see some of the equipment vendors and the equipment solution providers starting to add some of this type of functionality as well. 

Xerox has something like their process manager, for example, that allows a more complete holistic view of how you can begin to automate and connect.  A lot of those district processes that we used to look at as individual processes, is a stand-alone process, and bring them altogether to really maximize the benefit.  Because when you start to look at the kind of the total cost of ownership, for example, of a piece of equipment, and that’s up people tend to look at things now.  They look at ROI and they look at TCO when they go to buy a piece of equipment.  That’s significantly affected by how you use that stuff.

So looking at automation and looking at some of these more holistic approaches towards process automation from kind of water entry right through to finishing and shipping are probably the real advantage that you can make and take out of the new digital technologies that exist today.

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