By John Henze
Is your finishing operation holding your business back? Or depressing your margins with labor-intensive processes or waste caused by bindery errors? Are finishers disconnected islands in your workflow automation?
Perhaps you’ve made significant gains in automating prepress including job submission, file conversion and imposition, and some simple workflow automation. The next place to focus is to integrate the printing operation with nearline finishers to complete automation from prepress to finishing. If you also have offset presses in your operation, don’t forget about leveraging your offset prepress workflow with your digital printers in an efficient hybrid workflow.
Better Finishing Integration
If your bindery is still a bottleneck, you can lose all those gains when bindery errors cause jobs to be rejected. Bindery errors can be the most expensive errors in the shop, undoing all the gains you achieved earlier in the process.
The logical step in your workflow automation journey is to automate job submission from the printer to the finisher. By establishing a workflow that integrates with offline finishers, you can tie together the various production islands in your print shop, including connecting from prepress to the bindery. This lets you automate error-prone processes, reduce makeready time, and virtually eliminate waste in the bindery.
Just ask Tim Rozema at Get It Now Print in Harrisburg, Pa.: “We save so much time not having to send jobs back to prepress for incorrect bleeds, having a more efficient production process with more work coming out in fewer hours, and even extending into finishing where barcodes can now automatically set up the finishers and we are not standing around waiting for test sheets to come out. We just hit start and the job will just be done when it’s done.”
With an automated EFI Fiery workflow, it’s easy to eliminate bindery bottlenecks by integrating with offline slitter/cutter/creasers from almost all manufacturers in the market. Do you have offline finishers from Ausjutech, Duplo, Graphic Whizard, Horizon, MBM, Morgana, Plockmatic, or Uchida?
We’ve got you covered with how-to-guides for each partner brand that will help eliminate time-consuming and repetitive manual setups—with as much as a 70% reduction in job setup time!
Here's how it works: In Fiery Impose, a barcode is added to the job, in addition to applying the imposition template. This barcode includes all the setup information for the finisher. When the barcode is scanned on the finisher, it knows what to do with no manual setup needed by the operator. Watch these videos here and here on how it’s done on Duplo and Graphic Whizard equipment.
By using JobFlow, there are even more setups that can be automated for Duplo finishers. For Duplo’s offline spot UV coater, it automatically adds the registration marks, separates out the
CMYK layer and the spot UV layer of a file, sending each as a separate file to the respective device. And, of course, it includes the same imposition and barcode application in an Impose template. For the Duplo die cutter, JobFlow also adds registration marks, barcodes, and performs a slight page rotation.
Digital printing company Kaindorfdruck in Kaindorf, Austria, finds this process especially easy. According to the company’s owner, Karl Scheibhofer, “Fiery Impose helps us drastically shorten processing times, especially for large orders, by using stored imposition layouts. It's also very useful to export cutting and creasing marks from the Fiery Impose system to our Duplo finishing devices to automatically prepare a job for finishing.”
Making Your Hybrid Environment More Efficient
So far, we have primarily been addressing the benefits automation can bring to a digital printing and finishing workflow. But there is more that you can do. If you have hybrid production with both offset and digital technologies, you may already be using one of the leading offset workflow solutions. Fiery DFEs are compatible with Kodak Prinergy, Agfa Apogee, Heidelberg Prinect, and Screen Equios—allowing you to use those workflow systems to send short-run jobs directly to your Fiery Driven digital printers.
Fynske Medier, headquartered in Vejle, Denmark, is taking advantage of this powerful integration capability. “The EFI Fiery server allows us to integrate the digital presses to our existing Heidelberg Prinect MIS and workflow system,” according to Brian T. Hansen, project manager at Fynske Medier. “We now have a much higher throughput of jobs than before, which we manage with the same number of staff, or even slightly fewer than before.”
Integrating with Other Shop Systems
Of course, EFI has already done the work for you of integrating Fiery workflow with EFI MarketDirect StoreFronteCommerce solution and EFI MIS/ERP solutions such as PrintSmith Vision, Pace, and Monarch; as well as with other EFI software components.
Integrating Fiery production with MarketDirect StoreFront web-to-print operations, for example, is a commonly employed—and highly effective—solution for digital print operations.
Trevecca Nazarene University Print Services, a university in-plant using both Fiery and MarketDirect StoreFront gets outstanding value from the integration. “We saved hundreds of thousands of dollars when we brought the print shop on campus with the new Fiery Driven digital press, our new EFI MarketDirect StoreFront, and our move under marketing,” said Kelly Huebscher, printing services manager for the Nashville-based university.
Bringing Third-Party Applications into the Fold
To connect other third-party solutions, or systems you developed for your shop, you may want to look at integrations based on Fiery JDF and Fiery API. Explore using a programmer or IT specialist, or provide extra training for an existing employee who has the aptitude and interest in taking their career to the next level. You could also work with an outside consultant or EFI Professional Services to get you on this final path of automating processes from job submission to output by integrating print workflow and business management systems. Believe us, it’s much easier than it sounds!
Just ask Patrick Farry of Endicia, a leading provider of shipping technologies and services for ecommerce businesses, with more than $12 billion in postage printed. Farry and his team used the EFI Fiery API to create a custom software application that builds the postage stamps and sets up custom integration between its partner’s ordering system and Endicia’s Fiery DFE, reducing the process from 11 steps to one.
Farry stated: “We went from 25 orders a day to several thousand each day during our busiest period, and we only hired one more full-time person to handle the increased business.”
More Insight in Digital Print—For Free!
Now let’s add just one bonus level: Take advantage of a free EFI IQ cloud-based application, EFI Insight, to monitor production performance of all your Fiery Driven sheetfed devices to ensure your automation is working! EFI Insight will help you take steps to maximize printer uptime, use job source information to identify opportunities to increase the use of automated workflows, compare print device performance, identify production bottlenecks, uncover areas where your staff may need additional training, and much more. Did we say it was free?
And here’s our closing advice on how to make the most of your automation journey:
Use what you have today—but think about tomorrow’s investments in a different way than you may have in the past. If you plan to acquire a new digital printer, make sure that printer/DFE investment complements or advances your automation journey, either by integrating with existing processes or providing the ability to advance to another automation level. Also ensure that any printer/DFE investment integrates with offline finishers, something to keep in mind when making finisher investments as well. And finally, if you have an existing print MIS/ERP or web-to-print system, the printer/DFE should also be able to integrate with that. In other words, make investment decisions within a holistic framework, rather than looking at each department or software/equipment purchase separately.
For more information about ways you can improve workflow automation in your printing operation, download our free ebook: Automation Building Blocks: 6 Easy Ways to Streamline Your Print Production. (https://go.efi.com/en_Fiery-Automation-ebook.html?utm_source=WTT&utm_medium=article3&utm_campaign=fiery-global-automation-ebook-1120)
John Henze is vice president of sales and marketing for EFI’s Fiery business. For more information about EFI Fiery digital print solutions, visit www.efi.com/fierydfe.