Hiflex and Agfa Implement Next-Generation Automatic JDF Workflow
Press release from the issuing company
Mortsel, Belgium — Aachen, Germany — 1 August 2005 — Agfa and Hiflex announced today that they have successfully implemented a next-generation workflow with full JDF connectivity between Agfa's prepress workflow system :ApogeeX (v2.5) and a Management Information System (Hiflex MIS). The implementation was achieved at Tanghe Printing N.V. (Komen, Belgium). Tanghe Printing had already made headlines as the first printer in Belgium using JDF-connectivity in live production, when a JDF-interface between Hiflex MIS and the Komori presses was put into place in March 2004. According to Tanghe Printing's managing director Patrick Tanghe, JDF-implementation greatly improved transparency and flexibility of the production process. The cost-savings achieved enabled Tanghe to yield a return on the investment within the first year.
“We are always looking to increase the level of automation, further increase our productivity, reduce our costs and improve our customer service. The JDF link between :ApogeeX and Hiflex MIS totally streamlines our prepress workflow, just as JDF did in the press room,” said Tanghe.
Seamless communication between Hiflex MIS and :ApogeeX
When a new order is entered in the Hiflex order book, its details are immediately sent to :ApogeeX via JDF. The Hiflex system contains all administrative (order number, order description, customer name and address, contact person, etc.) and technical data (job parts such as cover/content, production plan, number of pages, inks, etc.). The imposition is generated in Preps (based on the production plan from Hiflex) and imported into the Agfa system. The final prepress parameters (such as CtP resolution, screen ruling, trapping details, etc.) are automatically set by the :ApogeeX production plan. Any order amendments, such as the number of pages, signatures, etc. are first updated in the Hiflex production estimate. This ensures that project pricing, electronic job ticket and production schedules are all up to date. Hiflex then forwards the changes to :ApogeeX via JDF, where the corresponding job is automatically updated.
“The JDF-link between :ApogeeX and Hiflex ensures that job modifications are immediately transmitted to prepress. It also improves the efficiency of customer services, as even last-minute modifications are incorporated into the production process,” said Tanghe. “And I can see far more potential in our JDF connectivity: it is the key to further process optimisation in prepress. Agfa and Hiflex are working closely together so that we can exploit more capabilities in future versions of the JDF specifications. We predict that we will be able to dispense with a complete process in prepress.”
JDF 1.2 brings more efficient prepress
Tanghe alludes to the potential in the new JDF 1.2 specification, in which StrippingParams were added. StrippingParams provide a high-level description of the imposition scheme (as a production plan) and include the geometry of the printing sheets.
The JDF implementation at Tanghe is already based on JDF 1.2. The Hiflex system has been able to generate and transfer JDF StrippingParams to prepress systems. Version 2.5 of :ApogeeX comes with an integrated Preps-engine for imposition that accepts native JDF StrippingParams. This enables automated processing of the StrippingParams sent by the Hiflex MIS. :ApogeeX's imposition engine automatically adds colour bars, control strips, trim marks, fold marks, registration marks, signature collation marks, signature name and ID. The compensation for bottling and creep is also carried out.
The Hiflex MIS calculates the most efficient production plan, which in turn dictates the imposition scheme. The resulting JDF StrippingParams are sent to Agfa's workflow system when the initial prepress job is created. These are then used to automatically generate the imposition scheme – no manual intervention is required. JDF-connectivity between the prepress workflow system and Hiflex MIS has the potential to revolutionise and simplify the whole prepress process. The prepress operator can dispense with many tedious, time-consuming and error-prone steps, such as re-keying data or creating the imposition scheme in the prepress workflow system. At Tanghe Printing this innovation will be implemented in the near future.
“This landmark implementation of a fully automatic imposition generation at Tanghe Printing will pioneer the way for entirely new working methods in the printing industry,” said Stefan Reichhart, CEO of Hiflex.
Innovative process-automation has significant potential
The innovative implementation of connectivity between prepress and MIS that Hiflex and Afga are now planning co-operatively is the result of joint projects over the last few years. The first result of a joint project was the demonstration of successful connectivity at GraphExpo 2003: Hiflex was able to automatically create jobs in the Agfa system. At Drupa 2004 Agfa and Hiflex demonstrated the exchange of JDF StrippingParams. In order to constantly improve JDF connectivity, a Hiflex MIS is installed in Agfa's R&D and Graphic Systems Competence Centre at its worldwide headquarters in Mortsel (Belgium), as well as in its North American Technology and Learning Center in Ridgefield Park, NJ (USA). In return, the Agfa system is installed at Hiflex R&D and the Hiflex CIM Center.
“The opportunities and potential of a networked production environment are tremendous. The point is not only to exchange data between the two systems, but to automate processes and ultimately eliminate entire manual processes. The installation at Tanghe Printing is definitely a milestone on a journey that began a long time ago,” said Koen van de Poel, Technology Staff Manager at Agfa Gevaert N.V. and Chairman of the CIP4 “Origination & Prepress” workgroup.
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