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Webtrack provides solution for wide-format production workflow

Press release from the issuing company

Dec 8 -- Although wide- and superwide-format output has become an established process for sign-makers, digital bureaux, photolabs and screen-printers, until now there hasn't been a dedicated, complementary software package which tracks jobs and manages production. Now available from Uniform, Webtrack is designed to provide a complete day-to-day intranet based management solution for Windows and Macintosh platforms. Webtrack was originally the brainchild of B&P Lightbrigade Group and optimised for the trade bureau's own use when the company realised that time and costs could be saved by using a dedicated management package to keep abreast of sales, job progressing and management of day-to-day production. Despite the availability of software for print houses, there was nothing available which could easily be tailored for wide-format digital facilities, and the only solution was for B&P to produce its own. Such was the success of its management software in-house, B&P's trade customers started to show an interest and, as a result, Webtrack evolved as a commercial product. Designed to be logical and simple to use, the package enables a user's entire production environment to be viewed from any computer on a network, and runs on both PC and Macintosh platforms. Webtrack is based on a stand-alone server running Microsoft Windows Server 2003, using a static IP address allocated by the client. It has a web-based interface and is compatible with alternative browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox and Safari, as well as Internet Explorer. Incorporating a mirrored RAID, all data is secure and can be retained either on the client's site or backed-up onto Uniform's own servers. A modular package, Webtrack features sales, production and accounting elements, all of which run seamlessly together to give up-to-the-minute information for anyone wanting to check the progress of a job from start to finish. Users can be given password protected access thus only providing information which is specific to a particular department or individual, and jobs are color coded to show status at a glance. The sales module features separate log-ins for each account handler, and a main screen which shows real-time job progress, plus full current and history status reports. Also provided are monthly summaries for totals of estimates, net invoices and re-printing. Adding jobs is simple and intuitive, with features including the ability to create and use templates which contain typical printer selections and settings, a facility to redo a job with a flag showing the relevant information, and the creation of invoices. This module also includes a view report option, showing printer settings, despatch information, pre-press, invoice and redo totals, thus tracking individual applications from start to finish. Webtrack's production module provides a comprehensive overview of every relevant department with links to pre-press, the print-room, finishing and despatch. This enables production managers to schedule jobs according to the availability of operator and printer, and to prioritise urgent orders. As every order has its own ticket, this acts as the key to all information, and can be accessed by job icon in any department via the client's name link. This job ticket contains additional details, such as RIP information, along with a brief description and a link to view the entire specification. The final production feature is the data maintenance screen which enables administrators to control all central information held on Webtrack. This also contains full details of printers, print modes, account handlers and operators. Once a job is complete and invoiced, Webtrack automatically displays details on the accounts' screen. This enables the accountant to cross-check the final figure, invoice address and customer reference number, prior to printing the invoice and creating a .csv file which can be batched into Sage. Webtrack's ability to handle sales, scheduling, pre-press, print, finishing and despatch removes the everyday problems associated with progressing jobs across departments, saving times and eliminating any margin for error. Future elements will include a correspondence module, to allow quotes and due-in dates to be incorporated into the sales menu, plus an estimator and job calculator feature to enable square m prices for specific materials on selected printers. Additionally, customised options can be incorporated to suit individual client requirements. Unlike many management programs, Webtrack has been tested thoroughly by one of the largest and busiest wide-format trade print providers in the UK. David Burton, managing director of B&P Lightbrigade Group comments: "Three years ago we took a long, hard look at how we ran our print factory. Our sales and account handlers were spending 80 percent of their time chasing job bags around the building. Every time we added a new printer, and the associated staff required to run it, the problems were compounded and we knew we needed a way to streamline our operation and manage our day-to-day production." The resulting solution for Burton was for B&P Lightbrigade to produce a bespoke package which was developed specifically to cater for the idiosyncrasies which are specific to wide-format digital production. Webtrack's ability for users to see all production jobs and their progressing, in real-time, means that users can manage every order from the desk-top and this formula is essential in today's busy print environments.

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