Four areas in particular have been driving business in the print media industry in recent times - management information systems (MIS), web-to-print solutions, and digital and packaging printing. These developments have prompted Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) to extend the functions of its Prinect print shop workflow in these areas in particular. The company will be presenting these Prinect innovations and further developments at drupa 2012, which will be taking place in Düsseldorf from May 3 to16. The solutions focus above all on boosting productivity and flexibility, and on enhanced integration of all print shop processes. The Prinect solutions on show at drupa are therefore entirely in keeping with the HEI Integration, HEI Productivity, HEI Flexibility, and HEI End trends.
In future, Prinect will be the only workflow solution in the industry to offer a fully integrated MIS. This system is based on the MIS technology developed by software manufacturer CERM, which Heidelberg acquired at the start of the year. The solution is currently being introduced worldwide under the name Prinect Business Manager. It has a broad application spectrum and a modular design, which makes it ideal for various sizes of print shops.
Full workflow integration of management processes with Prinect Business Manager
The recently introduced integration of Prinect Business Manager into the Prinect production workflow based on JDF/JMF is a market-leading technological development that ensures users a high level of process automation, far greater transparency, and simplified data handling. This helps print shops significantly improve their competitive edge in a tough market environment.
In the next development stages, which are already under way, Prinect Business Manager from Heidelberg will provide a dedicated solution that accesses the same database as the production workflow. As a result, job planning and production data will be available in the same system as, for example, job processing and materials management data. This will give rise to a print shop workflow with an unprecedented level of integration that covers all areas of a print media company and thus offers the highest level of process automation available in the print media industry to date.
"Thanks to the integration of MIS and the production workflow, Prinect will deliver even greater transparency and automation in future. This means, for example, that changes made to jobs at short notice will be implemented automatically in Prinect in terms of both machine selection and materials management," explains Christopher Berti, Head of Prinect and CtP at Heidelberg. "We are driving forward the merger of two system environments that have thus far remained separate in many areas despite JDF integration."
Support will still be provided for the Prinect Prinance MIS solution previously offered by Heidelberg and connection of third-party MIS to Prinect and partner programs will continue.
Web-to-print business models still offer excellent potential for the industry
The market potential of web-to-print (W2P) solutions continues to grow - both for print shops and for industry suppliers. Prinect Web-to-Print Manager, which was developed in collaboration with US company Pageflex, offers Heidelberg customers the opportunity to move into this market segment with a highly automated solution.
Depending on their business model, Prinect Web-to-Print Manager enables users to operate one or more online shops - including a combination of shops that are accessible and not accessible to the public - with typical functions such as order processing complete with approval process, shopping cart, user administration, dispatch, and payment. The customer portal (frontend) enables variable data processing and online document editing. Adobe InDesign or PDF files can also be used as templates. Interfaces to payment and dispatch systems are available, too, along with analysis tools from third-party suppliers.
Prinect Web-to-Print Manager is based on a standard software program with intuitive operation that requires no programming know-how. The frontend can be tailored to customer requirements.
Numerous print shops are on the lookout for a W2P solution, primarily for their B2B activities. Prinect Web-to-Print Manager is perfect for this. It also supports business models for B2C (business-to-consumer) applications and franchise networks.
"In launching Prinect Web-to-Print Manager, Heidelberg is integrating the entire process - from job acceptance via the online shop and template generation via web-to-print all the way through to integrated, highly automated print production. By the time drupa arrives, Heidelberg is planning to have completed the market launch worldwide," says Berti.
The Partner Program from Heidelberg for connecting W2P solutions from software suppliers RedTie, EFI Digital Storefront, BrandMaker, Neo7even, and MS-Visucom will remain in place.
Full workflow integration is vital to improving efficiency in digital printing
Prinect Digital Print Manager, which is used to connect digital presses of various manufacturers, is being expanded and enhanced with new functions in cooperation with Ricoh. In future, a single workflow for digital and offset printing will enable extremely flexible print production by making it possible to automate the processes of creating and costing a job, selecting the most suitable production technology or hybrid production, and performing inline finishing in an imposition layout. For instance, color management will be optimized in the workflow so that a particular color in the digital print will match the corresponding color in offset as closely as possible. What's more, it will still be possible to connect digital presses from HP, Canon, Xerox, and Kodak via Prinect Digital Print Manager.
Integration solutions for packaging printing
Due to the highly industrialized nature of folding carton and label production, the complete integration of all print shop operations is even more important for these applications than for advertising printing. Here, too, Prinect offers comprehensive functions for cost-effective, industrialized production and sustainable data management - in the case of repeat jobs, for example. First and foremost, Prinect focuses on optimizing makeready times for presses and for die cutters and gluers in postpress with the aim of cutting production costs. Material savings, reliability in production, and optimum repeatability are further factors that play a key role in the further development of the workflow for the packaging sector. Prinect Package Designer - the highly productive CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing) software that integrates the structural design in Prinect - will provide graphic designers with contours, 3D images, and dimensions via a special Adobe Illustrator plug-in. This will enable them to use Adobe Illustrator to create the graphic design directly using the contour data and to run the 3D check straight away. Sheet assembly functions are also being constantly expanded to meet customer demands in this area. Furthermore, production managers particularly appreciate the clearly structured and precise production information that is used to approve and reliably execute the planning, costing, and workflow optimization processes.