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FLEXO Magazine : June 2013
parts through PRINERGY Rules-Based Automation Software, also known as RBA. Most prepress systems provide several ways to automate workflows. Concepts like workflow plans and smart hot fold- ers allow for some level of automation. However, one of the great strengths of RBA is its ability to create workflows that can respond to events in the system as they occur. We call this “intelligent” automation, since the order in which the steps are performed is determined on the fly and can differ from job to job. The lack of this ability is a serious shortcoming in other automation solutions. Through a series of simple rules, each company ’s unique processes, systems and equipment can be automated to ensure jobs flow seamlessly through production with minimal intervention. Today, such workflow systems are instrumental in removing layout creation time, reducing cycle time, elimi- nating human errors and maximizing resources. In addition to automation, a true workflow system also re- quires integration—to help your various systems ‘talk’ to each other. Again, as just one example, all Kodak Workflow Solu- tions, including PRINERGY Workflow, PANDORA Step-and-Re- peat Software, COLORFLOW Software, SPOTLESS Software, and more, are designed to be seamlessly integrated with one another. What’s more, RBA can act as an integration layer be- tween multiple software and hardware systems—from Kodak and third-party vendors. Based on open standards, XML, JDF/ JMF and using the latest Adobe technology, automated pack- aging workflow systems deliver outstanding performance and reliability with a range of modular options to suit multiple business requirements: • Process jobs upon receipt of JDF or XML files from MIS/ ERP systems • Eliminate time-consuming, low-value tasks from the workflow, allowing operators to focus on higher-value, billable tasks • Maximizes media usage and reduce waste • Meet the needs of packaging printers by incorporating key packaging features into the automation When you start to tackle the first few steps of workflow automation it may seem overwhelming, but it really is just about the project approval process and creative control of the artwork used in each job. In essence, it’s the full solution from creation to delivery that protects all of the assets in the process while collaborating with your customers in real time before running the job through the automated production pro- cess. By design, automated packaging workflow is a process to ensure that the right file is submitted in the right format and prepared the right way, then sent directly to your workflow for automatic, intelligent job processing. TIGHT CONTROL All packaging jobs start with the creative process, and each package is touched by many people with different skill sets and concerns, often in different geographies. Establish- ing a real-time collaborative relationship with your customers supports that process and eliminates unnecessary, unproduc- tive steps that get in the way of the job and your profitability. When you begin a new project, start by engaging your cus- tomers using a tool llike Kodak INSITE Creative Workflow. You and your customers can share, proof and approve files over the Internet, track project tasks and status, all while keeping tight control over content creation. Once the creative approval process is completed to satisfaction, the artwork flows into the workflow via RBA. Automated packaging workflow can then integrate with the customer’s MIS system to communicate scheduling updates, and details around the artwork colors, size, and other job in- formation. Automated preflighting of the file can begin based on the customer ’s data, and email notifications can automati- cally be sent to customers to request job approval. The next step in automation is color management—and with Prinergy as our example, that would be Kodak COL- ORFLOW Software. COLORFLOW Software is an intelligent color solution for integrating the many elements and devices in a typical print production environment, and managing the complex color relationships between them. This helps ensure that all color control elements—curves, International Color Consortium (ICC) profiles and spot color recipes—are used together correctly. With the artwork approved and color requirements ad- dressed for print production, RBA takes over, automatically creating the layout for the job either from the MIS system or using a job ticket from the packaging layout automation. Here the layout and all marks needed for the job are created and sent into the workflow system for final output. This is a power- ful option that automates the time-consuming task of press sheet layout, eliminating manual steps and reducing errors. It performs packaging-specific layouts by leveraging RBA and is especially valuable when dealing with complex layouts, such as multiple jobs combined in a single layout. COMPETITIVE EDGE Increasing costs and competition are an ongoing concern for converters and trade shops alike, but there has never been a more opportune time for packaging printers to deliver exceptional quality while controlling spiraling material costs. Packaging is a growth industry, with technological develop- ments making flexography a cost-effective printing and con- verting platform well suited for today ’s packaging market. Offering shorter runs with higher quality, new features and designs, and combining them with other services through web-based solutions are examples of how packaging printers can combat increasing competition. Automating these processes will put you ahead of the com- petition, reduce errors and spiraling labor costs and protect your margins while offering new packaging opportunities. n About the Author: Michael Bialko is a product specialist in the United Workflow team at Kodak. He has 20+ years experi- ence in the prepress and packaging industry and is engaged in development of industry leading workflow solutions. This article was adapted from his FTA Forum 2013 presentation, “Workflow Your Way.” Bialko spoke in a general session en- titled, ”Workflow Automation...Right Here, Right Now!” 38 FLEXO June 2013 www.flexography.org