MIS, W2P and workflow

MIS, W2P and workflow
ProPrint rounds up a selection of software tools from some of the leading vendors across MIS, workflow and web-to-print

Agfa Apogee StoreFront

As a founding member of the CIP4 committee, Agfa is involved in all levels of development for interoperability with compliant CIP4 MIS systems.
Agfa has a number of workflow options to stitch its workflow to a variety of 'off-the-shelf' MIS systems. The newest additions to the stable of MIS products are the Apogee StoreFront products.
“We think Apogee StoreFront is ground-breaking on a number of levels,” said Harry Kontogiannis, manager for wide-format inkjet & commercial printing. “Apogee Storefront offers some specific benefits for print service providers, such as a software-as-a-service solution, ease of set-up, ease of maintenance, its top-of-the-line online editor, and its seamless integration with Apogee Prepress 8.”

Agfa says there is no need to purchase extra IT infrastructure because it can use cloud-based, high-level secured servers. It uses template-based websites, which are readily customisable. It can be purchased using monthly subscriptions and is easily expandable.
It also offers secure online payment systems for end users and is easy to track. It will cater for print buyers as well as for non-print products, according to Agfa.


DolphinWorxs PrintWorxs

Melbourne-based software firm DolphinWorxs has an online print module called PrintWorxs that specialises in handling quoting work for small printers.

PrintWorxs' cloud software, an end-to-end MIS solution, uses formula-based quoting and instantly calculates as each input is entered. It takes all the necessary variables into account and will automatically optimise the quote for the best cost. Users can tweak any of the variables in the quoting screens, all of which can be overwritten to control the costing process, according to the vendor.

Chief executive Stephanie Gaddin says PrintWorxs is unique in that users working outside on tablets or in the office are using the same system and database. There are no downloads or apps to install, and no syncing between systems and hot folders. Users don’t need a consultant to set up the system for them.

The company also offers a three-month, no-obligation, fully-functional free trial, which is up and running within 10 minutes of registration.

There are no hardware overheads or specific software configurations required. All that is needed is a reliable internet connection, and the software is fully supported on tablet browsers, according to DolphinWorxs.

There are no set-up costs, with the monthly licensing including training, free webinars and discussion forums to help users get comfortable with the program. Software upgrades are automatic. PrintWorxs is compatible with any web browser on Mac, iOS, Windows, Linux and Android, and does not require supporting software. Minimum requirements are just a fast, stable internet connection, according to DolphinWorxs.

Released in January this year, PrintWorxs has been extensively tested by businesses in a variety of industries. Gaddin says sales are picking up and that there has been significant interest from the Americas, with the company picking up a new client in Ecuador recently. The product costs $75 per user per month plus GST.

 

EFI Digital StoreFront

Digital StoreFront is a multi-purpose web-to-print platform that keeps businesses open after hours.

The solution previously allowed printers to expand online services with customisable storefronts and value-add applications such as personalised print products and one-on-one direct marketing initiatives. The latest version of Digital StoreFront, which was launched this quarter, enhances personalised marketing with its new campaign generation and management tools, according to EFI.

Users will be able to combine the reach of variable data marketing with web and email communication to create marketing campaigns. The range of possible marketing activities includes campaigns using variable data, personalised URLs, targeted emails and SMS. Users can create and deliver multi-touch, multi-layered marketing campaigns with access to real time analytics for campaign optimisation, according to EFI. 

Digital StoreFront provides scalability, in both transaction volume and number of locations, which makes the application a solution for enterprises of all sizes. EFI also offers a web-to-print solution through its Online Print Solutions software. Pricing is based on configuration.

 

Fujifilm XMF

Fujifilm launched its latest version of XMF in September at Print 13 in Chicago. It now features support for the new Adobe Mercury RIP architecture, as well as support for the new JetPress 540W digital press and improved integration with XMF ColorPath.

This release specifically focuses on the need for digital print production through support for Mercury and support for PDF/VT.

In addition to new digital print capabilities, there are many new features that address the needs of offset customers. Fujifilm claims that one of its goals with XMF is to continually improve the product based on feedback from its customers. The print market is evolving from traditional print production to a greater need for automation. Other improvements include features such as automatic creation of 3D proofs in the workflow and Enfocus PitStop Library for preflighting.

XMF utilises Adobe's full range of PDF technologies: PDF Print Engine, PDF Library and, most recently, the new Mercury RIP architecture.

The base price for a B2 workflow is $18,000, with a B1 workflow from $38,000. This will vary with different options. More than 3,500 XMF systems have now been sold worldwide, according to Fujifilm.

 

Kodak Prinergy Workflow 6

Kodak says its latest version of Prinergy can drive a full pre-press workflow from a quote.

Now available worldwide, Prinergy Workflow 6 brings new automation, accuracy and efficiency to print creation, and reduces costs in the pre-planning stages of print production. It also expands product integration across Kodak and third-party solutions, including MIS software, according to Kodak.

Prinergy workflow leverages Job Definition Format (JDF) and Job Messaging Format (JMF) to build an automated multi-vendor workflow. More than 20 MIS systems are compatible with Prinergy Workflow. Connecting MIS software with print production workflow eliminates tasks so that many steps can happen automatically, such as processing incoming jobs, imposition, RIPing and proofing, according to Kodak.

Prinergy Workflow integrates with EFI Monarch and EFI Pace MIS software as well as Tharstern MIS software. Integration with a MIS provides the ability to automate processes from MIS to platemaking; reduce human touchpoints and opportunities for error; show planned versus actual production costs; automatically track material usage and alterations; and cut production time and costs.

The new Prinergy Workflow 6 uses the basic description of the job, which can be captured via an MIS, to plan and route parts of the job to specific equipment automatically. The result is that every job is processed, printed, cut, bound and delivered with the fewest manual touch points, according to Kodak.

 

Optimus Dash

Optimus has been a global MIS technology developer since 1982. Until 2010, like many MIS providers, the common denominator with all standard software versions was that the business rules to drive the system were defined by Optimus, not the user.

At Ipex 2010, Optimus launched Dash, a product with a lean manufacturing philosophy. The Dash system means there is no longer a one-size-fits-all interface for print production. Instead, users are in charge of moulding their own business processes as appropriate for items being produced internally or externally, according to Optimus.

Dash can manage all forms of digital, offset, screen and specialist print arenas. High levels of automation and scalability can be defined to fit the company’s philosophy and style. Dash is able to strip out the unwanted steps in a production process.

Optimus says it can demonstrate before an installation where Dash can produce tangible returns on investment. This has been particularly important when managing multi-product personalised campaigns.

 

Pent Net Booklet Builder module

Australian web-to-print and workflow software developer Pent Net has just released Booklet Builder as an add-on to Online StoreFront.

The module allows clients to upload documents in various file formats such as Word and PowerPoint. Book Builder counts the number of pages and turns the document into a PDF. Clients can then choose cover type and edit the text on the cover. They can then view and choose binding types, such as coil, comb or spiral binding, and choose the binding colour. Clients can then turn the pages of the document to see how it will look on each page.

After the client orders, the printer receives the order with a print-ready PDF, including the binding and cover instructions, according to Pent Net.

Book Builder links in with Pent Net’s Online StoreFront so printers can benefit from Pent Net’s software such as online ordering, approvals, order tracking, order history, variable data, online quoting, credit card payments, unlimited storefronts and so on.

Pent Net says it can integrate with most MIS systems. It can also integrate with HP Indigo, Fuji Xerox, Konica Minolta and Lanier printers through Fiery and other RIPs for CTP and digital print.

Online StoreFront is Pent Net’s most popular module. Features include online ordering, catalogue management, shopping cart, order history, repeat orders, unlimited portals, unlimited clients, products and orders, variable data, approvals and order tracking.

Many of Pent Net’s customers use Online StoreFront for corporate customers who have multiple branches and for large corporates such as airlines, education institutions, hotels and FMCGs.

Customers often use Online StoreFront to win new business by skinning the software to look like their customers’ web sites, according to Pent Net.

 

Quote & Print QPrint Pro

The QPrint web-to-print suite delivers a web-to-print solution with front-end and back-end workflow integration. This product offers system-wide integration and a platform that will scale with any web-to-print business. It has been installed in more than 20 Australian printers and is being installed in all Worldwide Printing Solutions' franchises, according to the vendor.

QPrint Pro is integrated with Quote & Print's Print ERP solution. Modules include features focusing on enhancements to the system’s B2B-specific capabilities so printers can serve customers via dedicated online portals. New features are full job searching capabilities, including date range, job name and open jobs only, PayPal integration and back-order support, according to Quote & Print.

QPrint Administrator has an upgraded content management system to manage and style website content. It also contains a major expansion to Portal Security Groups, enabling detailed admin access permissions.

QPrint E-Designer is an online design tool for print-ready artwork on a printer’s website. It allows printers to develop print templates for users and control access rights to templates based on users or user groups. The template creation interface provides end users and system administrators with a point-and-click process to create and customise print design templates.

QPrint QuickFlight is an automated proofing system that checks inbound print-ready files against predefined job specifications.

 

SwitchBox

SwitchBox is an automated software solution that links an MIS system and web-to-print software to prepress and production. Client artwork that is delivered to the press is imposed, quality checked and print ready.

SwitchBox is not a proprietary solution; it is the 'middleware' to connect all the other software technology in a print business and is fully customisable to a business’s needs. It is a flexible package made of different software, including Enfocus Switch, PitStop Server, Enfocus ConnectAll, Callas PDF Toolbox Server, Ultimate Imposition, Elpical Claro, Axaio Made-To-Print and Dynagram ImpO2

The new database and web service modules of Enfocus Switch-11 lie at the heart of SwitchBox. Printers can automate prepress checks like PDF size, number of pages, ink coverage, bleed and number of separations.

Soltect managing director Yves Roussange says he has installed SwitchBox at three sites this year with great results.

SwitchBox starts from $33,000 plus GST, plus any additional modules needed for the workflow required.
 

Tharstern Procurement Suite

Tharstern's outsourcing or procurement suite has been designed for both print managers and the source of corporate print spend.

Managing director Tresta Keegan says she is not aware of any comparable functionality offered by other MIS suppliers in the market.

One user is the procurement division of New Zealand retail chain The Warehouse, which has used the system for all non-retail items within its branches. Lion's alcohol division is also licensed with its own Tharstern Primo solution for the print, merchandise and marketing materials of its brands, which include Steinlager, Bacardi, Heineken and Tooheys.

The suite's interface lets users describe the campaign; in the process, it identifies those suppliers that have the capacity to supply. Suppliers can then use a range of channels to respond with pricing, value-add commentary, recommendations and project updates, while the print manager can track response times, produce delivery, communication history and campaign pricing.

"The suite has been refined over the past six years," says Keegan. “Initially we had print managers who insisted on using the estimating, job costing and outwork features of our standard commercial print MIS. They happily used it as a work-around but Tharstern UK agreed this was a channel to bring more work into our end-user customer base, so in tandem with our local users and recommendations, they developed the outsourcing suite.”

The base version starts at $500 per user plus support and installation. Primo MIS adds-on include Primo Live iPad estimating; stock management tool e4print Pro; outsourcing and procurement tools; and an extensive warehouse management solution that manages products across warehouses and is linked to e4printPRO. This provides real-time data to the end user about the management of manufactured and stored items, according to Tharstern.

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