A Vision for Managing and Moving Digital Assets
The story of Networked Graphic Production, an industry initiative to improve digital asset management and workflow.
As this column has suggested numerous times in the past three years, the packaging industry often models the commercial printing industry in technology adoption—if not in development. We've been predictably just behind the commercial world at employing PostScript, CTP, color management, and PDF. If the trend follows, we could be glimpsing our own future again by looking at the work being done by the Networked Graphic Production™ Partners. This group, just 2 years old, is an industry trade initiative aggressively aimed at the adoption of the JDF file format. Its story is an interesting one, and the outcome of Partner efforts should bode well for label and packaging printers of every ilk and size.
Back in October 2001, at PRINT '01, prepress equipment supplier Creo launched what it called the Networked Graphic Production (NGP) Initiative. As Roger Graham, NGP Marketing Manager describes it, the company basically made a formal statement to the industry that it was driving towards "solutions that are integrated across the [graphics] production chain; and that will deliver the benefits of automation and electronic collaboration with print customers."
That's quite a mouthful, but what Creo did to back it up was equally ambitious. For the next 12 months, the NGP team essentially de-constructed the print production process, identifying each transaction and assessing the need at major junctures for automation and integration. The company examined not just the key systems within its obvious prepress domain, but also looked outward to creation, press, post-press, and to the administrative and business management systems that overlay it all.
"We found that our industry is populated with 'silo' systems that each do their job very well, but don't communicate with each other. That lack of communication, from system-to-system and vendor-to-vendor prevents us from implementing technology that could provide better managerial visibility and control over manufacturing as a whole," says Graham. He admits the NGP initiative was an internal gut check for a company that offered hardware and software solutions that couldn't always "talk" with one another.