JDF - Recipe for Soup ... and a Sandwich
PDF (portable document format) may be the greatest thing since sliced bread (or at least since PostScript), but it takes more than bread to make a sandwich that will satisfy a hungry customer.
TODAY'S SHORTER PRINT runs depend on reliable, high-quality print output, delivered with minimal turnaround. The addition of JDF (job definition format) production language to PDF-based workflows increasingly is seen as a way to dramatically reduce print production time and costs while ensuring consistent, reliable output—even when last minute changes are required. In packaging applications, the benefits of JDF-enhanced or JDF-enabled workflows show up in better customer service; faster time to market; better management of collaborative workflows; and greater facility in handling labor-intensive functions like trapping, color mapping, step-and-repeat, and complex files containing large amounts of graphical and structural data.
"Traditionally there have been weak communication links between the customers—the consumer product company and its customers, the retailers—the design firm, the prepress company, and converters," says Ian Hole, director of market development, Esko-Graphics. "This results in a workflow that is error prone, hard to optimize, and hard to automate." In other words, one sandwich short of a full-fledged picnic.
Explains Gee Ranasinha, director of marketing, DALiM Software: "Production automation is reaching a point now that simply automating individual cost centers—studio, prepress, proofing, print, etc.—is no longer enough. Each department must be aware of the job flow of interconnecting departments to increase efficiencies."
Right now, Ranasinha says, many departments have to re-enter the same details when a job enters its own systems. This not only adds a lot of unnecessary work, but creates many opportunities for error at every stage of the project cycle: in the design stage, with its focus on both graphics and structure; in preproduction, where prepress, proofing, platemaking, prototyping, and diemaking occur; and in production, where printing and diecutting/stripping take place.