The more efficient the workflow, the more time we have to focus on customer service.
This efficiency is being accomplished by the evolution of digital workflow systems. In order to implement a fully digital workflow we must embrace key technologies such as color management, PDF files, electronic paper and soft proofing.
1. Digital Workflow Systems Workflow is the operational aspect of a work procedure: how tasks are structured, who performs them, what their relative order is, how they are synchronized, how information flows to support the tasks and how tasks are being tracked. In keeping up with the growing technological advances and increasing digitization of our world, the printing and publishing industries are integrating digital systems to manage this workflow. Digital workflow provides independent consultancy, mentoring and assistance in the management of change within print production. Digital systems also help reduce the variations of the printing process and offer increased consistency of the printed product. The move to a digital workflow involves more than just adding systems – it’s a change in production. The printing process becomes a manufacturing process. Once complete, a number of benefits are clear. Printers can have faster turnaround times, more color, better quality and potential cost reductions. The digital workflow system actually allows printers to become a business partner with the customers, allowing them to work both smarter and more efficiently.
2. Color Management As a printing professional, we have the difficult task of assuring that the colors we see on-screen will match the ones in our final printed materials. Mistakes in color can have far-reaching consequences, from damaging a client’s corporate image, to causing customers to return products because they were not accurately represented in a promotional image. One component of a fully digital workflow is closed- loop color, which allows printing production departments to continuously manage color throughout the printing process. The results include virtually perfect color, thereby reducing proofing cycles and lowering expenses.
3. PDF Creation Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format) has become the standard in document sharing, electronic forms and web publishing. Reviewing and printing documents using Adobe’s free PDF viewer, Acrobat Reader, is the only exposure most people have with Acrobat. However, for the print service professional PDF files have cut production time significantly, and reduced many of the common digital printing headaches and pitfalls that come from customer’s files. In viewing a PDF file from a customer, we are able to see the exact font, color and formation of the desired product. PDF files establish an open, user-friendly workflow tool that enables consistent and concise communication.
4. Electronic Paper Electronic paper is the most current cutting edge technology in the printing and publishing industry. Although it resembles ordinary paper, electronic paper is virtually a computer screen, and can be reused millions of times. But unlike a clunky PC monitor, electronic paper is actually paper thin.
5. Soft Proofing A proof is a contract of which printers and customers are agreeing that an acceptable reproduction can be made with the designated paper and ink. It’s also a communications and quality- control tool used to set printers’ and customers’ expectations – it predicts the results of a press run and provides a basis for evaluating a press operator’s efforts. Until now, final proofs were done with hard copies, soon soft proofing will likely be the last component to complete a fully digital workflow.