Evolution makes pre-press important: Ipex Preview - I

There was a time when printers toured the pre-media exhibitors at trade shows more to get a glimpse of the future than to make a purchase. This was because, of all the print sectors, pre-media was the area making the biggest leaps in innovation.

18 Mar 2014 | By PrintWeek India

Pre-media will be a key component of Ipex 2014

The past decade has after all brought massive changes in the way print jobs are handled before they hit the press, with everything from web-to-print and online proofing to CTP machines hitting faster speeds and better quality than anyone once thought possible. But though these have been significant industry-changing developments, they were not always trusted or bought into.

At Ipex 2014, however, that will change. Printers will be heading to the pre-press vendors not because they want to take a sneak peek at the future, but because what they are offering is now business-critical. In fact those not making the purchase will now be the ones taking a risk, rather than the other way round.

Some manufacturers believe that software is becoming a key major focus, because printers are now looking to work collaboratively with creative agencies and print buyers to unlock the market potential. On display will be a full range of solutions including workflow, marketing automation, web-to-print and publishing.

After years of revolution, it seems then that many now believe this is the year pre-media will showcase how it is evolving into a staple, stable and incredibly effective sector of print. Most of the pre-press vendors’ workflow, colour proofing and CTP systems and solutions are now mature, with very comprehensive features and toolsets. Most of the upgrades over the last year and those expected over the coming Ipex year, are therefore expected to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

Visitors can expect that evolution to manifest in incremental improvements to areas such as automation, with better integration with management information systems. With JDF-based, seems to have hit a wall created by its own complexity, we may see vendors in this area include integration to digital printing devices within their workflow, and the ability to repurpose output for these many devices, as well as other ‘screen-based’ media such as smart phones and tablets.

It seems, then, that not only has the pre-press technology matured, so too has print’s place in the marketing mix. Whereas before print providers were taking pot shots at controlling marketing budgets with themselves as the hub of outsourced operations, now there are many companies holding those positions and using increasingly sophisticated software to provide ever more complex services.

At Ipex, visitors can expect the best of those solutions and integration, which are at the heart of everyone’s agenda. Granted, there may not be the fireworks in terms of leaps of innovation seen in previous years. But what is on offer this year is likely, more than ever, to be crucial to the profitability of the print providers of the future.

The Highlights

Accura    N1 D091
New for Ipex 2014 will be Accura’s eDocBuilder, a variable data/web-to-print engine, and a new visual interactive Production Scheduling module for its MIS. Accura will be hoping to demonstrate how the estimating, production, proofing, dispatch, invoicing, stock control, job costing and purchasing modules of its established MIS are well suited to SME printers.

EFI   N2 D175
EFI’s pre-press focus at Ipex concentrates on the company’s productivity software. Key pre-press products being demonstrated include PrintSmith Vision, Pace, Monarch, Radius and Metrix, plus Fiery ProServer, Digital StoreFront and SmartSign Analytics. The vendor will be demonstrating its MIS’s financial, CRM, sales management, shop floor data collection, purchasing and inventory management, and business analysis and reporting capabilities. As at Fespa last year, a real highlight of the stand will be SmartSign Analytics and its ability to detect people within viewing range of a sign, determining who is actually viewing the display and for how long.




Fujifilm    S4 E330
Fujifilm will be showing the latest versions of its XMF Remote online job submission and approval system, and XMF workflow. XMF Remote 9.5, launched at the end of last year, is now based on HTML5, a change made in response to potential security issues with the Java platform. The new software can also now upload multiple jobs concurrently, review high-pagination publications using a fast scrolling mode, and sample colours from multiple areas of a job all at once. XMF Workflow v5.5 meanwhile is being described as the most significant upgrade to the workflow for years, and features new Mercury RIP technology and a raft of variable data and productivity enhancements.

Hybrid Software    S3 H250
Hybrid Software will use Ipex 2014 for the worldwide launch of a host of products under the umbrella of its new Cloudflow suite. Positioning itself as “the alternative” software vendor, Hybrid will be introducing Cloudflow Workspace, supported on Windows and Mac OSX, and interacting with MIS/ERP and custom- designed web pages. The new Packzflow being introduced meanwhile provides automation of pre-press functions based on native PDF files, with backend processing for the Packz engine, with Packz editing software offering 64-bit multiprocessing as well as multi-threading. Also being showcased will be the new Production Data Management software specifically aimed at labels and packaging, a new RIP module and a new Printplanner module that enables operators to use a web-based interface to position and annotate artwork on a sheet.

Konica Minolta    N1 C130
Reflecting Konica Minolta’s move into this area, the vendor will be, it says, demonstrating a whole range of pre-press products on-stand. The main focus will be Konica’s workflow system PrintGroove, which features a range of modules for web-to-print, job submission and pre-flighting, including JT Suite and JT Web. The vendor will be showing its software’s third-party integration, including partnerships with Vpress and DirectSmile, and demonstrating how its workflow solutions can be tailored to suit both commercial and corporate in-plant users. More details of what the firm will be showing will be released nearer the show.

Optimus    N1 C085
Optimus will be showcasing its Dash MIS and launching Job Ganging. This new software package’s automatic estimating and job bag creation modules, along with its integrated approach to stock control, purchasing, e-commerce and accounts can, says Optimus, help generate even greater efficiencies and savings.

Screen Europe    N4 C330
The latest version of Screen’s Equios universal production workflow will be in action at Ipex, showing how users can maximise press up-time and productivity. Equios will drive any of Screen’s inkjet presses as well as third-party digital machines, which means that operators only need to learn one set of tools and one user interface for multiple output devices, says the vendor.

Shuttleworth     S3 E292
Shuttleworth will be showcasing the latest developments to its MIS at Ipex. These include a fully integrated CRM, which now consists of a smartphone app that can instantly update vital information. The app is designed to give instant access to essential information including company, contact and enquiry details whilst working away from the office. Also highlighted will be the new real-time Dashboard which displays key performance indicator data at the click of a button. Also on display will be the newly launched job tracking functionality ‘Milestones’, which automatically updates jobs, so the status of any job can be viewed as it progresses through the business. Shuttleworth will also launch a new Mobile Stock app, enabling users to update stock transactions using a mobile device with barcode scanning if required. The app has been designed, not only to improve stock accuracy, but to make it quick and easy for users to record stock transactions.
Tharstern    N1 B135
Tharstern at Ipex will be aiming to demonstrate how its MIS solutions can be  specifically tailored to support the exacting needs and requirements of commercial printing and the graphic arts industry.

ThermoFlexX    S1 E090
Joining forces with Xeikon to share a stand (see next page), ThermoFlexX will also be pairing up with Hybrid Software, following a recent global agreement between the two companies. The company will be demo-ing its ThermoFlexX 30 imager with Hybrid Software’s new Cloudflow, a ‘workspace’ concept for the web-enabled production environment. The ThermoFlexX 30 has a maximum plate size of 635x500mm and is aimed at the label and folding carton sectors. The imager comes as standard with resolutions of 2,400dpi and 2,540dpi and there is the option to have 4,000dpi, 4,800dpi or 5,080dpi. There are six imagers within the ThermoFlexX series, ranging from the 508x420mm model designed for tags and label applications, to the recently launched 1,270x2,032mm ThermoFlexX 80 for the corrugated packaging and folding carton sectors.

W3P    N2 C175
W3P is web-to-print software designed to remove the need to manually re-build a graphic design file into a web-to-print template. The W3P cloud software builds the web-to-print template automatically, direct from the native InDesign file, saving time on template build. W3shop includes the TemplateCloud library of templates and Fotolia connection to sell printing online to clients without a print-ready file.

Xeikon    S1 E090
On the pre-press side of things, Xeikon will at Ipex be showcasing its platemakers for newspaper offset printing and its basysPrint CTP solutions for commercial printing. The company will be hoping to demonstrate how these systems combine the latest exposure techniques with cost-efficient UV plate technology, high imaging quality and flexibility. For the flexographic market, Xeikon also offers digital platemaking systems brand ThermoFlexX.


Seminar programme: pre-media - masterclass

Theatre 1 – Better Business
24 March Theme – Planning for change
12.00 Case study: The 123 of cross-media
14.00 Practical steps to integrate print in a mobile world

27 March Theme – W2P: grow an online business
11.00 W2P: How to start out
12.00 Engaging customers & how to sell print online
13.00 Panel discussion: How can printers succeed in an online world?
14.00 W2P: ABC of making money

Theatre 2 – Better Margins
25 March Theme – Better workflow
11.30 Workflows that work – the key steps for smaller printers
12.30 Reducing cost with a colour managed workflow
14.30 Where printers go wrong with colour management
15.30 Case study: Integrating your MIS to save money

The World Print Summit Programme
25 March
12.00-12.45 Panel discussion: Can print co-exist with digital Communications in the future?

27 March
11.00-11.45 Keynote address & Q&A: Harnessing big data to understand your customers’ behaviour
15.00–15.45 Panel discussion: Colour confidence – an audience with the innovators