What is understood by "digital workflow" and what tools can Muller Martini currently provide to bookbinderies and print finishing businesses in order to implement networked processes?
When an order arrives at a bookbindery, it has already gone through a long and complex working process. At this point in time, the products to be processed already have a very high added value. It is the bookbinder's job to make sure he does everything correctly because demands and cost pressures continue to increase. Therefore, every processing step must be carried out efficiently, error-free and on time.
How is it possible to optimize workflow?
It makes sense, with the aid of networking, to generate data direct from the working processes in prepress and printing operations, as well as business processes, and then use it for finishing purposes. While prepress and press operations have already been extensively networked, up to now there has been a need for the postpress sector to do some catching up. But, some rapid developments have also been taking place here in the meantime.
It is a question of optimizing processes in such a way as to allow bookbinderies to produce better, faster, more accurately and in the final analysis more cheaply. As a co-founder of the CIP4 organization, Muller Martini has been at the forefront of developments right from the start. An employee of the company heads up the "Finishing" working party. The two standards developed here, JDF (Job Definition Format) and JMF (Job Messaging Format) are the key technologies for efficient data exchange in graphic arts operations.
All newly developed Muller Martini machines are JDF-compatible. A standard interface, MM Port, allows direct interactive communications between the customers' management information system (MIS) and print finishing. The key data exchanged includes such important things as order status, machine status, production speed and current gross and net quantities, for example.
Workflow solutions from Muller Martini in practical use
The integration of finishing into the workflow of the graphics industry has already been implemented in a number of operations. So exactly how does workflow work with JDF and JMF? JDF is basically comparable with the job file we all know of old. In electronic form, the format includes all the data relevant for the smooth production of a job. This has the advantage that the complete order cycle, from the first creative idea to the finished end product, is documented. Due to the fact that the JDF-format offers complete compatibility, data can be exchanged between all the systems involved that have an appropriate interface.
At the end of 2004, there were six installations where CIP4-standard saddle stitchers from Muller Martini were integrated (in the USA, England, Austria and Switzerland). Further implementations of Muller Martini saddle stitchers into digital workflow are planned in Australia, France and Japan.
Also, these days all new perfect binding systems are brought onto the market with a JDF-interface. Thus, the new Bolero perfect binder and Frontero face-cut trimmer were already JDF-compatible when they were exhibited at drupa 2004. Merit S and Zenith S three-knife trimmers are also now sold with a new generation control system and therefore have JDF-interfaces.
Individual components can be networked with one another. Therefore, in JDF terms, a bookbinding line represents a single device. The line can be linked with the customer's MIS (management information system) via open JDF and JMF standard interfaces and Ethernet connections. Working in cooperation with the CIP4-organization, Muller Martini tests the most varied of MIS programs for interoperability.
Muller Martini has created the prerequisites that are vital for process optimization and when customers make new purchases the company always advises them that new machines can be fully integrated into JDF/JMF-workflow. It is important to mention here that it is not just big industrial operations that can benefit from the JDF/JMF-standard. Smaller companies can also benefit from this technology by individually optimizing and digitizing their workflow.
JDF-workflow brings countless advantages
The advantages of JDF-workflow are obvious:
- With JDF/JMF, the customer is not dependent on a single manufacturer, but can select components individually for the various process steps in the workflow.
- Data needs to be captured only once and therefore remains consistent throughout the entire production process. This eliminates potential sources of error, such as double inputs or transfer errors, as well as making last minute changes easier.
- Each electronic job ticket contains a complete set of planning and production data. This allows jobs to be scheduled and coordinated more efficiently, because the status of the entire production line is controlled using JMF. Production planning and project tracking are also considerably easier.
- Setup times are significantly shortened because production parameters do not have to be entered again.
- Since production data is sent back to the MIS via JDF/JMF, the actual production costs can be easily and accurately recorded for costing and billing purposes.
- JDF/JMF makes the correct data available at all times, enabling the accurate analysis of statistics.