Duncan Newton, Commercial Print Product Marketing Consultant, Ricoh USA
I once worked with a man who said he wasn’t going to anymore Lessons Learned meetings until someone learned a lesson. He was being facetious, but there was an element of truth to what he said.
Too often we overlook solutions that are developed in another discipline because we don’t believe they have any application to our specific business.
Digital book production is just such a case. When books started to be produced digitally there were no established workflows that met the needs of the printers. Prinergy, Apogee, Prinect, and even Rampage, all were built around traditional offset production systems. Their focus was on scheduling, making film, burning plates, make-ready, creating imposition schemes, signature folding, binding, trimming, etc. And, for the last 10+ years they were driven by PostScript or PDF file structures. To adapt/adopt, many digital printers resorted to homegrown systems that were built in pieces, difficult to support and still not quite what they needed.
The chief difference between offset and digital is that digital printers produce pages in sequential order. In other words, when the last signature or stacked book block is delivered from the cutter/stacker it’s ready for binding without any further operations required. The first book is ready for binding in just the time it takes to print it.
During the reign of the toner-based continuous feed presses, the easiest way to make books was to bypass the process of signature folding. Rolls of paper went in, the books were printed 2- or 3-up, slit into ribbons, cut and stacked into offset book blocks. These book blocks were put directly into a binder and then into a trimmer. Early digital book printers invented a market for extremely short-run book production where none had existed before. Fleets of toner printers have expanded from just a few machines in one shop to dozens stationed all over the world. Their internal workflow systems were 100 percent home grown and most remain essentially the same to this day.
The Tools necessary for 21st-century communications
“The ADF architecture is the foundation for numerous applications of personalized variable data printing.”
Meanwhile, the transactional printers were doing something completely different…or so it seems from the outside looking in. In 1984 IBM invented the Intelligent Printer Data Stream™ (IPDS™) architecture that still drives almost every phone bill, credit card statement, insurance explanation of benefit (EOB) and bank statement in the world. In 1996 the Gartner Group developed the concept of an automated document factory (ADF) which was built around the core capabilities of IPDS. The original ADF concept was broken down into four modules with the first three focused on the data being received into the system and managing it all the way through from production to delivery. The fourth module was a bidirectional communication control that sat on top of the other three modules and addressed the needs of management for various reports about the operation of the factory:
- Input—all the data and the instructions that are needed to transform the data into documents processed in the ADF.
- Transformation and integrated output – the data and instructions are joined, and the documents are produced in the appropriate media.
- Delivery preparation—documents are prepared for delivery to the recipient.
- Control and reporting—manages production aspects of the ADF.
The structure was later expanded to include:
- Document design and content integration—designers and design tools were integrated with operations management and ariable data printing tools.
- Response management—consisting of integrated response analytics.
The elegance of the ADF architecture wasn’t in the modules but rather in the interfaces that connected them.
Print and mail facilities had to be able to efficiently produce huge volumes of personalized communications. The ADF model gave technology providers and print service providers the framework for developing and implementing the architectures and tools necessary for 21st-century communications.
The ADF architecture is the foundation for numerous applications of personalized variable data printing. Printing companies with an ADF in place are able to smoothly compile, print, mail/ship and analyze a wide range of marketing and transactional communications including CRMbased printing and TransPromo messaging.
Madison Advisors also noted that ADF handles more than just document production. “ADF now includes data management, content management and integration, color management, and document composition functions previously found upstream1.”
But what has this got to do with a PDF workflow for making books?
Since the acquisition of the former IBM Printing Systems Division, Ricoh has continued to expand the functionality of its software suite to match an expanding set of requirements from print providers that are not doing transactional work. With the introduction of RICOH ProcessDirector, the expansion has become even more powerful and includes a list of capabilities that printers would see as exactly what they need:
- Automated print management with scalable workflow control functions
- Graphical workflow builder that allows you to easily apply business rules and logic
- Optional PDF Mailroom Integrity Feature, which provides document-level control of PDF jobs and 100 percent closed loop reprint automation of PDF files without any further transforms
- The InfoPrint Ink Suite, which can deliver quick results in ROI by optimizing files for color, automating ink usage estimates and integrating with your Enfocus PitStop server
- A database-driven process engine with an extensible backbone for process management
- An embedded IBM® DB2® database, a Print Services Facility print driver and a built-in AFP and PDF viewer
- Precise management of document reprints from within your print centers
- Ability to start small and grow as your requirements change
Each and every one of these capabilities can find a home in a dedicated book production facility or commercial print-for-pay shop. The more complex the shop, the more these capabilities become central to a successful production environment. When all these elements are put under one system’s control, themanagement of the company gains many advantages that will make their entire operation more efficient and better equipped to meet tight SLAs.
As a book printer’s business expands, the system is ready. Its open architecture is designed to be extensible to span the total production environment. Adding features like color management, imposition, or digital asset management is easy. The system is so flexible that printers do not have to abandon any of the productivity tools with which they are familiar.
Solutions for Book Printers
“As a book printer’s business expands, the system is ready.”
Plus, the entire framework is in a constant state of review and upgrade by a group of more than 50 engineers and system architects. Ricoh development is driven 100 percent by customer requirements and direct involvement in customers’ shops. These teams work in concert with customers and push themselves to create progressively better systems. Ricoh is committed to providing commercial printers and book printers with alternative solutions that support open industry standards and connections to key production print technologies across vendors. This is seen in the on-going strategy of Ricoh to make substantial investments in companies like PTI Marketing Technologies and Avanti Computer Systems, which have complementary systems.
PTI Marketing Technologies is a leading provider of webto-print and marketing personalization solutions for both enterprise users and print service providers. Together, Ricoh and PTI are bringing new technologies, software and services to market. This enables companies to drive relevant, multichannel marketing campaigns at global, regional and local levels.
Avanti’s core technologies are uniquely positioned to complement Ricoh’s offerings with advanced solutions for mixed environments with wide format, digital cutsheet, continuous feed printers, offset, and fulfillment and kitting operations.
RICOH TotalFlow Cadence for Publishing was developed around the capabilities described above, with a few significant changes designed specifically for a shortrun digital book production environment. It allows
book printers to sort and optimize books with different characteristics automatically while taking advantage of a true automated document factory.
So…what can book printers learn from a transactional workflow?
For more insights from Ricoh see; ricoh-europe.com/printandbeyond