Adobe’s New Plug-ins for Digital Textile Now in Beta!

Pat McGrew
 Oct 29, 2018

Earlier this year Mike Scrutton of Adobe stood on a small stage at FESPA in Berlin to talk about the needs of designers in the digital textile space. The challenge, as Scrutton defined it, was that building patterns was time consuming. Fitting, turning segments, and setting colors for elements was time consuming. Changes required going back to the original files and making changes, and then pulling another proof. The growth of fast fashion and fast décor has put a laser focus on the need for faster time-to-market and a different design-to-product requirement than traditional design in the Textile space. Add the word “digital” to anything and the requirement becomes to turn projects around faster and with more efficiency. At FESPA there was the hint that something was coming, from Adobe, that would address the needs of digital textile designers. In fact, something so cool, it might be of use to anyone who designs patterns.

Roll the calendar forward a few months and Adobe has now released the public beta for Project Paras, a new plug-in for Adobe Photoshop CC that makes the process of design prints easier. From adding repeats to changing sizes of elements, the Project Paras plug-in includes tools for previewing, editing, defining separations, and setting colorways. By keeping every element editable up until you save the final manufacturing-ready file, textile designers can get the design just right without the usual rounds of testing, re-editing, and testing again.

Screen Shot Adobe Photoshop CC Project Paras Plug-in
Source: Adobe Project Paras

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The Ricoh Ecosystem: Interact 2018

Pat McGrew
 Jul 11, 2018

Do you go to vendor open houses and networking events? If you are a customer of any of the big hardware vendors or many of the independent software vendors you are likely to receive a cheery invitation to one or more events each year that give you an opportunity to hear from the company executives and listen to technical presentations on current and future products. They usually bring in a few industry speakers and try to create an environment where everyone has an opportunity to network. These are valuable experiences for the vendors who host them, the customers who attend them, and the journalists and analysts to attend, as well.

Ricoh recently hosted their Interact 2018 meeting in Westminster, Colorado, just a short ride form their plant in Boulder. The event was full of interesting insights from Ricoh staff, customers, and industry speakers, but that wasn’t the most interesting thing about Interact. For a company like Ricoh there are a lot of moving parts. Even inside of Commercial and Industrial Printing, led in the US by John Fulena, there are production cut sheet, production web, wide format, and a variety of industrial print devices worthy of your attention. Staging a conference where attendees can get a sense of Ricoh – One Ricoh – is difficult. How many sessions do you run concurrently? how do you give everyone podium time to talk about their innovations?

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Smart Package Manufacturing: HP One Package Workflow Suite Brings New Levels of Optimization

Pat McGrew
 Jun 25, 2018

Corrugated product producers have traditionally thought in terms of square meters and board feet. The goal: keep corrugated products heading out the door. For corrugators that meant keeping the corrugator online and in production which was managed with a Manufacturing Execution System tied to standard business management software suites. Corrugated board manufacturers often use their business systems to manage their manufacturing requirements, augmented with process-specific tools. The advent of digital corrugated production options adds many more requirements to the production workflow, most of which are closer to traditional commercial printing than traditional converting. With experience born from implementations of both digital liner preprinting ahead of corrugation and digital corrugated board printing (“post printing”) comes the HP One Package workflow suite targeted toward users of all HP PageWide Industrial corrugated presses.

HP PrintOS Site Flow Drives End-to-End Print Production for HP Corrugated

Source: HP

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Making Efficient Workflows: 2018 Solimar User Conference

Pat McGrew
 May 13, 2018

San Diego is known for being a hub of invention, from inkjet development to dynamic software solutions. Solimar Systems is embedded in that innovation hub, with 27 years of providing solutions to companies with workflow challenges. Their 2018 User Conference in San Diego (May 8-10) brought together their top users to share their solutions, learn about new features and provide feedback to the Solimar technical team. I am a huge fan of user conferences for the networking opportunities they bring for both the solutions staff and the customers. Face to face is always the best way to gain trust among users and for users to develop all-important relationships.

This year’s event began with a Customer Advisory Council meeting that included a Keypoint Intelligence Keynote: Like Childred, Your Workflow Needs Attention! The council consists of 23 Solimar users who meet on a regular cadence to provide guidance. The goal of the keynote was to talk through the power of workflow automation in driving efficiency and profitability. We are advocates of workflow assessments, as are the team at Solimar Systems, so the presentation walked through a ten step review of workflow processes, with supporting data from the latest Keypoint Intelligence North American Software Investment Survey.

The most interesting takeaways from the Customer Advisory meetings was the diversity of issues faced by Print Service providers of all sizes, and the variety of approaches they take to move toward efficiency. We heard from companies that approach workflow with multiple solutions and some that approach with a single-threaded workflow approach, all using the Solimar products to add efficiency to their production processing.

The Solimar User Group encompasses the Advisory Council and an extended group of Solimar Users. The event included presentations from partners, including Konica Minolta, SCREEN, Ironsides Technology, Reality BLU, BCC Software, and RISO. Customer panels included deep dives into Operational Efficiencies, Differentiated Services, Compliance and Security, and Customer Experience, allowing customers to share their best practices.

Two keynotes touched on tangential workflow issues. The first was the Keypoint Intelligence presentation by Pat McGrew: The Workflow Revolution: Are You On Board? The goal was to provide guidance on how to approach workflow as a moonshot, moving toward the best level of optimization possible. The theme was that operational excellence requires an executive commitment and an open mind to allow change. The goal is Smart Print Manufacturing that embraces automation.

The second keynote came from Tim Cooper, Chief Enterprise Architect at Harland Clarke. If you have not heard a Tim Cooper presentation you have missed something special. Tim has decades of experience in workflows and is a deep thinker when it comes to optimization and breaking down barriers. His presentation was A Discussion on Workflow Facts that Can Lead to Wrong Conclusions. He walked through how looking at data in a vacuum can lead to the wrong architecture and implode operational efficiencies.

Tim shared how he arrived at his philosophy of workflow, and how using the Solimar solutions he was able to wrangle multiple, disparate workflows in to a single workflow, and reduce processing time from more than 3000 hours to under a couple of days. That drew gasps from PSPs in the room struggling with the same challenges.

The true value of user group meetings comes from the networking and sharing, as well as guidance that analysts can supply to provide guidance for decisions about the next investments and architecture changes need to be made. The Solimar team did an excellent job of tuning the mix of technical sessions focused on products and solutions with partner presentations and announcements, and customer panels.

Visions of Modern Packaging from the HP Media Day

Pat McGrew
 Mar 11, 2018

The team at HP hosted a Media Day in Israel in February that unveiled the HP C500 cut sheet inkjet corrugated board printing platform along with demonstrations of the HP Indigo 6900 and 20000 platforms. Combined with a customer event, the HP team had an opportunity to bring both a technology story and a customer success story to the Media event.

Keypoint Intelligence produced analysis for the event that covers the event and introductions. This blog is focused on the samples shown during the event, which focused on the  corrugated packaging story, and the complementary stories behind folding carton solutions.

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Connecting at EFI Connect: New Strategies!

Pat McGrew
 Jan 31, 2018

Each year EFI hosts their customers, partners, media and analysts at their signature event, EFI Connect. The format is part trade show and part educational conference, giving EFI a chance to not only show off the latest solutions, but also to interact with customers, gather their requirements, and answer questions. EFI mounts a major troop movement to ensure that any question you have can be answered by an expert!

Last year the EFI Connect story was about acquisitions and partnerships. The acquisitions of Reggiani and Optitex were still fresh and repackaging of workflow software into a series of suites consumed much of the conversation. Just after the event EFI announced the arrangement with Xerox to acquire the FreeFlow Print Server and to become the primary DFE provider to Xerox.

 

EFI showed printed textiles

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Workflow in 2018: What’s Included in the Package?

Pat McGrew
 Jan 10, 2018

In 2017 we walked the workflow, followed an audit trail, and ended with the admonition that your workflow is not proprietary. That last post might have seemed odd, but the reason for the post evolved out of countless conversations with printers who see their workflow as their Intellectual Property. It is understandable to want to protect processes that make a business unique and provide a competitive advantage, but when broken down the optimized workflow process has four components: Creating the content, getting the print job on-boarded, manipulating and managing the job files through to the RIP, and the RIP and Digital Front End (DFE).

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News Flash! Your Workflow is NOT Proprietary

Pat McGrew
 Dec 4, 2017

As we approach the end of the calendar year, it is a good time to take a look at your workflow. If you have been following the earlier blogs, there is a road to travel to ensure that you have the most efficient workflow, from the point you begin to sell a job to the point where you deliver it. And while it is true that every workflow should be developed to meet the needs of the operation it supports, it is also true that it is very, very rare to find a workflow that meets the criteria to be proprietary.

Workflows have physical, data, and file-based components woven together to ensure that work that is sold is onboarded promptly and correctly, scheduled, and executed. Physical workflows are how you move substrates to and among your devices and through to fulfillment. Data workflows describe how data moves into the organization from customers, and then through the organization into accounting and production. Data not only includes the information needed for managing the order in the accounting system, but also the order and fulfillment specifications, as well as the data that follows the job through each workflow touchpoint. It is machine data as well as data captured from the production systems. In VDP printing environments it can also encompass the data used to create the VDP work if it isn’t delivered as a print-ready file. The file-based components areprincipally the print-ready files, but could also include font and graphic assets, dieline files or other supporting documents.

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Comparting 2017: “Digitalizing Communication! Digitalizing Business Processes!”

David Stabel
 Nov 17, 2017

Under the motto of “Digitalizing Communication! Digitalizing Business Processes!”, this year’s Comparting conference, held November 9-10 in Germany, was all about how digitalization affects the document and output management for enterprises as well as print service providers. Keypoint Intelligence’s Pat McGrew had the honor to provide the keynote titled: “Let’s Get Digital!” Other presentations also focused around the topic of digital transformation of customer communications. And, of course, Compart’s latest innovation, DocBridge Impress, had a central role at the conference.

Harald Grumser, CEO
Thorsten Meudt, CMO

Compart, who celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has successfully hosted this annual event since 2005 with the number of participants increasing each year. More than 400 people from 14 countries world-wide attended the conference, representing a 10% increase over last year. The number of participants outside of Germany almost doubled from 25% in 2016 to 40% this year and reflects Compart’s growing international business.

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Let’s Talk About IPEX 2017

Pat McGrew
 Nov 9, 2017

We know it wasn’t the 11-hall extravaganza of shiny hardware we have seen in the Birmingham National Exhibition Center in the past. It wasn’t even the show we saw mounted at the ExCel center in London. The return of the IPEX brand to the print industry trade show market was half of hall 5 at the Birmingham NEC. And that is OK. It’s a new start on a rebuilding campaign for one of the oldest Print trade shows, so why not give it a fair shake?
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