In the usual production scheme, jobs move between at least two different enterprises: the creator and the printer. Darling says when these business partners standardize their digital data exchanges - meaning file types, file formats, and file transfer methods - they can automate the process, and virtually eliminate the preflight person and salary cost.
Regardless of whether a company has one or 100 manufacturing partners, most printers today are equipped to produce, consume, and exchange digital files using all the popular computer file formats (such as PDF, PDF/X-1a, TIFF/IT-P1, RAW, etc.). Most can also adapt their digital workflow specifications to align with customer requirements.
Forward-thinking content creators are discovering they must exploit their vendors' untapped capabilities to fully reap the production and cost efficiencies promised by going digital. They're standardizing workflows and file formats across their printer partners. Printers who want to grow their businesses are taking note, and embracing the need for change.
"Standards are a God-send," says DDAP's Darling. "They level the playing field. But print buyers and printers need to adopt the technology and optimize process standards, and require their partners work with them as well. When creators, printers, and software vendors correctly support established standards, the data flow becomes transparent."
DEMANDING SUPERIOR SERVICE
Printers, software, and hardware solution providers are feeling their customer's pain, and starting to adapt their offerings to support better communication, flexible cross-company workflow integration, and accredited digital media file formats.
In fact, some vendors are now offering completely open systems that leverage established file and data transfer standards, enabling their customers to collaborate with them more closely, and automate tedious print production tasks.
Others are customizing their solutions on an as-needed, customer-by-customer basis. Both approaches are recognition that agreement on data and process standards are key to successful digital publishing, ensuring consistent print quality, improved manageability, and offering profound financial benefits to both sides of the buyer/vendor relationship.