Vendors, Printers Debate JDF Merits
The Job Definition Format, an XML-based standard for automating the entire printing workflow, continues to gain support among leading industry vendors.
Heidelberg USA is moving rapidly on the JDF front. The company has announced plans to make all of its Prinect workflow products compatible with JDF by next year.
This will integrate production equipment with business workflow, and create a digital workflow from prepress to press, to post-press, says James Mauro, product manager for Prinect Press Products at Heidelberg USA Inc., Kennesaw, Ga.
For example, the JDF will enable Heidelberg's Prinect Internet Portal to automate print buying and quote generation. Job definitions posted online by customers will be saved as JDF files, which then populate the Prinance estimating package.
Printers will then generate quotes with Prinance. When customers accept the quotes, they're converted into JDF job tickets, which go straight to pressmen.
"We want to cut out the need to enter the customer's name and job details at each stage of the system," Mauro says. "In the heavy manufacturing industries, there's a lot of automation, and that lets customers do [time saving] things like check status. That's the functionality we want to bring to printing through [the] JDF."
Printers say they like what they're hearing from Heidelberg and others about the JDF. "There's been talk about standards throughout our industry for a long time," says Rob Anderson, VP of Operations at Crowson Stone Printing, in Columbia, S.C. "[The] JDF has the potential to take us another step towards the computer integrated manufacturing model."
Other printers see the JDF as crucial to the survival of the printing industry in these troubled times. That's because, in theory, it makes shop operations faster, more efficient, and requires fewer skilled personnel.
"If printing is going to be viable, we have to pick up efficiencies," says Craig Beedy, VP of Technology for Sells Printing Co., in New Berlin, Wis. "JDF is having a machine do what a person can do, in terms of setup, data, transferring of information. [It's] trying to make printing more of a science than a craft."