Vendors, Printers Debate JDF Merits
HARD TO SELL
But getting printers to accept the JDF is going to be difficult, Beedy says. Economics, resources and business models will determine who adopts the JDF, and how soon.
"In these times, to convince an industry to invest in upgrading technology for more efficiency is no easy task," Beedy says. He sees the largest printers, such as Quebecor World and R.R. Donnelley, going to the JDF first. "They have the engineering, they have the business coming in, they understand the accounting principles," he says.
Another thing that could slow the JDF's adoption: psychology. Most printers see themselves as craftsmen. "They'll have trouble moving to this process manufacturing mentality," Beedy says.
There's another side to the psychology: apprehension. Printers have seen highly touted technologies come and go. Some who jumped in early lost their shirt.
That makes some printers cautious. "We do not currently use any JDF-enabled applications, because it's a fairly new standard," says Anderson of Crowson Stone. "We like to be forward-thinking, but we want to make sure a technology makes business sense. [We don't] use it just because it's the next thing in a long line of technological changes."
Heidelberg's Mauro hopes to reassure printers as the company delivers new products that showcase the JDF's advantages. For example, Mauro says printers will be able to leverage JDF on older equipment from Heidelberg and other vendors.
"Even presses that can't be networked directly, we provide a console to enter operation code that can communicate to the system," Mauro says.
Printers like the message, but want to see the technology work. "Who's going to retrofit all the existing stuff I have with new programmable interfaces?" asks Beedy of Sells. "Three of my four stitchers don't have programmable interfaces. The industry can't afford to replace all its existing equipment.