For a full list of all systems that are capable of producing or processing JDF, the best resource is the JDF Marketplace document on the CIP4 site. Here is a brief summary of systems that can be JDF-enabled.
A Management Information System is used to create quotations for customers, handle the order entry and creation of job tickets, keep track of jobs and handle their scheduling, invoice customers and handle stock (for paper, ink, plates,…). Given the wide range of tasks that MIS has to perform, it is not uncommon that companies use a mix of software applications coming from different vendors instead of one single system.
Prepress systems that process data to generate proofs or plate data. Smaller systems can simply consist of a RIP while larger configurations have a built-in imposition module, preflighting, trapping,… Among the most popular prepress workflows are Agfa Apogee Prepress, Kodak Prinergy, Screen Trueflow or Harlequin based systems. Among the prepress workflow components that can be JDF enabled are:
- Preflight software: software that checks if pages or artworks meets the production requirements for correct output.
- Imposition software: Programs to combine multiple pages on a single press sheet. Unlike desktop printers, presses print on larger sheets of paper. How 2 to 24 (or more) pages can be combined on a single press sheet is handled by imposition software. Sometimes the software is only used to design the imposition template (the definition of how to combine all those pages), sometimes the imposition software actually processes the content and imposes the entire job.
Press Management Systems
A press controller is the software used to manage the jobs that get printed on one or more presses. Next to management functions such as determining job priority or tracking press up-time, these systems also allow a press operator to control settings of the presses. Press vendors offer such a solution for their systems, such as Pecom from Man Roland or K-Station from Komori. For big web presses there are also third party solutions available.
Ink key settings to preset a press are a prime example of data that can be generated by a prepress workflow system and communicated with the press management system using JDF.
Cutters, folding machines, binding equipment,… nowadays can be configured from a PC or a built-in controller. A configuration file can be preloaded which contains settings to automatically configure the machine. These settings can also be communicated using JDF.
Finishing equipment is often the last to get JDF-connected, for a number of reasons:
- The people working in finishing are typically not the best paid in the printing company. There is less incentive to automate their work.
- Set-up time on many machines is fairly short, so the ROI is not that good.
- Physics sometimes can get in the way. There can for instance be so much paper shrinkage on web presses that a manual adjustment of the cut lines is always needed. That makes it impossible to automate the process.