With all of the prepress workflow systems that available on the market, selecting the right one for your company can be a daunting task. This page provides guidelines for selecting a workflow solution.
Buy a complete system or go DIY?
The first decision you have to make is whether you want to invest in a full-blown prepress workflow or go for a mix of smaller applications:
- The bigger workflow systems on the market, such as Apogee, Prinergy or Prinect, try to cover all aspects of prepress, from data intake and preflight to proofing, on-line page approval and plate making. They are incredibly versatile but come with a matching price ticket and hardware requirements. Most of these systems are modular – part of the purchasing process is working out which options you need.
- It is also possible to buy smaller stand-alone applications that each handle one specific tasks. Such systems are sometimes called Do It Yourself workflows. You need to analyze if the cost savings weigh up against the lack of integration and the possible extra work you will have in moving data around.
Shop for a solution
Make a list of all of the aspects of prepress that are important to you. Maybe you have specific imposition needs and want a system that is particularly good at some type of step-and-repeat work. Your type of work may require some special type of trapping. You may want a link with a particular MIS system or press management system. Make a list of all of the functions that are important to you and hand that over to vendors. Insist on a demo that shows off how their product handles your requirements.
For many companies a workflow demo is a kind of test to see if the system is capable of handling the most recent 3 problem jobs they ran across. While there is some value in running such tests, such demos don’t allow you to evaluate how efficient the system is at dealing with the daily workload.
Since purchasing a workflow system is a major investment, it makes sense to check if the system will be able to cope with your long term needs. Thinking of investing more in digital presses and less in offset in the next few years? Check that your future system is capable of handling these changing demands.
Purchasing a workflow as part of a bundle deal
The larger vendors that sell consumables (film, plates, ink) or presses often bundle their workflow solution with these products. They may offer the prepress workflow as an incentive when buying a press or they may propose to pay for it as part of a 2-year plate contract. There is a financial advantage in going for such a bundle deal but you should set your priorities straight: finding the right match for your prepress needs is more important than an attractive price.
Talking to others
Asking around on forums such as those at Printplanet.com or b4print.com can give you useful insight into other people’s experiences with a workflow and the vendor’s support. You do have to take those comments with a grain of salt. Personal preferences may get in the way of an objective evaluation. Comments about the quality of support in the USA are irrelevant if you are buying a system in Denmark, and vice versa. Talking to colleagues/competitors most likely gives a better idea about the support and commitment of a vendor.
In November 2011 I ran a poll about the popularity of various systems. It likely provides a rough indication on what the most used systems are.
Which prepress workflow do you use?
- Kodak Prinergy (22%, 51 Votes)
- Agfa Apogee (19%, 44 Votes)
- It is not listed (13%, 31 Votes)
- None (12%, 28 Votes)
- Heidelberg Prinect (10%, 23 Votes)
- Esko Nexus/Odystar (9%, 20 Votes)
- Rampage (7%, 16 Votes)
- Fujifilm XMF/other (5%, 11 Votes)
- Screen TrueFlow (3%, 8 Votes)
- Xitron Harlequin/Sierra (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 232