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Book print shops

Production specifics

A book is the most refined and also the most complicated printing product. Today, at the time of advancing digitalisation its traditional function changes, a book is faced by growing requirements. Low price and attractive cover are not enough these days – books become exclusive packagings for multimedia materials or single use educational toys. Today, a book must compete not only with other books but also with tablets and e-books.

Book printing is made mainly using offset sheetfed or web printing methods. In the case of web printing technique books are printed both using coldset (black and white production) and heatset (large, full colour edition). In the case of books production, binding is as important as the printing itself. Cheap books (mainly paperback production) printed in large amounts require highly automated processes in order to lower costs of their production. Also in the case of books of more advanced finishing, new methods of production cost cutting without decreasing their quality are constantly looked for. The most popular are therefore the new types of bindings such as integrated binding as well as the hardcover binding with glued book block.

Problems and Challenges

Books production means constant search for optimal balance between quality, speed of production and price. The challenge is calculation of production costs itself which in the case of large volume edition may include tens and sometimes even hundreds of sub-processes. The situation is additionally complicated by  numerous versions and variants of the same book, which are more and more popular among publishers.

Large group of editors resigned from maintaining their own DTP sections and order typesetting and formatting from freelancers operating on the market. This caused significant complication of the process of material acceptance for printing – the materials sent to print shop are of various quality, the files regarding the same publication are prepared by various persons and the publisher considers the received layout proofs as materials for substantive correction of the texts. The simultaneous extending of the materials acceptance process rarely leads to change of the final book manufacturing deadline.

Book quality is a result of work of many persons and the errors committed at the early stage may be revealed at the time of binding when it is too late for any correction. The final effect may result from such various factors as assembly scheme, cardboard storage conditions, ICC profile used during imaging of printing forms. Therefore, the information flow in a print shop and coordination of various sections operations are of key importance.

Solution

PrintManager (CRM - Client Relations Management module, PLM - Product Lifecycle Management, PP - Preplanning, JA - working time registering module, WMS - Warehouse Management System, SA - sales, BI - strategic analysis) + WebClient with the PrintOnDemand solution – automatic graphic files processing module with digital layout proofing function.

The PrintManager system is a modular system supporting printing company management. The system enables registering of any crucial information for operation efficiency, its processing and making it available to the authorised persons. The system supports implementation of processes in the company, helps in following the required procedures by imposing order and standardising work of all its users. The system configuration is flexible enough to allow for covering and modelling not only the production processes in the system but also for graphic projects performance, marketing activities, complaints processes and any other processes with established procedure – e.g. related with implementation of quality systems procedures obligatory in the company.

From the print shop employees’ point of view, implementation of the PrintManager system enhances work organisation, improves information flow, automates the repeatable operations. For the management board, system implementation guarantees compliance with the chosen procedures, ensures control over the employees’ activities, gives access to indices informing about effectiveness of performed actions.

The WebClient module integrated with the PrintOnDemand solution is an autonomous system used for standardisation of production files, equipped with digital layout proof publishing and acceptance option. The PuzzleFlow based solution which can be applied in connection with the PrePress solutions used in a print shop or which can be developed into a full production system including tools for page pairing, trapping, and ink usage reduction.

Support of the basic areas of company operation

Customer service, Sales, Finances, Warehouse are the basic areas of company operation. The PrintManager system offers support the ContactManager, ProductManager, Sales and WarehouseManager modules.

The ContactManager is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) used for collection of information about the print shop customers, documents management and organising work in the form of projects. It can be used for modelling and control of any processes performed in a company, enforcing specified operations on the users. The ContactManager module includes also a set of Document Management System functions: enables registering the documents created in the company, following changes made in these documents and controlling the documents versions.

The SalesAssistant is the module responsible for support of sales in the PrintManager system. The module allows for registering sales documents related with the production orders for customers. The system integration results in forwarding most of data from other modules which significantly simplifies work with SA module. The module also enables registering purchase invoices and settlement of invoice. The SA module is open to integration with many popular finance and accounting systems is its significant feature which additionally enhances information flow in a company and automates the implemented processes.

The warehouse is serviced using the WarehouseManager module. The module offers complex management services for numerous physical and logical warehouses. The system may serve many companies and the number of serviced warehouse documents covers the scope of each print shop warehouse operation in 100%. The warehouse enables full identification of products including identification of orders (production batches) from which comes a product available at the warehouse.

Technical preparation of production

The ProductManager module is used for description of production technology in the PrintManager system. It is a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) class module supporting the user from the moment of preparing a quotation through automatic generation of offers, placing orders to generating production orders. Production technology is already initially specified during calculation and the production costs are estimated then. Upon establishing the final performance technology the estimated production costs are recalculated before commencement of production which helps in locating works of lower profitability even before their performance and allows for earlier reaction. Production technology of repeatable products such as labels, packaging or periodicals of constant volume is saved by the ProductManager in a process chart enabling immediate commencement of production using the right technology in the case of reprints.

Production Planning

The ProductionPlanner module enables the planner to optimise printing production in terms of backgrounds and formats used for printing as well as any tools such as blanking dies and stencils for pressing in order to limit the number of the necessary changeovers of machine to the minimum and to limit the production costs.

PrePress

The PrintManager system supports prepress processes by monitoring the status of tools required for production (such as blanking dies, photo-polymer varnishing forms or stencils for embossing) and informing about the materials not being ready for the planned orders. The solution enables prepress processes optimisation by adjusting them to the production plans, notwithstanding whether the tools are made in the print shop or at the subcontractors. The system also provides effective register of prepress processes costs regardless of the method of their processing.

The WebClient supported by the PuzzleFlow PrintOnDemand solution is a module dedicated the case of works production in the Prepress. This solution enables a print shop customer to perform preflight even before sending files which may significantly speed up the process of materials approval for printing.  The WebClient automates many prepress processes, it features the digital layout proofs and online materials acceptance option. It may be developed into the full prepress production system performing page pairing and preparing normalised files for platesetter rendering systems.

Press

In the JobAcquisitor module, print operators have access to technological details regarding the performed operations. The module allows for registration of work in real time while processing the production order leading to more efficient organisation and work control. The machines operators also have the possibility of reporting the errors and breaks in production occurring during the production process. Using the SCADA module in print introduces quality control of each sheet within the edition and, as a consequence, the problem of a spread missing for edition which is common at the print shops is eliminated altogether.

PostPress

The JobAcquisitor module enables registration of production operations by the operators in accordance with the technology path specified in the order. Registration of any parameters for operation is possible using the module. Automatic counting of operation time depending on the number of personnel adjusts operation to the given production shift. Registration of produced waste paper on each process allows for optimisation of the prepared technology and for gradual reduction of production costs.

Management Board

All the modules of the PrintManager system collect ongoing data regarding work of the particular employees and sections then added into the central data warehouse which apart from the PrintManager system may aggregate information from any other information solutions used in the company allowing for creation of precise multilayer strategic analyses. The BI module helps in precise accounting  and checking profitability of orders with many finished products combined on one printed sheet.

Solution Advantages

  • Integration of the PrintManager print shop management system with the PuzzleFlow production solutions system gives the possibility of full control over the process of production preparation and materials acceptance for printing which are often key issues for timely performance of the order
  • Unique solution offering the Preflight to the print shop customers not only speeds up the materials acceptance process but also reduces the Prepress section’s workload
  • The production technology description in the system is based on operations diagram which enables precise specification of each spread edition size (depending on the operations performed) and the operations order in the plan may be optimised so that it uses the machine facilities to the maximum within the shortest time of the order performance
  • The PrintManager system enforces compliance with the accepted procedures and implementation of a set of significant information which is particularly important during book production where crucial information is very often dispersed among various sections
  • The system includes the possibility of modelling and controlling any process – from approval of graphic design of the cover to ISO or GMP Quality Standards procedures
  • All data and documents are saved on the server which increases their safety – data gathered in one place simplifies archiving and it is also easier to protect it against access of unauthorised persons.
  • The PrintManager system is based on the stable, reliable solutions of Microsoft company and therefore cooperates well with the Office software and any administrator familiar with the Microsoft solutions can manage it
  • The client-server architecture and modular construction makes the system scalable – i.e. it is easily adjustable to the company of any size and development of the system does not require exchange of the system server, purchase of singular modules is sufficient

Implementation Benefits

  • Implementing a cost calculation method based on production norms of all singular operations using estimates creator which is easily applicable
  • Enhancement and automation of the process of release of materials for printing significantly reducing the process duration
  • Introduction of multi-level cost evaluation and control – at the calculation level upon preparation of technology and upon performance of an order
  • Implementation of effective verification method for the norms pertaining to a production stage, together with identification of paper waste producing locations
  • Implementation of effective production planning methods taking into account division of planning into planning of singular sheets
  • Management process optimisation with raw material supplies which guarantees availability of the needed materials without increasing the warehouse inventories
  • Improvement of information flow inside the company