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Aug 1, 2007 12:00 AM


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At first glance, Spectrum Printing (Orlando, FL) might seem like a typical small or midsized printer. The 10-year-old, 24-employee company occupies a 2,700-sq.-ft. facility. A quick look at Spectrum's equipment list, however, soon reveals Spectrum's cutting-edge capabilities. The prepress department is anchored by a Rampage workflow driving a Fuji Javelin thermal platesetter. The workhorse of the pressroom is a six-color Komori LS40 with aqueous coating, supplemented by two Ryobi presses: a five-color 685 D (also with aqueous coating) and a two-color 3302. Specialty finishing services include spot coating, die-cutting, foil stamping and embossing.

Spectrum has invested in the latest print technology and equipment, and with an expert staff of seasoned professionals, it is continuously developing a more efficient infrastructure with a commitment to the fastest turnarounds.

It's a beautiful day

“We are committed to researching and implementing new technologies that help our clients achieve more beautiful and effective results,” says Mike Rogers, CEO. “Next-generation technology and equipment run by printing professionals keep our costs down and quality up.”

Like most printers, Spectrum has a keen need for speed. “Gone are the days when we had the luxury of long lead times and long runs; today, more than 70 percent of our business has a turnaround time of less than 48 hours,” says Bill Cassese, production manager.

Spectrum's ongoing quest to streamline its workflow ultimately led to Avanti Computer Systems Ltd. (Toronto), the company's management information solution (MIS) provider. Spectrum had been utilizing Avanti's software to manage the production side of its business since October 2006. Rogers and the Spectrum team wanted to further automate the workflow by connecting prepress software to the MIS and right down to the presses, if possible.

As part of its standard system, Avanti offers a JDF framework that lets Spectrum send automated job instructions from the Avanti Order Entry system directly to the prepress department and, from there, to the Komori press. Upon job completion, the press can then send information back to Avanti using JDF and/or JMF. Essentially, Avanti's JDF framework creates a seamless information and data-transfer link between Spectrum's Rampage system in prepress and its six-color Komori LS40 press.

“Printing used to be keystroke/input repetitive; now all information is put in the system at the estimate stage and Avanti automatically drives the project through our workflow and right out the door,” says Cassese. “Having Avanti as the motherboard sitting above all of the JDF-compliant equipment with an ability to customize the program to meet our specific needs, has made Avanti a strong part of Spectrum's infrastructure.”

Cassese is delighted to have all production information at his fingertips: “Once you have all of the links connected, it is a beautiful world. The amount of time that has been saved is enormous,” he says.

Rogers adds that the company's current success bodes well for expanded automation: “I've got the infrastructure in place now for us to go 85 mph, which is great because we only need to travel at 55 mph today. When we hit 70 mph, I'll be sure to have everything in place so we can comfortably travel at 100 mph.”

Spectrum plans to integrate its Kodak Preps imposition software with Avanti as well as other JDF-enabled postpress equipment, such as its Heidelberg Polar cutter and Stahl folders, to further streamline operations.

JDF for printers of all sizes

The Avanti JDF framework enables even small and midsize shops to reap the benefits of a JDF-based workflow. “While I would like nothing better than for my competition to consider JDF something that isn't ready for prime time, the reality is that JDF is real,” says Rogers. “It is here now, and the benefits will positively impact day-to-day operations.”

See www.spectrumprint.net.

Leaders profit with automation

According to the PIA/GATF's chief economist, Dr. Ronnie Davis Ph.D., printers can be divided into two basic categories: Profit Leaders and Profit Challengers. Profit Leaders comprise the top 25 percent of all printers in the United States, measured by profitability; profit challengers make up the remaining 75 percent. In his 2006 roundup, Davis presented some staggering results. These profit leaders representing only a quarter of the industry generate 96 percent of the industry's profit.

So what is the key differentiator between Profit Leaders and Profit Challengers? Gareth O'Brien, CEO of Objective Advantage, tackles this question in an AMERICAN PRINTER online exclusive: “JDF and the business of print” (see www.americanprinter.com).

“It's a willingness to make capital investment in automated machinery and integrated software solutions that leads to reduced cost of production and improved reliability of service,” writes O'Brien. “Leaders' capital expenditure typically exceeds that of Challengers by 50 percent. Leaders understand that paying employees to perform manual tasks always will work out to be more expensive than capital investment in automation. They understand that using automation to achieve a defined business strategy is the way to generate healthy future profits in the print industry.”

Objective Advantage is a Houston-based provider of automation software and integration services to printers and publishers. See www.oai.cc.

About Avanti

Avanti serves a diverse customer base of more than 400 users at offset, digital, hybrid, large-format specialty graphics and in-plant operations. Fully integrated modules include Web-to-print, Estimating, Order Entry, Job Costing and Tracking, Inventory Management, Purchasing, Scheduling, Shop Floor Control, Fulfillment, Direct Machine Interfaces to all the key JDF-enabled equipment, Shipping, Invoicing, CRM and Executive Dashboards. See www.avantisysystems.com.

Avanti & JDF

Avanti is a member of CIP4, a consortium of vendors, consultants and end-users in the print communications and graphic arts industry, covering a variety of equipment, software, peripherals and processes. Members participate in focus groups to help define future JDF versions, study user requirements, and design the JDF software developer's kit (SDK).

Avanti completed its first JDF project more than two years ago. Its award-winning JDF framework helps their customers move from “one-off” JDF customization projects to an environment where new equipment and new software can communicate cost effectively. See www.CIP4.org.