Describe your business
We’re a medium-sized heatset web offset firm focusing on the publications sector. In addition to that we also do some work in the retail, corporate and travel sectors.
What have you bought?
We were already using Fujifilm’s XMF workflow, which is a fully integrated digital pre-press solution. What we have purchased is an extension to that: XMF Remote. This is a web-enabled workflow tool that lets customers participate in the workflow, in varying degrees depending on how you configure it.
What does it do?
In it simplest, it would replace FTP. At its most advanced, the client would upload files, wait for advice they have been ripped, checking those files, approving them and the next thing we know the plates are made. A high degree of predefined automation can be built in.
Why did you choose this product?
We already had the Fujifilm workflow so the natural step was to use their remote workflow tool.
Did you consider any other products?
We did. We spoke to some vendors we had done business with in the past. But the reality is the company already had an up-to-date pre-press solution in place, which was servicing it particularly well. While there was an attraction to revert to something we knew, the best outcome was to build on the existing workflow.
What features do you particularly like?
Many of our clients have more than one person who can approve a project. In some cases, several people could provide final sign-off. With this tool, that can be done almost simultaneously. FTP has served the industry well and will continue to do so but it does not integrate directly with the workflow. The reality is most customers will be using this as a content proofing solution and to check impositions and double-page spreads, as opposed to colour.
How fast is it?
The time benefit comes from removing the need to physically transport a proof across town. You can cut out a lot of time. We are frequently producing time-sensitive documents. For those clients to be able to upload their files from remote locations and check them is a fantastic solution. The flexibility of people being able to stay in their studio or office and check files is a huge convenience factor.
Is there anything you wish it had that it doesn’t?
Full integration into the MIS and pre-press workflow in real-time and out into the production area is something some are achieving and many are aiming for.
How reliable is it?
Like anything to do with computers, if you poke rubbish at it you will get rubbish out but if you supply well-prepared print-ready PDFs, it is incredibly reliable.
How easy is it to use?
The solution is pretty user-friendly and operator will have no problems navigating their way through the required steps. It is pretty intuitive.
Has it saved time and money?
It will definitely save us time. Is there a huge cost saving it in it? No. We are still required to complete our own quality-assurance checks at our end and that requires our own intervention.
Were there any difficulties surrounding the install?
No particular challenges. For Fujifilm, this is a new product in this part of the world so to that extent their technical people have been learning to walk as our people have been. They have been very good and we have also had direct support from their team in the UK.
Who do you think this product is right for?
We consider XMF Remote is suited to a range of clients and it is absolutely right for people who are submitting files on a regular basis, if they have a fairly predictable product. Products coming out of a studio where every other job is different are less comfortable in this workflow environment. But we are talking about publications of 16pp and 8pp sections of similar sizes, without many permutations. Publishers are typically very disciplined in their file creation.
Implementing a web portal such as XMF Remote is the future of production, as it gets your client doing the work and taking responsibility for the files. It presents print-ready input to the workflow for fully automated production, which removes time-consuming errors. When implementing a web portal, it is key that it integrates with the workflow, is easy to use for the client and there are no hidden additional costs such as client licences. Providing flexibility across output data integrity and colour consistency while reducing the cost of ownership without impacting production is essential. Fujifilm has just recently announced an iPad app for XMF Remote, which we will preview at PrintEx11.
Steve Collyer, Fujifilm
Pictured: Caxton Web pre-press manager Andrew Archer with Mike Shannon
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