We caught up with Caldera’s Workflow Specialist Joey Phillips to discuss how automation is changing the printing industry and how he helps Caldera customers find solutions to streamline their business.
Automation is the new black
“With Nexio, customers can define every aspect of their workflow processes and they can use it as a bridge between their files and their printer configuration. Nexio gives wide format printers the opportunity to take full advantage of JDF business automation and derive as much power from the workflow as possible.” — Joey Phillips
In our brave new world, automation is clearly the way forward, allowing for stronger, more streamlined workflows and valuable savings on production costs. But knowing this is where you need to be and understanding how to get there are two entirely different things. For customers who want to make the most out of the latest opportunities for automation, this is where Workflow Specialist Joey Phillips steps into the picture. Indeed, it’s his mission to ensure that printers are working in the most effective production environment for their needs.
“At Caldera, I help our customers to find solutions that enable them to streamline and automate their production,” he says. “It could be anything from a simple hotfolder implementation for their e-commerce platform to integrating Nexio to join the dots between the RIP, the web shop and a multitude of other third-party applications like CRM, ERP and MIS.”
For those readers who are not familiar with Nexio, Joey can explain: “Nexio is a program that acts as a doorway into your Caldera RIP software. With Nexio, customers can define every aspect of their workflow processes and they can use it as a bridge between their files and their printer configuration.” To communicate with the RIP using Nexio, files are submitted with JDF job tickets. A JDF is similar to an XML, though with slightly different characteristics. This ticket can be as simple as file and configuration, or it can control every variable available for use in the software itself – it’s down to the operator.
Nexio also allows users to receive information from the printer. This might be in the form of ink usage, number of copies printed, and whether the job has been completed or not. The return message from Nexio is in a JMF format, allowing the user to push the data back into their MIS/ERP system for job tracking and analysis.
Bringing automation into the wide format arena
The march of automation through the print industry has been inexorable. Print shops of all sizes are reaping the benefits in the form of more efficient production, fewer errors and enhanced profitability. Nexio gives wide format printers the opportunity to take full advantage of JDF business automation and derive as much power from the workflow as possible.
According to Joey, “Automation allows a shop to build processes that enable efficiencies across the board, no matter how big or small the operation. Tasks that take customers minutes, if not hours, to complete can be reduced down to mere seconds. I can show them how to do this, whether it’s simply linking a hotfolder to the CalderaRIP image bar, or Nexio allowing a job to be processed as soon as the project specs are received.” Automation also reduces the number of errors that happen during production. With daily repetitive tasks automated, the chance of human error is eliminated.
What do you need to make Nexio work?
Joey outlines the upstream requirements that Nexio users will need for joining the dots between production and their third party programs. “Since Nexio uses JDF job tickets, it’s pivotal that customers can create a JDF. However, most ERP and MIS ordering systems integrate with JDF workflows. You will also want to consider whether the files you’re sending through Nexio are going to be print ready. If they’re not, then you might want to introduce a workflow system.”
When it comes to the environment and third-party solutions for making Nexio integrations work, Joey suggests that users shop around to find something that works for their specific needs. “Third-party workflow programs come with a variety of different features to help you meet your integration needs. Make a list of requirements and desires to ensure you pick something that will be the best fit for the way you want to work.”
Are you ready for Nexio?
So how do you know when you’re ready for the automation benefits that Nexio can bring? This is what it takes in Joey’s opinion: “Typically, a customer that is ready for integration using Nexio meets a couple of requirements. You’ll need to have a predefined production process creating a specific product offering. Nexio users will submit jobs directly to the RIP as soon as the order has been inputted, so it’s essential to have a solution for job orders, such as an ERP or MIS.”
Joey has three top tips for a successful Nexio implementation. “Firstly, having an inventory and/or ordering system is a must,” he says. “Nexio has to be used with a JDF job ticket – and without this piece of the puzzle, there can be no Nexio automation.”
The second tip is to know what tasks your prepress team and your production team do on every job. “This plays a huge role. You need to take a step back and trace your jobs’ life cycle – this will guide you all the way through your Nexio integration.”
Finally, Nexio users need to be clear about their goals when it comes to integration. “Knowing your goals and understanding how they can be met is vital,” says Joey. Fortunately, help is at hand – Joey and our other Caldera Workflow Specialists can answer all your questions and give you plenty of guidance on how Nexio can make a real difference to your workflow and your business.