IPG interviewed Howard Fenton, senior digital technologies consultant for NAPL, on a host of technological and workflow issues of concern to in-plant managers.
IPG: In your experience of consulting with in-plant managers, what's their biggest prepress challenge today?
Fenton: By far, the biggest problem they're facing is working with and training customers to prepare files correctly. Although this issue is one commercial printers face as well, it seems for be more challenging for in-plants. Somewhat surprisingly, the need for proper training in file preparation often is not recognized by large organizations.
Ongoing collaboration between the customer and the print provider about proper file preparation is an essential part of an efficient digital workflow. To this end, in-plant operators should be proactive in providing the customer with detailed guidelines on which fonts to use, which file formats and programs work best, how much resolution is needed for scans, the best way to create PDF files, and a host of other issues that influence if and how well files will print.
If the in-plant fails to communicate this information, they'll increase their chances of receiving a "bad" file. The time and effort needed to make the file printable puts an unnecessary burden on workflow and resources, while working with the customer to produce "clean" files will both reduce mistakes and enhance the quality of the product.
It's also important that, if bad files do make it into the in-plant, the flaws are detected early in the process, before they reach the prepress or the production area. A bad file that makes it to production can stall the process by several days as production staff scramble to repair the files or gather the missing elements. CSRs can play a key role here by checking the file carefully before sending it on to prepress.