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Workflow Watchwords

(April 2017) posted on Mon Apr 17, 2017

Benefit by paying attention, not just to basics, but to a wide variety of potential add-ons.

By Darek Johnson

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Fifteen or so years ago, Sean O’Leary and I, then writing for the then-named The Big Picture magazine, interviewed Chuck Edwards, the president of ONYX Graphics who was an encyclopedic information source for raster image processing systems, or RIPs. We three met at an SGIA tradeshow press room and had barely sat down when Sean said, “Chuck, what’s the difference between a thousand-dollar RIP and five-thousand-dollar one?”

Chuck didn’t blink. “Four thousand dollars,” he said.

Several months later, digital-print guru Dean Derhak and I ate sandwiches at a downtown Cincinnati bar and grill and discussed design software and RIP sales. Dean was an Onyx product manager exploring new ideas. RIPs, then, were as Edwards later described, singular, page-translation algorithms that got you from point A to B in a print sense, short of lures and charms. In Cincinnati, Dean said his firm was planning to add workflow assets to their RIP software and I offered that workflow, in sign manufacturing, ran from the sales contract to the paid bill, stretching beyond the digital-print machine aspects of a given job.

Chuck’s point was that buying a RIP is like buying a car, i.e., you get a motor, wheels, doors and windows – other options are extra. In an undeveloped form, a RIP is a page translation algorithm that, like a car, is easily rigged with accessories. Dean’s future-thinking point – bolstering RIP features – has come to pass and due to his foresight, one regular RIP feature is being described as workflow software.

Workflow can be offered as a software, a production method or a combination of both. Generally, it’s a control system for production processes that allows you to manage production floor tasks, processes and information, and govern them through a set of procedures designed to get work done effectively at each stage. Then, as part of the process, forward it to the next processing station for its workflow-controlled action.


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