Automated Prepress Workflow Increases Efficiency
The amount of packaging prepress work has certainly increased in the past few decades, particularly as the flexo print process has become much more sophisticated. There are obviously many reasons, although powerful influencers are the high-quality flexo plates, presses with much greater control, and more demands from brand owners who are competing much more intensely for attention on the shelves.
Fortunately, prepress workflow technology has kept up with all of these demands. Many of the tasks that would have taken hours and hours of manual time are now managed by automated prepress systems in a matter of minutes—or even seconds. And, they have also offered new functionality, considered unimaginable 5-10 years ago, which make the prepress process even more efficient.
There are many examples, but here are a few that have really made the prepress department's job more efficient.
Preflighting: Assuring files are clean
A very common component of workflow automation is preflighting. It assures that a customer has prepared the graphics file correctly, in terms of verification of file make-up. This could include image file formats, image resolutions, missing fonts, and much more. It could also assure that a printer's own rules have been adhered to. What could this mean? Issues such as minimum dot breaks, improper line widths, and incorrect color spaces can be avoided in proofing or on the press.
Preflighting software comes in many forms: stand-alone software, Web-based software, plug-ins to popular software packages, 'software-as-a-service' models, and others. Some are resident at the printer's or converter's facility. Others are given to customers to check files before they are delivered. But, they all do the same thing. The automation prevents a prepress department from wasting valuable time checking a number of file components manually rather than focusing on value-add services. Or, more importantly, they prevent the cost of a plate problem or on-press errors that could have been caught much earlier.