Star product: Dalim Drive
Monday, March 1, 2021
A “unique” pre-press toolkit for high-volume operations.
Dalim Drive is a pre-press workflow tool set that adds functionality to existing workflows to process, correct and convert PDFs for print, with a particular aim of making them rip efficiently and quickly. It’s especially relevant to the high-job volumes seen by web-to-print services and other high-speed digital press work.
Drive is essentially a modernised and more modular SaaS packaging of Dalim’s Twist, a pre-press workflow automation system first developed in the 1990s .
When was it launched and what markets is it aimed at?
There have been alpha/beta installations for a few years, but the commercialised version of Drive was launched during 2020. According to Colin Price, managing director of Dalim’s recently opened UK office in Stratford-upon-Avon, “Drive was originally developed for a US Dalim customer with high-speed inkjet presses and other digital printing kit that needed a system to handle 20 files a second. Dalim worked out that they would need 75 Twist servers in order to do that, so instead the team came up with a solution using ‘microservices’, which means Dalim Drive can be scaled across as many CPUs as you like.
“Any print provider large or small could use Dalim Drive, although larger customers typically have a desire to process more files quickly than they can currently handle. While W2P applications are one type of work that can benefit, the product serves a wide variety, including direct mail, transactional, and poster printers.”
How does it work?
The functions of the original Twist system have been separated into a series of ‘microservices’ that can be implemented individually, even for single jobs if needed, without interfering with existing production workflow system. There are more than 100 tools available, including common favourites such as preflight and correction, conversions, trapping, colour management, normalising, scaling and file dispatch. Drive works with any cloud service (such as Amazon Web Service, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure) or clients’ on-site systems.
The efficiency is due to the ‘API First’ architecture, Dalim says. “This architecture, with a slim version of JDF specifications, makes implementation easy. One benefit is that user interface features do not burden any of the Drive tasks.”
Drive tools can accept any popular file format as input, and each task can prepare files for any output format – digital or traditional, or even online.
What’s the USP?
Scalability, easy integration, speed, robustness and flexibility, says Dalim. “It is a tailored solution for high-volume, high-speed deployments. Any printer can add one or more workflow production tasks that deliver much more productivity than in their existing workflow solutions. Drive tasks integrate well with other software in any workflow environment.”
How easy is it to use?
Once a particular tool is connected to the workflow any task, from preflighting to trapping, is simple, Dalim claims. “The operator still works within the existing production environment.”
How fast is it?
Drive can be scaled with as much processing power as you need. Price says: “For example, an HP 240T HD inkjet web press can print 16 pages per second, so if you are running two, as many do, you need to be pre-processing all your PDFs at a minimum rate of 32 pages per second. If you have four presses, you can scale checking to 64 pages per second, and so on. Dalim Drive meets these challenges.
“One of our users delivers 4 billion pieces of mail a year. Dalim Drive was integrated into the company’s workflow to preflight and normalise more than 2 million actions on more than 135,000 assets, saving countless hours of Adobe CC editing.”
Another user is said to be able to preflight and fix files four times faster than before, with minimal rejects, while another “can trap 30,000-40,000 jobs per day, sometimes with many pages, from their internally developed workflow”.
What training and support is on offer?
Dalim’s service includes connecting the tools to the existing workflow. The company says that “training, due to the simple nature of the Drive tools, is very quick and easy. However, if requested, Dalim Software can provide a service support programme”.
What does it cost?
Drive is available on a flexible licensing model. Price says: “It can be a monthly subscription, starting from around £500 per month up to £2,500 per month or higher volume speed processing. Or it can be based on a click charge model. The charge for a printer processing high volumes of files very quickly could be as low as 0.5 pence per file.”
Platform Local servers or online SaaS (software as a service)
Functions About 100 microservices offering processing tools that can be implemented as required
Price Licensing model depends on volume, starting from about £500 per month
Contact Dalim UK www.dalim.com 07786 021715
Dalim claims that there’s no direct equivalent to Drive on the market in terms of its delivery and how is able to embed any task within any workflow system that a printer already is using.
There are of course many other pre-press workflows available, both as primary systems to drive platesetters or digital presses, and as add-on third party workflow functions (such as Enfocus Switch or OneVision).
According to Dalim: “We believe that Dalim Drive is a new and unique solution, the first of its kind in addressing an emerging problem for high-speed digital print production without interfering with existing systems. It has been offered because our customers have really not been able to find similar options in the marketplace.”
The company says that the only other print-related product with a similar delivery mechanism is PrintIQ, though that is primarily an MIS/ERP system that integrates with web-to-print and manages workflows rather than providing processing tools itself.
“Until Dalim Drive there was nothing available at this speed. With the 200 core processor, we are capable of pre-flighting and fixing an average of over 50 PDF pages a second” Alan Darling Vice-president Information Systems, Quantum Color Graphics, Illinois, US