Craig Hudson, owner of Hudson Display Services, certainly feels that his Onyx software processes files quickly enough for his company at present. “It’s true that using Onyx software can create production islands to a certain extent, and you might question whether that’s the best way of doing things, but you can do everything almost within the one package – there are add-ons for all of your basic cropping marks through to colour management and adjusting.”
Adam McMonagle, technical advisor at Macro Art, adds that his company, though very impressed with GMG’s ProductionSuite, is also struggling to quite justify the investment from a workflow point of view. “They have built-in tools that it would be quite handy for the Caldera to have, such as bleed, but it only has the slight edge on the automation side of things,” he says.
McMonagle als o says he knows of printers for whom the package’s all-in-one nature and tools won’t offer faster processing, because they already have a pretty automated set-up due to customers supplying perfect, RIP-ready artwork. “Printers who get their artwork supplied to them exactly ready to go, wouldn’t necessarily need all of those tools,” he says. “That’s not very common in wide-format printing, but it can be the case where people have longstanding, established clients.”
On the volumes point, GMG’s Burnett says that in fact there should be no lower volume limit as a fully automated, seamless workflow will bring you benefits no matter how many jobs you are putting through.
“We have people with one output device running our product and we have a customer with 27 output devices and the feedback is that it is as useful to both equally,” he explains. “If it takes me 20 minutes to prepare a job currently, and with ProductionSuite I can get that down to two minutes, then, whatever the volume, I am making savings that will quickly repay my investment, even if I am only doing a job twice per day.”
He adds that the point about the relative costs of an integrated system to existing systems, at least in the case of GMG’s Production Suite, is also misleading. He explains that the base cost of the product is actually £4,500, which rises £2,500 for each additional press. He argues that the cost of this investment would be less than the cost of buying in each element of the workflow separately from different vendors and the benefits of the integrated system would give a faster ROI.
It also has to be considered, though, that it is not just about having a certain level of work, but also the right type of work. For example, Sean Davis, director at Creative FX, says his company produces a high volume of wrap work, but that the nature of this work means the automation provided by a ProductionSuite style product would still not be needed.
“The vast majority of our work is vinyl vehicle wraps so we don’t have to put any finishing marks in, and because we print all of the work on two Grenadiers we don’t need a centralised RIP, we just simply use the software that came with the printers in the first place,” he reveals.
Burnett admits that when a printer is doing the same type of job day in day out, then this sometimes may not be the best place for a system such as ProductionSuite. However, he says that in some instances a case can be made, as GMG can create a bespoke workflow that is specifically set up for repeat work.
Also, to see workflow in terms of just one of its components, such as the RIP in the above case, misses the point about the system’s capabilities. Having all components based in one place is where the benefit comes, not necessarily from how the individual aspects perform in comparison with those on the market – i.e. the full picture is where the benefits can be seen.
Burnett does admit, however, that specific printers will benefit from specific returns from the system that can be individual to that business type. A good example of this is Your Print Solution, which says colour calibration is where it feels the real benefit of a joined up workflow really come to the fore.
“The colour calibration was the big selling point for us, because for one customer who we do all the print for in particular –Wimpy – it’s absolutely vital that the colours are just right, that red is red whether printed on a pull-up banner or a vinyl substrate,” says owner Steve Brown, explaining that he feels ProductionSuite is the best way of quickly matching colours printed on his wide-format machines to those printed on his small-format kit. Here it is not just the accuracy, but also the speed of the colour calibration that brings the benefit.