|Your next question may be
“is JDF of benefit to me?” Well, the answer to that question is
not that simple. It depends on many factors that range from your
willingness to let go of the “old way” of doing things to the funding
that you have. Don’t be fooled by vendors that predict your company’s
downfall if you “miss the boat” on the JDF craze. Reality is that JDF
enabled equipment today still requires a printing skill set from the
operator. While vendors advertise the concept of “dumbing down” the
operators to reduce production cost, this is often not where the primary
benefit and opportunity for improvement exist. The benefit of JDF enabled
work environments today is primarily in very large print shops that have
the personnel and funding available to pay for the equipment, software and
personnel for these environments up front. And, let’s not forget that
printing equipment is typically not purchased to be replaced every 2-5
years but rather every 15-25 years. So are you going to replace the press
you bought 4 years ago with a JDF enabled piece of equipment? Or will you
spend additional money to upgrade it with a data collection kit to
integrate it into your JDF solution? Fact is that without a thorough
analysis of what causes the largest cost or loss of profit in your
individual shop, there is no telling if there will be any benefit at all
in spending all the time, effort and money to transform your shop to a
fully JDF controlled and managed environment.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- What typically goes wrong in my shop?
- Why do these things go wrong?
- How much does it cost me when things go wrong?
- Is there any way to avoid these things from going
In many cases the primary answer to these questions is an eye opener that does not point to JDF controlled environments as the “end-all-be-all” solution. It is often discovered that problems are occurring in relation to communication problems that have nothing to do with the production management. Simple misunderstandings of requirements, what should be produced, by when and how much, cause a host of the issues that cost you money. In most cases the traditional approach to doing things has very efficient solutions in form of check lists, forms and processes. Keep in mind that the solution to your problems, whether computerized or not, can be integrated and beneficial even though it doesn’t create the enormous overhead and complexity of JDF enabled environments. Especially in smaller shops that need to be very flexible in changing their own standards or deviating from their own rules to get the job done an entirely computerized production system is likely to be counter productive. As a general rule: Any process is only as good as its ability to deviate from it.
Good business is based on good judgment. Therefore it would seem that business owners should use the “biggest bang for the buck” principal and implement tools, processes and technology that enable them to eliminate their weakest points and optimize their production while still allowing them to manage their business.
JDF is great – for the large mega printers with hundreds of jobs in large quantities produced every week.
JDF is good news – for the printing industry in general because it drives compatibility of vendors and enables data exchange between management systems and production equipment.
JDF has great potential – IF the expectations set in it are kept reasonable and the target stays clear.
JDF is not - a “cure-all” solution that lets you blindly trust that nothing will go wrong in your shop.
JDF does not – by itself – eliminate the production issues that cost you the most amount of money. It merely provides the tools to optimize the perceived “flawless” production workflow.
JDF is not simple, cheap or free! Especially small and medium sized shop owners will spend many, many times the amount of money they loose through production issues today before these technology based solutions finally improve anything.
JDF is a long term direction - because it requires a change in culture and skill set of the printing industry. It forces major capital investments of many companies that have trouble to make ends meet as it is.
Yes, JDF based solutions are available and are being improved … but are they affordable for
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