Dainippon Screen has long been a major player in digital workflow, with over 6,000 Trueflow sites around the world. By far the majority of these installations are in CTP offset environments but, as the Kyoto-based company moves deeper into digital press territory, a new workflow has emerged – Equios
As the name implies, Equios is a balanced, universal workflow. At its core is the tried and proven Trueflow SE from which it has evolved, but there is much more to this new universal workflow environment. Screen’s Northern Region manager Peter Scott says: “Equios links the offset and digital worlds in a way never before possible. It is such a versatile and scalable workflow, you can operate solely to CTP or solely to digital, or to both at many levels of functionality including variable data and even re-purposing files for HTML online publication. It’s really a complete business operating system that grows and adapts to a printer’s needs and never becomes obsolete. For example, every Screen Trueflow SE user now has a clear upgrade path to Equios, their original investment is still valid.”
But if a workflow described as universal is to live up to its name, it needs to be able to work together with other solutions such as MIS and situations where legacy rips, colour management and software are present. The Equios Partnership Programme commenced in 2009 to address just such open situations, and today has more than 30 companies signed up to it, including household names such as Adobe, Canon, Fuji Xerox, Hunkeler, Komori, Konica Minolta, Pitney Bowes, Ryobi, XMPie, X-Rite and many others.
“Naturally, wherever JDF is deployed in a printing business, Equios can integrate seamlessly all the way to the bindery,” says Scott, “ but there are many situations where only a close and trusted relationship with third-party suppliers can come up with a solution that is best for the customer. This is what the Equios Partnership Programme is all about – we provide an open standard interface to all partnership members. We recognise that not all output devices will be made by Screen and we will integrate with third party technology at both hardware and software levels.”
Versatile and Scalable
With print businesses today needing to be more versatile, perhaps printing a long offset run one shift and then several short runs the next, alongside wide format and variable data digital, the need to control production for maximum efficiency is greater than ever.
According to Screen, Equios is a true end-to-end workflow, in that it functions from the time the job is captured or created; web-to-print or design including variable data formes; through all intermediate stages of production, sending job data to any third-party MIS via Job Messaging Format, through to post-press and the bindery.
PDF files can be ripped to CTP setters, cutsheet digital presses, high volume variable data inkjet web presses, proofing devices, and now the internet with the introduction of Equios Online, which takes the proofed page data and reformats it in HTML5 for online use. All the time, a central dashboard can monitor and manage jobs – in a single view, operators can see what is going through their business. Advanced security features can enable ‘need to know’ access to others, including customers who might want to track the progress of their work, in much the same way that you can track a FedEx shipment online.
Recent developments for Screen’s Equois workflow include new colour management tools and editable Pantone and Pantone GOE libraries. This is particularly useful in digital printing where matches to PMS and custom spot colours are needed from CMYK. Smart impositioning is another advancement, drawing on the Pre4m impositioning software from Trueflow. Impositioning for accuracy and optimum paper use can be time-consuming, but smart impositioning automates most of the effort, saving time and money.
With Screen’s leading position in the high volume inkjet web sector, new Equois features have been introduced specifically for high speed variable transactional printing. A scalable load-balancing rip solution supports multiple parallel processors and allows Equois configurations to be scaled to maximise performance of any connected output device, including Screen’s Truepress Jet520ZZ , capable of printing 220 metres a minute in full colour at 720 x 360 dpi.
In variable data printing there are often recurring fixed text or graphic elements that, if ripped and re-ripped each time, can slow down production. Equios separates these out from PDFs and makes them available only when the variable content that accompanies them is ripped. This greatly reduces the load on the rip and delivers significant productivity gains.
“In hybrid offset/digital environments, we often see the same job being produced both ways,” says Scott, “a short advance run digitally, and the main run offset. With Equios colour correction tools, we can ensure that the digital output is matched to the offset output and indeed to any device connected to the network. Through our strong partnership with Adobe, we are using the PDF Print Engine in Equios.