Fujifilm has recently announced that its XMF Workflow portfolio can now be fully integrated with both the EFI Pace and Tharstern Management Information Systems, but what exactly does this mean in practice?
Fujifilm does offer a base MIS/JDF level of integration for XMF that covers the basics but works with MIS vendors when customers need a deeper degree of integration. In practical terms, this means a print service provider paying for some bespoke software to be written to enable the two programs to communicate. But of course, when this has been done once, then the next installation that involves the same software should be much smoother.
So essentially what Fujifilm is announcing here is that it has completed installations that involve these two MIS so that future installations involving these combinations of software should be much easier. But it’s worth noting that integration between complex software such as prepress workflows and MIS is never going to be a plug and play process, partly because of the nature of the software, but mostly because individual print service providers just have their own way of doing things and are looking to get different things out of each implementation as John Davies, Workflow Product Group Manager for Fujifilm Graphic Systems Europe, points out: “The extent of how much information is supplied to XMF Workflow varies not only between which MIS is used but also to how different customers want to use their MIS.”
Naturally, since there are considerable differences in the way that both these MIS work, the integration with the Fujifilm system yields different benefits. Thus with EFI Pace, there’s a complete two-way end-to-end workflow integration. The Pace software uses feedback from the XMF workflow to automatically carry out all the pre-press job plan activities in its PrintFlow scheduling module so that it can submit jobs directly to XMF, where they can be automatically processed. Once done, XMF sends information about the production timings and the number of plates used back to the MIS so that Pace can report the cost of the job complete with the plate utilisation.
The Pace MIS also forms the backbone of EFI’s Midmarket Productivity Suite, which includes a number of other components such as the Digital StoreFront web-to-print, Metrix for layouts and ProcessShipper for fulfilment. Indeed, EFI is hoping that the integration between all these components will make them more attractive to customers. Clemens Wurster, EFI’s European product manager for Pace, says that Pace acts as the hub for all these and handles communications to XMF for them. This means that a customer might place an order through Digital StoreFront, with the job actually created in Pace, but planned and scheduled in PrintFlow and then forwarded to XMF.
Davies says that now that Fujifilm has certified the integration with Pace, it will be easier to maintain the integration as both products evolve. He also notes that Fujifilm already has integrations in place with other EFI MIS, including Technique and Gamsys.
Fujifilm has already carried out a number of integrations with Tharstern so that the links between XMF and the Tharstern MIS have evolved over time. So this integration gives users automated production direct from the MIS system into the XMF Workflow. But here additional PDF content can be attached to an MIS job, with the help of automatic page assignment for future reference purposes. This should help streamline the delivery of artwork throughout the organisation, and allows old jobs to be visible after they have been archived and deleted from within XMF, which is handy for web-to-print workflows in particular.
The Tharstern integration also allows print jobs to be created automatically in the MIS and pushed directly into XMF, including the full job description, customer details, product details and imposition requirements. This in turn lets users select XMF job templates based on existing templates, which can be picked automatically using criteria within the MIS though XMF templates can also be selected from within the MIS when creating the job.
Davies says: “We have had the ability to take in print jobs from MIS systems since XMF was first introduced in 2007, but integrating with the Tharstern and EFI Pace MIS systems marks a significant step forward. XMF can now provide customers with the best opportunity to stay ahead of the competition and maximise profit potential, automating processes and giving them full control of the flow of information throughout production.”