25 June 2017 Print Companies

Howard Hunt makes workflow switch to increase automation

Dartford direct mail printer has changed to a Fuji XMF workflow, increasing the level of automation possible.

Six months after switching to a Fuji XMF production workflow, Howard Hunt is expanding the system to link with its Imprint MIS. This has in turn been extended though integration to matchIT software to improve the level of automation at the Dartford business.

Technology director Stuart King says the company has used Fujifilm plates but had rejected XMF when it first looked two years ago. At the time he explains the workflow was highly page specific, focusing on the needs of magazine and brochure printers rather than the different requirements of direct mail.

“The way it handled incoming files into imposition was great for magazine work,” he says. “But with DM there are lots of changes or format and plate changes and it did not handle that particularly well.” That has changed as the software has evolved and King felt confident that Fujifilm’s service, proven on supply of plates, would continue for the workflow. Even so he ran three days of testing using live jobs at Fujifilm’s UK head office.

At the end of the year, Howard Hunt began installation running a parallel workflow at first and then one where existing jobs came through the legacy system while new jobs were processed in the XMF workflow. The period of parallel workflows has now ended.

Incoming files are colour managed in XMF Colourpath, jobs signed off in XMF Remote and files passed via Enfocus Switch to Metamation for imposition. Enfocus has also been used to relay information to the MIS so that it can calculate the share of the cost to be attributed to each job or element of a job on the sheet.

“Imprint and XMF should communicate with each other. That should not be difficult,” he adds.

Processing speed has improved on complex jobs, something that was evident while running dual workflows. More needs to be done to improve the automation that is possible, now a year after starting to look at which workflow would best meet the company’s roadmap, that is in sight.

The link from Imprint MIS to MatchIT’s SQL database is also improving processing time by removing the need for manually directed file movement. This was necessary to check the integrity of incoming data files. The integration has automated this. “A new job in our previous stack took 36 minutes; by integration Imprint with MatchIT we have been able to under four minutes,” says King.

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Stuart King

Stuart King

Howard Hunt has been upgrading its IT systems, with a Fujifilm XMF inaugurated over the last six months now being linked to its Imprint MIS.

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