MIS software specialist Tharstern has launched a new tool called Layout Library, which allows printers to teach their MIS how to lay down impositions in the correct way for their equipment and processes.
Layout Library removes the need for prepress to manually adjust or change the impositions sent down by the MIS. Keith McMurtrie, managing director at Tharstern, says, “MIS-to-prepress connectivity is pivotal to automation and, while there have been great strides made in this area, it has still always felt like all of the knowledge was held in prepress and the MIS was only sending a rough idea of the imposition layout for prepress to interpret and make good.
“On the whole, that did work, but one of the challenges that has remained unconquerable in our opinion is change control. When prepress make changes to an imposition, the integrity of the workflow is broken and feedback about job status and costing is nearly impossible. Some prepress systems have gone a long way in trying to communicate this information back to the MIS but honestly, it’s typically too late or too difficult to flush that information into the relevant areas for each job. There are just too many implications.” said.
McMurtrie that, after years of workflow deployment experience where Tharstern repeatedly had to deal with the damage caused by these exceptional situations, the team at Tharstern came to the conclusion that it would need to fix the problem further upstream, at the MIS level. It would need to find a way to ensure that the MIS sent the correct imposition downstream.
He says, “The problem with automatic impositions created by an MIS solution, is that they follow industry standards and best practice, but each and every company we work with has so many variables and personal preferences that affect how they want to lay down their impositions, that we’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t an automatic one-size-fits-all way to do this. What people seem to want in an automatic production route is for the MIS to come up with the layout that they would have selected manually.”
He says Tharstern has achieved this with Layout Library. While the MIS will still create dynamic impositions automatically, it now has added functionality to teach the software about any exceptions to the rules. Printers can tell their MIS exactly how to lay down different products and different parts, and can control all the flipping and rotating of their signatures and sheets to fit in with their equipment and workflow.
They can make allowances for non-printable regions for slow-down wheels, flex signature and sheet sizes automatically and also support variable cut-off cut-star type equipment. These Layout Profiles are then assigned product types and criteria, for example, substrate, run length, orientation and grain direction, so the estimating engine within Tharstern knows which imposition to select for that product type and situation.
The layouts can be associated with different equipment, for example, one imposition for digital and one for litho, one imposition for a booklet maker and one for conventional binding. And operators can set different layouts for situations where they need a different imposition because of some other post-press process such as die-cutting.