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Prepress Robotics

(October 2011) posted on Tue Sep 27, 2011

Find out how making an automated assembly line in your prepress department can help boost quality, productivity, and morale.

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By Mike Ruff

Managing the color to maximize the accuracy of expected results Automating all the movement of the file saves time, but the biggest payoff from the automation can be the automated color control. Other industries have done it. Some in this industry are so predictable from input to output that the color accuracy they output is amazing. Assuming the file has been standardized, based in process-control and conformance specifications, the output of color compared to the input file can be done by robotics.

A PDFX-4 file contains all the information we need. If we have standardized our print device (screen or digital), we also know what our printer will do with a certain ink line on a certain media. That means robotics can automatically assign the right device-link profile to the file to get accurate color as long as we train the people to remain predictable in their output. Many say this is impossible, but they’re wrong. It is possible when we set up process-control and conformance standards (visit for more about these standards). This is important to maximize prepress robotics and become as close to a manufacturing process as we can.

The file is simply moved by the robot to color management. The file contains the embedded source profile telling us the intent of the file. Mr. Robot quickly thumbs through his little list of device-link profiles, slaps a little instruction packet on the file, and drags the file to the queue for printing.

If we have set up prepress robotics correctly, we’ll have increased the productivity of the human work force by at least 30% and our accuracy by at least 50%. A little bit of accuracy makes a big difference.
Larry Steinmetz, president of Boulder, CO-based Hi-Yield Management, Inc., does profitability consulting and training. He has a Ph.D. in business administration, is on the board of directors of several companies throughout the United States, and is the author of 13 books. He also operates four small businesses at this time. I have followed Larry’s teaching for more than 30 years. If you ever get a chance to attend his seminars, it will be well worth your time. He has a simple formula that shows the danger of losing margin. The Steinmetz Formula:

Overhead (GS&A) ÷ Gross Margin% - Variable Expense% = BE


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