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The Realities of Implementing Computer-to-Screen Imaging

(September 2006) posted on Sun Sep 10, 2006

Coudray reveals his own experiences with a CTS system, and how he restructured his garment-pritning business around the technology.

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By Mark A. Coudray

I was beginning to think we had created a monster. The staff was doing an incredible job of trying to hold it together. After all, my key people have all been with me for more than 20 years each. They knew the old ways perfectly and showed true bravery in embracing this radical, new approach. That only goes so far. We've operated a very controlled business for many years. I don't like surprises, and I never want to disappoint a client because of a screw up. But where we may have made one or two mistakes, we were now making a dozen. Most were small, involving timing approvals and change orders, but the handwriting was on the wall. The system was creaking and groaning under the weight of the new workload. It was only going to get worse. And it did.

We built this digital workflow on top of our old database and ran it over a cobbled together LAN of 10BaseT and 100BaseT Ethernet connections. Most of our Macs ran Gigabit Ethernet, but the switches we used throttled the speed way down. We're not network administrators. We all knew enough to make the system work, and that's just the way it had been for years. Our setup was adequate for what we were doing, and nobody seemed to notice irregularities in the data flow. Our first clues appeared as the high network traffic began to get slower and slower. Moving files around seemed to take forever.

We shuffled more and more files between multiple workstations and various RIPs and imagesetters. Nothing was balanced or optimized. We had never checked individual machines or individual connections. On top of this, we'd been collocating our server at a local ISP, and it had been running for years relatively unattended. All of a sudden, I was learning about PINGing, hops, half and full duplexing, and a host of other network-related buzzwords. I very quickly found the need for new switches, routers, and servers. These things weren't even on the radar when I first considered the CTS purchase.


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