Beyond Printing – Automating processes to increase productivity

Konica Minolta introduces AccurioPro Flux, a tool for workflow automation.

Managing print workflows has always been the fundamental yet underrated part of a print process. As we embrace the age of Internet of Things (IoT), automation software is becoming a much sought-after tool to incorporate in the print room.

Allowing machines and software to take care of print and infrastructure processes has revealed multiple benefits, including cutting down time spent by operators in prepress, streamlining the print process, overall cost effectiveness and significantly decreasing production and turnaround time. It can also detect processing errors, and eventually improve the quality of print.

By now, we know this much – we could all use a print management solution. However, choosing a suitable print management software is not the most straightforward decision. There are plenty of solutions out in the market, but there are limitations.

With existing workflow solutions in the market, users likely have to purchase multiple third party tools to service the entire print process. For example, MIS integration would require a different software to a web store. Most workflow software also does not link operators directly to different machines, so users are not able to maximize the use of all printers in the work room. Pre-flight checks tend to take up a large amount of the operator’s time, and most print shops do not have an interface for customers to submit their print jobs through a web platform.

Central reprographics departments (CRDs) or in-house in-plants constantly face strong pressures to meet fast turnarounds against high printing demands. Moreover, there is the need to provide consistent colour services, more value-added print services, and eliminate outsourcing.

The Flexible Automation Software series – AccurioPro Flux

To combat these issues, Konica Minolta introduces AccurioPro Flux, a series of workflow solution software that targets CRDs, print service providers (PSPs), and in-house print shops of schools, companies and public organisations. Konica Minolta has developed the technology to enable the customer to automate and streamline operations, expand print service offerings, and meet requests for quick turnarounds on high-quality digital prints.

There are three modules of the AccurioPro Flux; the Essential module contains all a print room needs for prepress and makeready management, Premium includes a server to enable collaboration between clients and the print team, and the Ultimate version adds a web-to-print function.

AccurioPro Flux increases productivity in several ways. At its core, the series of software aims to provide users with a more efficient prepress workflow by automating recurring tasks. The software utilises load balancing to minimise the manual labour required to conventionally sync colour and mono printouts. Load balancing means that users can maximize the use of different printers to achieve greater efficiency by distributing the load intelligently without human intervention. Pre-flight checks tend to take up a large amount of the operator’s time. Flux has an affordable integrated make-ready function decreases time spent on pre-flight test.

A key differentiator of Flux is that it enables third party integration and centralized control of production printers on the print floor. This meant that Flux can seamlessly communicate with different brands of printers and allow users to increase utilization of lose machines. Flux will enable users to leverage different printer capabilities to maximize output on the print floor.

AccurioPro Flux Essential – Prepress and Output

The AccurioPro Flux Essential is the entry level product of the print automation software series. This module offers tools for efficient prepress processes, namely in the automation of recurring tasks and centralized control of all production machines. Within the software, there is a ready-to-use make-ready tool so that users don't have to switch to a separate app to do some editing. The software is able to do a basic preflight check, detecting printing problems due to incorrect PDF files, missing fonts, images with low resolution and transparencies. The integration of third party devices meant that the user can centrally control all machines in the print room – including machines from other manufacturers.

AccurioPro Flux Premium – Automation and Collaboration

On top of offering the features as the Essential module, the AccurioPro Flux Premium offers a server designed for even greater automation and collaboration. Users will be able to work from anywhere with the Premium app, whether from a PC, Mac, or even a mobile device. Users will also be able to process print jobs assigned to the machine directly on the printer via the Flux Panel, be it checking, previewing or editing the jobs. Besides just detecting printing errors, the flux server can link with 3rd party system such as ERP and MIS for a more streamline process.

Premium’s server inclusion facilitates collaboration amongst members of a team, as every operator can have a personal account and different operators can work at different workstations simultaneously. This module also allows users to link the Flux server and their B2C online print shop via open API to exchange information, Flux will then process the print jobs accordingly. Clients are easily kept in the loop via email updates automatically as soon as a print step is completed.

AccurioPro Flux Ultimate – Web-to-Print

The Ultimate version of the AccurioPro Flux software includes a web-to-print function. The online shop feature allows clients to submit their orders online 24/7. A preflight check and previews function allows client-uploaded documents to be automatically checked, equating to lesser to and fro communication in printing issues. The flux Document Converter allows uploading of up to 300 different file formats to the web-to-print portal, this means that users don’t have to be restricted to specific file formats or convert their files unnecessarily. Clients will also be able to check on the status of their print anything on the online platform. For companies using Active Directory for authentication, the online shop can be integrated easily into their IT environments.

First published in Issue 01/2020 of Print Innovation Asia.

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