A PDF Workflow Means Change !
2014 - The Situation
I know--there are lots of prepress people using PDF files successfully every day around the world, but I continue to find printing companies who are losing business because their prepress staffs refuse to change. Owners even invest in equipment especially designed for PDF use, but the staff isn't using it to its full potential. I keep finding a lot of people who don't want to change.
Stories I have heard in recent months about why a print shop isn't using PDF include:
"We tried a PDF file once and it didn't work."
"The colors were wrong in the PDF and you can't change it."
"The fonts are never included with the PDF."
"PDF always comes in one size 8.5 x 11."
"You can't fix bad graphics in PDF files."
Surprised? These statements are not uncommon. Yet printers who have adopted a PDF workflow are finding they have a distinct competitive advantage over their competitors who are still struggling to take a native file.
Still, vendors have to realize that the person they have to sell isn't the owner, but the prepress person. That individual is going to have to be shown just how PDF files can make their job easier and the workflow smoother. Vendors are going to have to put information in the hands of owners so the owners won't be held hostage during the buying decision. Vendors have to realize that the person they have to sell isn't the owner, but the prepress person.
So what should an owner do to help make PDF part of their company's workflow?
Begin by recognizing that without the proper plug-ins, PDF files can be very difficult to edit or correct. So owners must make sure that their prepress staff has the plug-ins they need to make Acrobat a real PDF-editing tool. Enfocus Pitstop, Quite A Box of Tricks and Quite Imposing Plus are just a few of the many plug-ins that edit PDF files or automate prepress tasks. Hundreds of other PDF plug-ins can be found on www.pdfzone.com or www.planetpdf.com.
Owners must realize that PDF files aren't perfect. Customers can mess up a PDF file just like they do native application files and the only answer is to replicate the file. This doesn't happen very often, but when it does it can shake the faith of the prepress staff.
Owners must train their staff. Many training opportunities are available from such varied sources as Graphic Arts Information Network (GAIN) (www.gain.net) and Prepress Training Solutions (www.prepresstraining.com or www.staffingtools.com) or at http://www.wagnerprintconsult.org. GAIN also offers some of the best practical advice available to printers through its bookstore. The recently updated "PDF Print Production Guide" is quickly becoming an industry standard reference book for printers who actual have to print PDF files. The PDF workflow will become common once the people who actually do the work embrace it.
PDF files do work.
The vendors aren't lying. The workflows do make prepress production easier. Yet there is a learning curve that the prepress staff and other production departments must go through if PDF files are to become valuable to a printer. Too many high-dollar workflow solutions are being underutilized because the prepress staff doesn't have the time to learn them.
The PDF workflow will become common once the people who actually do the work embrace it. Until then, owners will have to force change upon their organization. Using PDF files as a method to smooth the workflow can widen narrow profit margins.
It is all about change and change is hard.
Owners can change employee attitudes and work habits with the right tools and training. After a few successful output attempts with PDF files, the prepress staff will begin the change that means an easier way to do things with more profit.
RAINER WAGNER - PRINTING ENGINEER
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