More than 40 solutions for the management side of your shop.
Sign Tracker, originally designed as an Excel-based program design for sign shops and graphics producers, is now being offered as an online Web application. Recent updates include improved sales tracking, project wizard, additional estimating tools for custom signs and service, and expanded dashboard with a "help and how-to" section.. It allows for customer management, estimating, accounting, inventory, project management, sales, scheduling, designing, and more.
Onsite 7 is an integrated business-management tool designed specifically for digital-print operations, screen printers, embroiderers, promotional product distributors, and award manufacturers. Onsite addresses sales functions, accounting functions, and production functions; new features include improved navigation tools, white-paper comparing; more user access control, attachments of any files to records, no file-size limits, custom order and design status, improved general-ledger accounting, and better workflow management.
Printer’s Plan is designed to allow print shops to prepare estimates, enter detailed work orders, and schedule, invoice, and collect receivables. Components include: Scheduler, TimeTracker, JobTracker (a visual presentation of where each job is in the shop), ShippingLabels, BarCode Support, and more. The e-business tool allows customers to place orders, request quotes, proof artwork, send receive files, track work in progress, and view job history.
Wasatch SoftRIP 6.7 includes the Wasatch Cost Estimator, designed to provide an accurate estimate of a job. Users can estimate costs for media, inks, and any additional post-production charges (media lamination, finishing sprays, grommets, etc.). Results can be exported to either a database-friendly format or directly to an HTML Web page.
Three tools of note are not traditional front-end business-and-management tools, but they can help you make your shop more efficient and, hence, profitable:
EskoArtwork’s (www.esko.com) i-cut Suite is a collection of pre-production software for users of large-format digital printers and/or digital finishing systems. The various i-cut Suite modules include: i-cut Preflight, which preflights incoming PDF data (corrections to the PDF file can be made without accessing the native design application); i-cut Layout, which builds and edits sheet layouts (for minimum waste, different jobs are grouped on one sheet for optimal material use); and i-cut Vision Pro, which ensures that die-less cutting contours match the printed images. Users can upgrade to advanced modules, including structural design, graphics preparation, and true-shape nesting.
The Inca Print Run Controller (PRC) software module from Inca Digital (www.incadigital.com), designed to run on a variety of Inca machines, lets users automate the scheduling and collation of versioned jobs in addition to reducing operator error and post-print collation requirements. PRC can assist in the production of orders incorporating different sizes, text variations, or languages. It can also be used when a large number of images need to be output in varying quantities with variable elements to a large number of recipients. The software can cut job changeover times with its ability to RIP once/output once or RIP once/output several times. Job scheduling can be managed in the studio before entering the shop. It’s fully compliant with PPML 2.10.
Onyx (www.onyxgfx.com), referenced in the main text, also offers PrepEdge Pro and PrepEdge. PrepEdge Pro v2.1 addresses job-preparation issues prior to print processing and includes features specific to large-format prep such as: one-click grommet placement; size, crop, and positioning tools; PDF editing tools; bleed and fold tools; complex tiling and template tools; fast contour-cut path generation; and a raster image-to-vector tool. The software also has built-in color-correction and management tools as well as a professional PDF editor. PrepEdge is an entry-level, job-preparation tool developed specifically for shops without access—or with limited access—to a professional designer to prepare print jobs.
In addition, various RIPs also offer features that address production- and workflow-efficiencies, and even some front-end business modules. Here’s a quick list of RIP companies that do not also appear in the main text (you can also check out bigpicture.net for a list of 40 third-party RIPs with detailed specs in our current Printer Sourcebook; search under “directories” in the main nav bar):
• CadLink: www.cadlink.com
• Caldera: www.calderagraphics.com
• ColorBurst: www.colorburst.com
• ColorGate: www.colorgate.com
• DigiFab: www.digifab.com
• Eisfeld Datenechnik: www.posterjet.com
• Four Pees: www.proofmaster.net
• Fusion: www.fusionsystems.com
• SCP Software: www.scp.de
• Valloy: www.topazrip.com