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I take my coffee automated.

07.03.2018

Well, would you look at that? There is a barcode on my coffee pod. That particular coffee pod is a Nespresso® Elvazio. What the coffee maker does is read that barcode along the rim of the pod. From the barcode, the machine knows exactly how to brew that specific coffee. The correct settings for intended cup size, water temperature, speed at which to spin the pod, water flow rate and brew time are used by the Nespresso® machine. What that means to me is that I can enjoy any of the variety of coffees available without having to do anything more than push a button. Of course, I have to make sure there is water in the reservoir and a cup under the spout, but that is the extent of my hands-on setup time. Wouldn’t it be great if your microwave could scan the UPC on your steam-in-bag frozen veggies and know exactly how to cook them? Just imagine the space they could save on the packaging by not needing to print the instructions.

Let’s look back, for a moment. The first barcode was scanned at a Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, OH in 1974. The first product scanned on that monumental day in June was a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum. That pack of gum was so important; that is, the scanning of said gum; was so important that it resides in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. At its inception, the UPC barcode was a set of concentric circles. Can you believe that since the printing presses at the time could not reproduce the codes without smearing, it evolved into vertical lines which were less of a challenge for some of the WWI era presses still in use then? So, printing evolved the barcode and now the barcode has been evolving printing … and let’s not forget finishing.

You’re still thinking about that all too easy microwave, aren’t you?

Not unlike the barcodes on our coffee pods, the barcodes on our press sheets are used to call upon some settings. Settings which will be used by finishing equipment to cut, fold, stitch, stack, verify and otherwise control the jobs we process. We are reducing and removing setup time.

I want to take that stack of printed press sheets over to my cutter, scan the barcode and have the cutter know exactly how to cut the sheets. It would also be an incredible time saver to roll another stack over to my stitcher, scan the barcode and not have to perform any manual configuration. And while I’m at it, why couldn’t I just bring one stack of press sheets with multiple jobs in a variety of configurations to the finisher, let the machine read the barcode on each sheet and know precisely what to do with each job? You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Enter: JDF.

Finishing Automation

I’ll employ Ultimate Impostrip to create my impositions via hot folder. As it imposes, it creates a JDF file with all the details of the imposition. Then, with Ultimate Bindery standing by to digest that JDF, I’ll get an instruction set for any JDF ready device that I have in my shop. The device reads the barcode on the sheet, calls for the JDF instructions and just as simply as making a cup of coffee, it’s ready for me to push a button without having to do any configuration. Job after job consistency, cup after cup deliciousness. From one workstyle to the next, from one flavor to the next. Perfect setup each time and I didn’t even have to read the back of the frozen veggies to figure it out.

UPC codes made checking out at the cashier faster, easier and consistent. Barcodes with a side of JDF have the very same effect on finishing. So it would stand to reason that I would want to make choices that lead to efficient simplicity in all of my purchases. Whether it be a digital press, guillotine, stitcher, slitter or coffee maker; I need all of my equipment to know how to handle each job just by looking at it. I imagine the exchange goes something like this:

“Hello, Ultimate Bindery? I’ve read your barcode. Tell me exactly how to run this job. Thank you.” – signed your JDF friendly finisher.

Article By:
John Dean
Workflow Analyst
Ultimate TechnoGraphics Inc.

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