TechnologyAutomation Engine Connect
Even though the printing industry has been pushing for greater connectivity, not all systems are JDF, or even XML, compliant. And even if they are, it does not mean that data from one system maps out correctly to another system. As a result, when the print provider wishes to tie the production workflow in to outside systems--ERP, MIS, Web-to-print, shipping systems, etc.--challenges often arise because they all have their own dialect.
This usually requires, for just about any other workflow, customized programming to create a way to connect systems together. However this solution is expensive, not sustainable, and a service risk (the system development may not survive the system update). System architects would have to look at the systems, determine how to build the application, and create the integration.
While JDF and XML mapping are reasonably easy, Automation Engine Connect supports other data formats (for example csv) as well. This allows all job information and metadata--from pricing to quantities to production-related info, to costing--to move to and from systems from one interface. In fact, some companies use the csv mapping not only for production, but to convert and send data to and from different third-party systems that would not be connected otherwise, using Connect solely as the data hub.
According to one judge, "I expect this type of technology to become widespread since it lowers the IT hurdle to make different systems communicate with each other."
Esko wanted to significantly reduce the cost on integration for its consumer base. They accomplished this with Automation Engine Connect. It is the only toolkit offered specifically by a workflow vendor expressly developed to integrate other disparate business systems. Automation Engine Connect offers:
- A framework for all business components that need integration into Automation Engine.
- A toolkit that allows integration from a third party product with an Esko component.
- Ability for MIS, web stores, finance and shipping systems, and more to integrate into the workflow.
- A scalable solution that is customizable with solution services, but there is no need for custom development. If the business invests in more or new systems, Connect can easily make sure these systems are integrated into Automation Engine.
- A sustainable solution that requires no reliance on the creator of the system to maintain it.
- Easy installation--"This technology takes away the complexity--you don't need a high-level technician to run it," one judge said.
With Automation Engine Connect, manual processes like re-typing business and production data into the workflow are eliminated. And, while that is easy with JDF-compatible systems, it is now possible with applications that have much more complex integration issues. This, of course, eliminates errors by ensuring all information is sent automatically to another system rather than manually. Initial reports indicate the order entry process is reduced by as much as 50 percent, and the risk of errors--always an expensive proposition to printers--is reduced to nearly zero.
This also allows brand owners who now have access to Automation Engine to work 24/7. They are able to share or submit job information any time from systems that operate workflows in the background. There is no need for a data entry person to type any information. The end user sends the job into the system by uploading files, provides job information, and gives the system permission to execute. The process is much less expensive and seamless to the printer.