Interview: Automation is not witchcraft


The automation of processes is the result of standardization. The goal is to streamline processes or scale a business model. Every media designer who works with open data, regardless of format, knows that countless parameters have to be addressed. Among professionals, this in itself does not always go smoothly. But if the data comes from a system that is foreign to prepress, then the sorcerer’s apprentice needs an experienced master to ensure that the flood of data doesn’t wash him away. One such master is Peter Kleinheider from calibrate. He and his team do a lot of preliminary work to ensure that automation succeeds. It is not witchcraft, but a lot of experience, meticulous preparatory work, coordination of all parties involved and, of course, programming work.  

Peter Kleinheider, who first used a Canon colour copier to output a colour proof in 1990 and founded calibrate Workflow-Consulting GmbH in 2015, has extensive experience in automating prepress workflows. He is a recognized expert and contributes his experience to various expert panels. 2021 saw the release of the new Radix API with the development stages Preflight, Prepare, Create and Translate. We asked Peter Kleinheider for an interview so that others in the printing industry can benefit from his knowledge. An exciting conversation with someone who prefers to work rather than talk.

Max Spies: Generally speaking, where does the data that you have to process come from?
Peter Kleinheider: The data for output on different media can come from a web store with or without an editor, but equally an ERP, PIM, MAM or DAM system can be the source.

Max Spies: The goal is the trouble-free, automatic and digital process, right? But how does communication succeed when everyone is speaking a different language
Peter Kleinheider: Correct! Opening up and connecting the systems is the challenge. We encounter this challenge in every project. However, the solution to the problem is almost always different. It is important to understand that digitization follows the analogue path. If this path is very complex, digitization also becomes a complex issue.

Max Spies: Do you have some kind of translator or map or master plan?
Peter Kleinheider: A little bit of everything, I would say. Above all, we are a team and work very closely with Impressed GmbH. They offer solutions for media production and digital prepress. Callas, Adobe, Colorlogic and Enfocus technologies are the base from which to start and subsequently develop efficient applications. Calibrate contributes software and services.

Max Spies: So, it’s similar to car tuning? I buy a BMW and you make it more beautiful and faster?
Peter Kleinheider: Yes, something like that. We’ll even install an autopilot for you.

Max Spies: Can you explain your range of services and software in more detail?
Peter Kleinheider: Customers want someone who takes responsibility. That’s where it starts. Calibrate offers services as a whole project or in a sub-project. We call this the Radix Project. Here we define which software components are needed off-the-shelf or from the Radix product portfolio.

Radix Project thus creates the conditions for networking with the options of consulting, support and know-how. The Radix Preflight Engine provides automated checks and corrections in the production process. The Radix Translate module establishes the interface between data sender and data receiver. Finally, Radix Prepare prepares the data for different printing processes. This module can be extended as required by Radix Impose for rule-based assembly of the print products for cost- and production-optimized output, and by Radix Create for dynamic generation of PDFs for the print output or corresponding accompanying material.

Max Spies: Well, that was a little fast for me. Can I read that somewhere?
Peter Kleinheider: Yes, of course, we have just completed a white paper for each of our modules. You and of course everybody else can download it as a PDF from our website and read the information about the modules in detail.

Max Spies: The drama starts in the process when the PDF data does not match the meta information. For example: I order DIN A4+ and send a PDF exactly 210 x 297 mm. Bang! How does Radix help me?
Peter Kleinheider: If the PDF data does not conform to the specified meta information, the information is sent immediately. It is now possible to make the corrections yourself or to have radixAPI Preflight correct the data automatically. Calibrate Radix is faster than any user and works around the clock. Radix core functions include data comparison TARGET/ACTUAL, definition of notes, warnings and stops, automatic application of corrections to PDFs, automatic preparation of PDFs for different printing processes, electronic sheet assembly or LFP preparation such as hemstitch production or the application of eyelet dots.

Max Spies: But it quickly becomes very specialized.
Peter Kleinheider: Yes, and every project has its own requirements. It’s always about a customized environment for automation in the respective company. We implement the jointly developed concepts directly. Generally speaking, you can say that we address the areas of colour management, checking and correction, assembly, dynamic PDF generation and finishing with Radix.

Max Spies: When I hear colour management, checking and correction, etc. in connection with standardization, keywords like templates or profiles always come to mind. Job tickets are somewhat like the ticket for the data, aren’t they?
Peter Kleinheider: Absolutely. We speak of a complete template when all the parts needed for production are known. The process in which print data and product definition are brought together is complicated, but it can be mastered with the calibrate masterProfile because the influencing factors are known. A template thus defines all the necessary corrections, checks, exceptions and named features. The calibrate master profile comes with a number of predefined templates for ISO standards such as PDF/X-1a or PDF/X-4, but also for industry standards such as GWG 2015 or pdfxReady 2.0. For customers who do not require PDF/X files, we supply templates that define the requirements for a printable PDF and always check a minimum level of quality.

In principle, it is possible to pass a job ticket to the calibrate master profile. A job ticket defines the product intentions such as dimensions, number of pages, number of colours, printing conditions and other specific settings. Based on this information, the calibrate masterProfile automatically activates and configures all necessary checks.

Max Spies: I once learned, among other things, printer/offset (it was a long time ago). Why don’t you illustrate this with an example?
Peter Kleinheider: Let’s stick to your format topic from before. A flyer in DIN A 5 format is required. According to the data delivery requirement, a 3 mm bleed is necessary. A PDF from Adobe Photoshop is delivered, which was created in DIN A4 format including bleed.

In Photoshop, only one format is possible per file. In this case the PDF has a dimension of 220 x 307 mm. The calibrate master profile recognizes that this is probably an A4 document that was created with 5 mm bleed. The DIN A4 format is thus scaled proportionally to DIN A5, taking the 5mm bleed into account.

If the file would have been created correctly in the format DIN A5, but without bleed, the calibrate master profile has four different methods to add the required 3 mm bleed by means of correction. If the format had not been recognized, then the calibrate masterProfile would be prompted to report the error to the user.

Max Spies: That’s very clever! There are completely different challenges in large format print. Is there also such a master profile here?
Peter Kleinheider: Yes, you’re right – for example, the hemstitch production of a double-sided printed product. It takes quite a bit of know-how to take hemstitching into account at the top left and right, as well as eyelets and edge reinforcement at the bottom. Posters on stenter frames are also exciting in the truest sense of the word. For this purpose, material is used that is stretched when mounted on the frame. It is therefore necessary to reduce the size of the printed image depending on the final edge length. This is the only way to ensure that, for example, a circle is once again recognizable as a circle after stretching and does not deform into an oval. The master profile allows scaling values to be stored for different materials and edge lengths, which are then applied during processing.

Max Spies: Quite a lot of data is moved in the prepress stage. Do I need a monster server, or does it all run in a cloud?
Peter Kleinheider: The applications can be installed in a commercial cloud, in a private cloud or on existing servers on-premises. The decisive factor is where the storage-intensive data is located or where it comes from.

Max Spies: Finally, why the name Radix?
Peter Kleinheider: We needed a name for our product consisting of service and software to make it easier to communicate with customers. Radix comes from Latin and means “root” in botany. In chemistry, the neo-Latin word radix stands for a functional group. That appealed to us. The functions of the radix group provide a solid foundation for the process, a deep root.

Max Spies: I know you’re far from finished with your Latin, but I’ll read through the white papers now.
Peter Kleinheider: I highly recommend it! If you have any questions afterwards, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Max Spies: Thank you very much and good luck with the automation.

calibrate Workflow-Consulting GmbH
St. Pöltnerstraße 26 / A-3130 Herzogenburg

calibrate is the central contact for companies with media production – PDF WorkflowAutomation, integration, training, service and support from one source. calibrate offers consulting, project definition, project support as well as realization and implementation of individual requirements. 

Interview: Automation is not witchcraft
Article Name
Interview: Automation is not witchcraft
The automation of processes is the result of standardization. The goal is to streamline processes or scale a business model. Every media designer who works with open data, regardless of format, knows that countless parameters have to be addressed. Among professionals, this in itself does not always go smoothly. But if the data comes from a system that is foreign to prepress, then the sorcerer's apprentice needs an experienced master to ensure that the flood of data doesn't wash him away.
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Max Spies, a true professional, is a printing technician and business economist. As an ERP specialist at zipcon consulting GmbH, he researches throughout the entire value-added chain and delves into the depths of the company's divisions. People, processes, and tools are equally important to him in his observations. With curiosity, backbone, and a healthy dose of the Allgäu's fighting spirit, he is able to gather information. His comprehensible expertise is the basis for result-oriented concepts in customer projects. Max Spies has been in the printing industry for 35 years, worked as a journalist for "Deutscher Drucker" and writes guest articles for the trade magazines "Druckmarkt" and "Grafische Revue Österreich". Prior to joining zipcon, he worked for an ERP software provider in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and is an active networker in this economic region. (Profiles also at Xing, LinkedIn)

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