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PRINTWEEK ME & MY MACHINE- Sally Cousins
© Haymarket Business Publications

The Company of Biologists (CoB) in Cambridge has been running since 1925 and was set up as an educational charity mainly as an outlet for scientists to demonstrate to other scientists the benefits of their studies. The company installed Workflow Solutions’ PageFusion software to allow its publications to be created with greater efficiency.

CoB promotes biological research by financing three journals as well as other scientific publications. The journals Development the Journal of Cell Science and the Journal of Experimental Biology - have a worldwide audience. 

CoB has been using the PageFusion as a way of supplying ”digital film” since April, when the company went CTP, and is delighted with the way it has improved the proofing process. PageFusion is designed to turn assembled, separated CMYK jobs into PDFs for proofing and final output. It runs on its own server as an unattended background operation.

This involves taking output from layout programs or OPI servers, ripping files to bitmap and converting them into production and proof-ready PDF 1.2 files. According to Alan Alderson, origination manager at CoB, PageFusion has helped considerably in smoothing the production process of the three journals. He says: ”We receive files, text and pictures from all over the world. We use around 160 to 170 illustrations across the three magazines every fortnight.” 

The company was previously using a Harlequin-based RIP outputting film on an Agfa image-setter. Now it is using the same Harlequin-based RIP with an Agfa Galileo platesetter, which was installed in January and up and running in April.

Initially CoB had a problem with trapping, which led to the installation of the PageFusion. Alderson says: ”We were aware of the PageFusion workflow from the beginning and were keen to install it because we knew that it would meet our needs.” 

The company trialled the system before fully committing itself. ”After we purchased it we ran a number of tests. We compared it to our old method and there was no loss of quality. That was the key thing - we had to have the same quality. After looking at what the PageFusion would enable us to do it convinced us that there would be no problem in handling data.” 

PageFusion has streamlined the production of the firm’s journals. Alderson comments: ”It cuts out so much hassle. You don’t have to pre-flight the data because it converts everything to PDF.”

During the buying process CoB looked at other systems but preferred what PageFusion had to offer. ”We felt Page- Fusion was the best way to go because we were offered good service and plenty of support if we felt that we needed it. It was the right way forward for us to make the production of our magazines more efficient.” 

The system was in operation quickly and was found to be easy to use. Alderson says: ”It is so simple to operate. It is on a stand-alone computer and you can just set it up and forget about it, which is an impressive feature. It doesn’t need any operator intervention. We feed PostScript files through, one after another, and PageFusion copes.” 

The move to PageFusion has allowed CoB to stop using film. Alderson says: ”It also enables us to remove chemicals from the process as we are now CTP.” 

Two Heidelberg Speedmaster presses are used. Alderson says: ”With the PDF output you can see what you are going to get in print. We have introduced a proofing stage so that you can see how it is going to look. This means that there is less delay for the press because the work has already been checked - so there is no checking at the final stage.” 

Alderson has been pleased with the service that he received from Workflow Solutions. The company offers CoB on-site service as well as telephone support should a problem arise. 
CoB originally found the file naming unusual, although it didn’t take long for the workers to get to grips with the software. Alderson says: ”We found that because we work with a 15pp document the PageFusion separates that into 15 separate files with the same name but prefixes each one with a digit. We are now used to working with the system this way.” 

The PageFusion is used for around six hours a day. ”It can handle everything we throw at it”, says Alderson. 

The software has enabled the company to produce all the plates in-house for its presses. Previously it was outsourcing the making of some of its plates when especially busy, which involved lots of quality checking to ensure that they met CoB’s standards. Alderson says: ”We have a unique set-up here and we were often worried about sending out film, but now we have complete control.”

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