Thursday, December 17, 2009

iPhone Prepress - Australia style

Dwane Hollands of Hollands Print Solutions Australia ( has what is likely one of the most unique workflows in the business – he can manage his prepress via iPhone.
At his current imaging speed he can do 12 plates an hour with two plate cassettes dedicated to his four colour Sakurai A2 machine. That equates to about 120 plates (60 plates per cassette) and, all things going well, he could drive a 10 hour, lights-out shift until his CtP ran out of plates and required human intervention.

However, his concern was about what would happen if something goes wrong and plate output stops during the night shift after the last person leaves the building. So he came up with a way to monitor the CtP Controller while he is off site. Since Kodak installs a VNC server on the Controller so they can dial in and operate the machine for remote servicing, Dwane took the same route and downloaded a free VNC client for his iPhone. At first he connected via Hollands' internal WiFi network and was able to log onto the VNC Server for the Magnus CtP controller. He then took it up a notch by implementing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection. With that setup he can click on windows and use menus. Zoom in using the pinch out and pan with his finger. He has also connected via the 3G network using his VPN and was again able to view and interact with the Magnus controller. The beauty of the VPN method is that he can connect to any VNC machine on the network - including his Matchprint and Prinergy Servers. On Leopard Macs, such as his iMac, he's able to simply switch on "Screen Sharing" to enable remote control, so it's cross platform as well.

While there are some teething issues (it disconnects after 6 or 7 minutes) he thinks the likely cause is his lack of VPN expertise or the free software he is using. That being said, as it currently operates, it's completely effective for the company's needs as it only takes about 30 seconds to see if the machine is still outputting plates, or if it requires a shop visit to fix the problem. Ironically enough, at the moment the only thing stopping Hollands from running a lights out night shift is the fact that someone lives next to their factory and the compressor for the CtP is quite loud and runs frequently. Even so, now there's nothing stopping Dwane from working 24/7 from anywhere he finds himself.

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