Job tickets - mockups - and general workflow questions.


Well-known member
Hi all,

It's been a while since i last posted, or even visited the forum.

I 've got a couple of questions and i really hope to have your insight here.

We are trying to reconfigure the production workflow, in a midsize plant.

We do offset, digital, some wide format, bindery ( except sewn books ), lamination, uv, hot foils, die cutting, almost everything a commercial printshop might do.

With a lot of problems.

So starting from the job tickets, do you use a single job ticket for print and bindery?

We print one, which follows the job throughout production circle, but:

People get confused with all the info and at the end of the day don't read it at all.

Parts of a job are printing while others are in bindery, or in different stages of bindery etc.

Printing double tickets gets things more confused, those who do the folding for example don't know how many sheets have been printed hope you get the picture.

How do you manage?

Another one :

Do you print mock ups for every job?

For an 80 pages A4 sewn book, would you need to print a mock up to check the imposition, bleeds etc or you simply rely on your prepress checks?

Is the mock up color accurate so the printer can trust it, or do you print a separate proof?

Or - depending on the job - no proof at all?

- talking about offset runs -

I personally believe that each job - even the most simple - should go to the printer, with some kind of hard proof.

Last one - for today -

Does your printers check the job ticket numbers, or print just as written?

For example we want 10000 A4 leaflets, we need 1250 8up sheets, but the job tickets mistakenly writes to print 2500 sheets, do you believe that the printer should check the numbers before starts printing?

Or fold the first page of a flat to check if it's matches the mock up given?

Thanks in advance!
We use Printer's Plan for our job ticketing and docket writing. I'm not a big fan of it, mostly because it sandwiches all the job info into a small space and it is easy to miss key information. Generally when I'm printing, I just check what the total quantity needed is and calculate it myself based on how many up on a sheet the job can output to, plus some overs depending on what kind of additional finishing work needs done. At the last company I was at we used an older system that did a much better job at separating the docket into sections for printing/bindery and shipping, making it easy for each department to focus on what their responsibility was.

Generally we print a mockup, or pull a sample from a previous run if possible. If it's a full length book, we just print the first couple of pages, or a numbering job, we just print one sheet to highlight the numbered area, for example.
I can't speak to all of your issues so some of this won't help you but some might.
I think it really depends on your workflow. When and where things are getting imposed vs. printed and what kind of print shop you are.
  • We are a short run, digital only print shop with a fast turnaround time (2 days on most items, 80% is produced in less than 24hrs). We've had to simplify our procedures because we just don't do the volume on most jobs to justify a lot of the steps that longer runs would require.
  • We don't provide color guarantees at all because we generally don't have the time to do a color proofs. We make sure our customers know upfront that colors will shift from job to job, run to run, printer to printer, day to day.
  • We also don't do design work in-house - because we don't want to :p even if it makes good business sense. The customers that need this we send to other local shops we trust that want to provide that service.
Our Philosophy: Mistakes are okay, repeated mistakes are not. We want employees to think about mistakes in light of how to prevent them moving forward.

We try really hard to reduce the places where mistakes can happen BUT at the same time, we need people to be trained to look for information. There is a balance between overproviding information so people stop thinking and underproviding information so mistakes get made because people are assuming things. For this reason, our printers do have to do the math on their own for final quantity counts. We want them thinking - The majority of employees that we lose or have to let go are the ones who are too smart. IE. They pickup on things fast but around Month 3 they get overconfident and start skipping steps. This leads to mistakes, if we can't break them out of autopilot we end up having to let them go because they make the same mistakes over and over because they aren't thinking or can't learn from them.

Pre-press - The person printing is provided with a print ready PDF file from pre-press. Pre-press has checked margins and alignment. These employees are generally people who excelled at printing and then we trained them on basic Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop (to add bleeds) and InDesign. They have already seen nearly everything at this point and know what not to do to make printing/finishing hard.
Printing - Uses fiery impose to impose the PDF file using a corresponding template already stored. These individuals rarely know how to use the graphics software so if something prints/looks wrong they send it back to prepress to fix (if prepress can't fix they go back to customer).
Finishing - These are generally our least trained employees - almost everyone in our shop started here, even if they're already know photoshop/InDesign. It's useless to have them in prepress if they make everyone else's job too hard. If they're good at this and want to learn printing they can, if not they can stay here for as long as they want. We don't financially penalize people for staying doing what they're good at and/or enjoy.

This is our basic procedures with job tickets.
  • Job Tickets - Every item on every order gets it's own job sheet. That job sheet stays with the job the entire time and NEVER goes to the customer. It is numbered - Order Number and then item number. IE Order 5555 - Item 1 of 4. These sheets are autogenerated by our online system which 95% of our jobs are submitted through. It has all the specs required for both printing and finishing on it. There is an area for job notes for non-standard things. Everyone who touches the job is required to initial that they read those notes.
  • Printing - The person who prints the job is required to write down EXACTLY how many sheets they printed along with the math they used and what method was used for printing it.
    • IE. Ticket is 1000 - 5.5in x 8.5in. This gets printed 4-up on 12x18. Prepress has labelled the PDF file with this pattern - 5555-01-LASTNAME-5.50x 8.50-FBP.pdf
    • Proof - Printer looks at job sheet, grabs the file, imposes it (using impose template 5.50x8.50-FBP) and prints a proof. They look over the proof for any obvious issues (color, clarity) and front to back registration.
    • Quantity - Printer looks at quantity line and writes something like: 1000/4 = 250 +P
      • If requires folding then they may write something like 1000/4 - 250+ 5P to denote that they printed 5 extra sheets so person folding has some to play with to get the folds right.
      • The reason we have them write the math they used is just so that if there is an error in the final quantity we know where the error happened. ie if someone wrote an 1000/10 but that cut pattern is 1000/8 then we know quickly where the count got off and it's easier to fix it (and then we can tease someone about their math skills).
      • If it's a VERY short run. 1 copy of a book for example then there may not be a P at all.
      • If it's a longer multi-page document. IE. 50 pages and the customer only wants 4 copies. We aren't printing an extra proof of that. If they ordered 100 we would though. The person printing makes that decision.
    • Method - What method did they use for imposing. IE we have different template for guillotine vs the duplo slitter. Larger jobs may be faster to use the guillotine than the duplo so they write down which template they used.
  • Finishing - The finishing person highlights any extra finishing tasks on the job sheet (beyond just cutting). They double-check the printers math and initial it.
  • Job Sheets - We save the job sheets so if something goes wrong we can review the job sheet and then follow up with the employee/employees who contributed to the error. Not with the intent of shaming them just to give them a heads up and help them come up with a plan to prevent the same error in the future. Employees that aren't teachable or can't learn to handle mistakes/corrections without it ruining their day don't last long because nobody has time for that drama. We don't have time for people we have to tip-toe around.
That's basically it.

We've tweaked things SO many times since we started - as we've grown and the systems we started with didn't work at larger quantities of order/jobs. This is the method we're using right now.

One thing we have learned... regularly review and remove rules. It's tempting when big errors happen to implement a rule that slows everything down but in reality, it was a mistake that will likely never happen again. It only happened that one time because of a combination of the exact bad circumstances. Over time you end up with so many rules in place that things that should not take long are taking ridiculously long because everyone is jumping through stupid hoops for one time mistakes.
Job Tickets:

We have spent 30+ years designing and refining our factory job tickets to make them as accurate and unambiguous as possible.
The job ticket has an overall description of the job at the top, including size, number of pages, printed process/mono/Pantone etc, binding, distribution and other relevant information.

Below this the job ticket is divided into section, starting with Prepress, in this area we show what is supplied by the customer, number of pages, colours, imposition requirements and what machine(s) the job will be printed on.

The next section has information for the press operator, number of sections to print, qty per section, colours and other relevant instructions.

Same again for finishing, despatch & distribution.

About 2 1/2 years ago we switched from an MIS system called Quote & Print to PrintIQ, it's been quite a learning curve to get PrintIQ where we want it, and it's still an ongoing process.
The idea with PrintIQ is that each department has a digital device where they can access the job they are working on, and see what they need to do.
One thing we have learned is that getting correct information on job tickets is more about the people involved rather than the programs or other technologies involved, and most errors we encounter are due to human error.

Proofs & Mockups

We used to run physical proofs for every job, originally on Dupont Dylux bluelines and Cromalins, then, when we moved to CTP, Inkjet and Iris proofs.
Nowadays, physical proofs are only run when requested, for offset jobs these are either inkjet proofs or a second imposition is created using the same pageset and a proof is run on one of our digital presses (Indigo & Ricoh). Many jobs now are proofed using our Prepress Portal, so physical proofs are not run for these.

Any job requiring binding, or where the folding is ambiguous gets a mockup, these are printed on an office copier, saddle stitched books are stitched on the copier as it has this capability, perfect bound jobs are either glued up by hand or just have a bulldog clip on the spine. Mockups for more complex finishing jobs vary depending on the job.

Checks by printers

Our printers do check the numbers on the job ticket, and also fold up sections to make sure that everything works correctly.
Mistakes still slip through from time to time, and when they do, we look at where systems have broken down. Mistakes are most commonly due to human error or miscommunication
wow, thanks for your extended answers!
- short ones too :) -

The company i work for is a merge of three different companies ( two basically ) a big offset printer and a smaller but more ''effective'' digital one.

The differences in culture and job ethics are vast, and for most people it's really difficult to change how they do things - and we are talking middle age people now, like in your companies i assume.

I agree that miscommunication and human errors are the root for most mistakes, i also believe that good production management, clear job tickets and some proofing ( for color or bindery ) helps making less of them.

- on the other hand, when you ask for double sided superfine paper from your provider, and the provider sends you single sided, and the paper gets trimmed to print-size, gets printed, and no one but you takes notice, no matter how ''clean'' a job ticket can be, or precise the communication is, mistakes seems inevitable...-


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