Miamisburg, OH (USA), October, 2010 – Keeping up with industry advances and investing in people and technologies makes Abbott-Action an indispensable resource to its customers. It can thank part of its success on EskoArtwork’s ArtiosCAD and WebCenter.
A comprehensive supplier of corrugated containers, packaging, and display solutions in the Northeast, Abbott-Action is involved in virtually every phase of the corrugated process, from raw materials output and procurement, through design and production and finally delivery. Abbott-Action’s graphic department creates about 15 full comps per day from their Canton, Massachusetts facility, printing on label stock and laminating the work on corrugated. Their Kongsberg table gets the most work, helping to finish rigid materials as well as cutting foam for protective packaging. Most of their four-color work is done on a Bobst IRT flexo press, and they operate one of the largest laminators in the US. About 60% of their work is ‘brown box’ while the remainder is display work.
Two and a half years ago, Abbott-Action owned ArtiosCAD software, but was not using it much. “I mandated the department to use ArtiosCAD,” recalls Rod Goudreau, Abbott-Action VP, Business Development. “While they all initially fought me on it, now they think it is a great tool.”
ArtiosCAD is helpful for parametric designs. Rather than inputting dimensions, by building a package or display from a formula, Abbott-Action designers can change dimensions and allowances, and create similar, resized items. Rather than redesigning the wheel, they can redesign new packaging, just by changing dimensions.
“While other software required us to be almost computer programmers, with ArtiosCAD we don’t have to be rocket scientists,” remarks Jeremy Hood, Manager of Creative Services. “ArtiosCAD is easy to use. A designer can get familiar with it rather quickly. Designers can use the 3D function in ArtiosCAD, visualize 3D designs, and build virtual prototypes before our two full-time people cut real samples on a table. There’s lots of work every day, so we try to do as much virtual 3D work before tying the table up. This saves us production time on the table and material as well.”
ArtiosCAD’s 3D capabilities are strategically very important to Abbott-Action, too. “When we’re pitching new designs to prospects, we don’t lug in prototype samples with us. Rather, in a few minutes we can create a number of high-resolution 3D versions from ArtiosCAD. Buyers already have lots of samples in their office. We render designs on a daily basis, show them to the client, and return with 3D modifications very quickly, rather than waiting a few days to cut comps and add graphics,” explains Hood. “In the past, Kraft samples were hard to visualize with graphics. The 3D hit rate is much higher because people can see structural designs with graphics. And ad agencies can use the renderings for store images. For the brand owner, these timesavings all link to time-to-market. And, let’s not forget that ArtiosCAD assures that data output is on the ‘same page’ when we’re ready to manufacture.”
WebCenter software was also at Abbott-Action before Goudreau joined the company. “I was familiar with it, but it wasn’t being used here,” remembers Goudreau. “Now, when there is an order request, even through a PDA or iPhone, it is entered automatically in WebCenter, populating a database of assignments and timelines.” The department manager looks at the requests and sends the assignment to a designer automatically via a WebCenter task. When completed, the designer marks the task complete and the project is automatically forwarded to the next person on the task list (for example, their in-house die vendor). At any point during the project, Goudreau can see where the project is in the cycle through a simple dashboard view. Anyone can access WebCenter, check job status and receive an estimated date of completion.
Abbott-Action performs pre and post efficiency, workflow and operations tests for its customers. Using ArtiosCAD, the simple task of how a carton gets loaded — end or top-load — affects how a package is designed. It can be rebuilt quickly with parametric designs, affected by pallet and operations efficiencies. “ArtiosCAD links to CAPE software to determine palletization configurations very quickly. We removed 15-20% of the cost of a project by the reduction of fiber. There were also pallet-handling efficiencies of 10-15%. Overall savings were about 30%,” explains Goudreau.”
“We recently got help from EskoArtwork programmers, talking about how a WebCenter closed loop system should work, tying the production system to a Harry Rhodes estimating and ERP system,” says Goudreau. “When an RFC for a standard parametric design is entered into the system, the spec will immediately be sent to the cutting table, automatically cut, and delivered to customer — and a structural designer never has to see it. The project is just in its infancy but, when complete, will take about 40% of the workload off our designers’ backs. Designers should be creating new ideas — not rebuilding existing work.”
In the future, Abbott-Action also intends to use WebCenter to look at a product design and automatically assess the most effective printer to run it on. “WebCenter will be a completely closed loop program for us. In two years everyone will need to run WebCenter,” predicts Goudreau. “It’s like cutting samples by hand in the past, and now running tables. By using the automation features of WebCenter integrated with ArtiosCAD, we’re able to use our valuable resource of designers for what they do best — designing.”
“If you’re going to be in this business down the road, you will have to use WebCenter and ArtiosCAD. You will not be able to function without it,” warns Goudreau. “Not only on automation, printing and turnaround time – but with 3D customer samples. Businesses will not be able to compete without it.”