Esko reports that Summit Print Corporation, a digital label printer previously facing tedious and time consuming prepress issues, has reduced pre-production errors by more than 75% with the implementation of Automation Engine. Automation Engine is Esko’s modular workflow server for automating and controlling prepress, which delivers a powerful solution for label and packaging workflows. By implementing this engine, it automates Summit Print’s prepress functions, which increases job output and decreases the possibility of mistakes.
Summit Print Corporation, located in Vancouver B.C., is a custom digital label manufacturer specializing in digital label production as well as various printed packaging solutions. Summit Print recently moved into an impressive and newly renovated 15,000sq ft. facility, located on Kebet Way in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, offering a more comfortable customer experience and more space for administration and production. The spacious and modern facility offers a new customer resource center where customers can visit for all things labels and view product displays that showcase the labels Summit Print has recently created. To support this new facility, the company has also designed a new 'face' for itself with a refreshed logo, website and unique building signage. Further, their website and social media platforms are continually being updated to provide customers with access to valuable information.
Summit Print has helped companies in the craft beer, grocery, cosmetics, sports nutrition, nutraceutical and wine industries. “The majority of our clients are small and mid-sized companies,” explains Ryan Lees, Production Manager at Summit Print. “Periodically we do work for larger companies when the project is very targeted—for example, 5,000 containers for one store.”
Every minute spent on job production counts as it prints up to 600 different SKUs daily in run lengths averaging between 200-1,500 impressions. Its tight-knit team handles every detail of the label ordering and production process, helping customers with prototyping, design, and printing of the final product. When Lees first joined the company, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, it was the only digital web company in western Canada when digital demand was not as high. Summit Print operates two digital presses: an HP Indigo WS6000 Digital Press next to the company's new HP Indigo WS6600 Digital Press. “There are many brands who prefer to have short run jobs so that they do not have to sit on a lot of inventory or stock,” acknowledges Lees.
Prior to the implementation of Automation Engine, Summit used the Macintosh OSX file system to hold and store files, relying on a directory that structured files alphabetically. Files were opened and RIPped with HP’s digital front end, which is OEMed from Esko. “Using the Mac OSX system was tedious and time consuming,” Lees says. "With the number of daily jobs on the rise - the result of short run lengths and new orders - I came to the realization that we would either have to hire more people or invest in new technology. We don’t have a crew of 300. Our prepress team is essentially three people, including myself.” After doing the math, Lees came to the conclusion that it was more cost-efficient to invest in Esko’s Automation Engine rather than hiring four-to-five people.
The decision to invest in Automation Engine was an easy one, says Lees, “especially once we knew that the Digital Front End (DFE) and RIP were from Esko. It made sense. We still use the color profile we built with the front end we originally had.”
Automation Engine was purchased directly through Esko. “The installation was easy, quick and efficient. There was a lot of information to take in within two weeks, especially when we were working on jobs. It was like ‘drinking water from a fire hose'," Lees remembers. "However, even to this day the Esko tech support team continues to offer its support. I still send them emails if I need help. They want us to succeed.”
Automation Engine is helping the company dramatically save time, reduce errors and eliminate waste. Lees and the prepress team meticulously create each of the company’s different workflows, taking the time to make sure each is set up correctly before he allows it to go to production. “Automation Engine is a huge asset that delivers as much as you put into it,” Lees says. “It takes time to set it up, because it is very customizable and you can have it do exactly what you want.”
The initial motivation to install the system was to reduce the amount of tedious work required for job setup. “We were already inputting job data once into our MIS,” Lees explains. “We didn’t want to do it again and again—which is what we had to do previously. It all had to be done manually each time.” Automation Engine archives all job information internally, reducing manual interactions. All the information required for a job is entered in the company’s MIS and then sent to the Automation Engine production system. Information can include RIP options, inks, due date, customer info, and even Customer Service Representative (CSR) contacts.
Consistent files, correct revisions
With job reprints, Lees is able to capture the data within Automation Engine to ensure consistent files and proper revisions are sent to press. He doesn’t have to waste time checking files to see which one was used the last time they printed the job.
The MIS interface within Automation Engine works seamlessly with Summit’s MIS solution from Label Traxx. The data is easily acquired from the Label Traxx system to further streamline and automate overall job processing. Jobs and the necessary data, entered into the Label Traxx MIS, are launched through Automation Engine with the workflow automatically pulling the correct files -even if a job has over 100 SKUs. “We don’t have to spend time searching for files, so we are saving a lot of time when making reprints,” Lees says. There are also no errors when pulling files for reprints - it is the right file, every time.
MIS integration with Automation Engine also allows for automated step-and-repeat or imposition to generate gang runs effectively. For jobs with multiple SKUs, this feature provides unparalleled operational ease. A recent job producing honey labels required 175 SKUs, which were ganged up automatically using Automation Engine. “Before, we had to pick through the graphic files and choose which ones would fit into a gang print run,” says Lees. “It was extremely time consuming. Now, it’s all done automatically. Instead of taking between 1 to 1.5 hours to get on press, the labels took only 10 minutes and were done accurately.”
CSRs experience the benefits
Beyond prepress, Automation Engine is also making an impact with customer service. For new jobs, the CSRs have to send proofs to customers. Once the proofs are approved, they are returned to the system. Just like a reprint, they sit in a folder and are ready to go.
Now, the CSRs can pull the proofs of customer jobs rather than asking the prepress department, Lees says. “It’s a huge benefit because it saves us a lot of time. Not only can the CSR’s bring up customer files instantly, but they can now provide customers with answers and assistance immediately.”
Summit Print plans to add a web-to-print workflow, confident that any additional demands on the prepress end will be met with its Automation Engine solution.