Miamisburg, OH (USA), March 2016 Hart Industries’ two- year ‘subscription’ to Esko’s WebCenter Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution has allowed Hart to effectively (www.hartind.com) establish a customer item database and implement a graphics specification review and approval system for all of its current and future customers.
Hart Industries, Inc. (Hart) is a premiere source for world- class flexographic printing and converting located in a modern, hygienic, climate-controlled facility. Hart is responsible for placing top brands in consumer hands for the last 45 years. Dedication to customer service and reliability has allowed Hart to become a long-term supplier of quality packaging solutions—focusing on specialty paper and coated packaging for the manufacturers of consumer products in the US and around the world. Hart prides itself on the consistency and reliable quality of its products, its innovative approach to providing packaging solutions, and the stability Hart brings to the supply chain for its customers.
Rick Rosenberger, Operations Manager at Hart Industries, arrived at Hart with decades of experience from some of the largest companies in the industry, where he worked closely with several graphics departments. Hart’s Graphics Department performs all graphics work internally for its customers, taking full advantage of equipment such as Esko’s Cyrel Digital Imager while also utilizing Esko’s DeskPack Powerlayout plugin program. The DeskPack program provides Hart the ability to step and repeat artwork and add dynamic marks where required. The CDI allows Hart to proceed from artwork to press in a single day. The challenge that remained for Rosenberger and the Graphics Department surrounded the ever-changing nature of consumer products and frequent adjustments and necessary approvals required for production.
Eliminating unclear email approvals
Rosenberger describes the original artwork correspondence stating, “our Graphics Department historically sent artwork via email to the customer for approval. Usually, the customer would email, in parts, explanations of what details, adjustments, or amendments they required. We would then respond to the customer requests via email. This process would go back and forth until final approval. "The problem was”, remembers Rosenberger, “the email approvals were sporadic, sometimes unclear and not as concise as we would like. While the customer would send a message saying 'art is approved once you make this change', it's really not the kind of approval an art department wants.” The various formats of approvals created confusion and an unnecessary margin for error.
The demand for an effective interface between Hart and its customers significantly increased in the time leading up to Hart’s Safe Quality Food Level III certification process this past November. The SQF certification reflects heightened consumer concern for greater food safety requiring package suppliers to provide verifiable proof that a robust quality and safety control system is implemented. Under the rigorous codes and regulations of this body, Hart is required to present an artwork and specification approval for each of its current items. This is an important aspect of traceability and validation.
In order to successfully meet this requirement and remedy the miscues from the original system of communication, Hart’s Graphics Department began exploring alternative solutions for its approval process. Rosenberger recommended WebCenter as a useful tool that he previously used and found to be a productive and beneficial tool. When Hart’s Esko representative introduced WebCenter, Hart was immediately interested in the program.
Testing an SaaS version before investing full-in
Rosenberger’s familiarity with the program gave him insight into how to manage the subscription and utilize its full capability as soon as possible. He says, “We couldn’t rationalize purchasing software and paying for outsourced IT support. We were much more comfortable testing a SaaS solution.” Rosenberger continued, “Esko offered a very affordable monthly subscription proposal. As soon as it was approved, Esko set up our WebCenter and gave us full and complete control of the application. They took care of the IT and archiving, and if the system ever goes down, they maintain it for us.”
Sorting out approved graphics and uploading them into the system
To begin implementation, Hart Industries systematically went through its graphics archives in order to upload artwork onto WebCenter and review which items previously had unclear or missing artwork approvals. Uploading all of the artwork not only created an organized structure for an active item database, but also provided Hart with the ability to easily confirm approvals through the web based interactive platform. The one-up graphics and step files for every SKU were deposited into the database included with item specification sheets identifying product attributes and item properties.
The smooth development allowed Hart to open up customer access to its WebCenter in less than three months. WebCenter immediately served as a standardized format for Hart to interact with a wide variety of customers effectively. The customization of users and groups enabled Hart to “provide customer access to their respective space,” Rosenberger explains. “If they want to see what is current, they can access the information right in WebCenter. The customers really like the interaction, the ability to make comments on their items, and the general personalization of their portal. The customers can see the artwork, the specifications, colors, trap between colors, how the files are stepped, and how the end product will look when it is produced. We get nothing but praise for it, and it gives Hart a professional look. There are no more confusing emails.”
In-the-round platemaker has remote access to one-up artwork
Hart Industries found that the implementation of WebCenter opened up new advantages in its own production. With remote access, graphic designers can use WebCenter anywhere at anytime. This feature also allows for Hart to outsource their ITR “in the round” plates. While Hart makes all of their flat plates internally, a plate supplier creates the seamless plates by easily locating stepped artwork on WebCenter and making the plates. The dynamic ability to customize the use of WebCenter significantly expands the capabilities of Hart’s Graphic Department.
Hart Industries signed a two-year SaaS contract. "We are subscribing to the SaaS system because we need time to get used to operating the many components," remarks Rosenberger. "However, we will likely purchase the system when our contract expires. While we are currently using WebCenter in its basic form, we intend to visit Esko and learn advanced features. Ultimately, we want customers to interact and place orders with us via WebCenter."
Through the use of WebCenter, the artwork process at Hart has transitioned from a reactive to a collaborative procedure. Rosenberger concludes, "I think WebCenter is an essential program for graphics. It simplifies the entire workflow process. It's a great communication device. All our supply chain partners know where a job is, can make notes about graphics, and approve projects. Web Center is the perfect production tool for Hart Industries.”