Prepress specialist De Schutter Neroc (DSN) is using Esko’s Equinox to provide brand owners and printers with unique color and quality management technology.
Equinox is a color space enhancing system, and is in some ways comparable to systems like HexaChrome. By adding extra colors to the traditional CMYK range, it enables printers to achieve more and better color in a very consistent, efficient and cost effective way.
Printers do not have to change inks for each and every job anymore, so they are able to increase their presses' productivity while reducing the cost of ink.
We always want to be ahead of the game. We started to test Equinox even before there was a specific demand from our customers or suppliers. We learned that Equinox enabled us to strategically position ourselves between customers and suppliers.
Joachim de Bue (Quality Manager)
Internationally renowned prepress specialist De Schutter Neroc (DSN) is using Esko’s Equinox to provide brand owners and printers with unique color and quality management technology. “By fully understanding customers’ needs and the technological capabilities of the print providers, DSN is in an ideal position to get the very best results by introducing Equinox to the packaging market.
DSN Quality Manager Joachim de Bue.
Targeting global brand owners
Prepress and packaging have always been at the heart of the Belgium-based company, which started in 1944 as De Schutter, a family-owned business in Antwerp. Continual innovation has enabled the company to alleviate time pressures, drive down costs and respond to evolving market needs.
Today, DSN has facilities in the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic and employs 300 people. The company provides global brand owners with design, artwork and prepress specialties, and is aiming to strengthen the bond between brands and consumers by providing color consistency in packaging printing. Currently, DSN mainly serves the EMEA market, but aspires to be a global service provider in the near future.
Moving up the print value chain
Quality Manager Joachim de Bue works for over 13 years at DNS and is responsible for the relationship between customers and printer providers when it comes to the quality of print. “In the past, printers used to be our main clients. But we now have a new position in the value chain, closer to the brand owners that order the final product. Being involved at an early stage in the production process means we are able to provide greater benefits to both parties," explains de Bue. “Centrally managed digital files production ensure consistent quality – and this is something where Esko Equinox helps enormously.”
A next level of color and quality control
Around five years ago DSN started to ‘fingerprint’ every print provider it was sending files to. De Bue describes how the process impacts the quality of the end product: “Many of our clients work with local print and packaging providers, as they like them to be close to their production facilities. As a result, we deliver our files to some 750 different print providers across Europe. By ‘fingerprinting’ them, we have managed to build a database of more than 1,000 unique profiles, with information about the different presses they use and the substrates they print on."
“We visited many different sites to explain the process and conducted a lot of test printing. Subsequently our database now lets us match the needs of the brand owner with the technological capabilities of the preferred print provider," he continues. “However we don’t tell a printer how they should be printing or force them into a standardized way of working. We take a good look at what they have to offer and provide them with tailored, fully optimized print-ready files, enabling them to deliver high-quality print in a very efficient and consistent way.”
With its highly developed specialties and knowledge, DSN is an ideal company to implement the Esko prepress solutions. The company was already involved with Equinox years ago and saw the product further develop into the practical tool it is today. “With Equinox, we can build on our ‘fingerprint’ experience and take color and quality control to the next level,” says De Bue. For more than a year now, DSN has been putting Equinox to the test for one of its biggest clients – brand owner Sara Lee.
Equinox enhances quality and productivity
Equinox is a color space enhancing system, and is in some ways comparable to systems like HexaChrome. By adding extra colors to the traditional CMYK range, it enables printers to achieve more and better color in a very consistent, efficient and cost effective way. With Equinox, printers do not have to change inks for each and every job anymore, so they are able to increase productivity of their presses while reducing costs of inks. At the same time, quality and consistency improve - fulfilling exactly the needs of brand owners that are looking for reduced costs without compromising accurate colors and even improved quality printing.
Equinox does not prescribe how many inks, or which type of inks, should be used like some other multi-color systems. Instead it works the other way around, taking into account the capabilities of a printer’s presses and then targets the best result that can be achieved: “We don’t want to force brand owners or printers into a limiting system,” explains De Bue. “We look for a way to get the best result for both parties without compromising on cost nor quality”. Equinox makes that possible, by letting us define the best color space for every client and range of jobs. We analyze a client’s portfolio and decide where we need to focus our prepress attention to enhance overall print quality. By using up to a maximum of eight colors, Equinox lets printers use their own preferred type of inks to maximize the color space they can achieve in print, which ensures customers have their brand presented in the highest quality, consistently with lower costs.”
Improving quality and efficiency
De Bue explains how Equinox has strengthened DSN’s role in the print supply chain. “We always want to be ahead of the game. We started to test Equinox even before there was a specific demand from our customers or suppliers. We learned that Equinox enabled us to strategically position ourselves between customers and suppliers. On the one hand, brand owners and marketers are always looking for new ways to enhance quality – color is a big issue for them, as it influences a consumer’s decision whether to buy a certain product or not. And at the same time, print buyers always want to lower costs. On the other hand, printers can be quite conservative, preferring to keep doing what they’re used to doing, leaving little room to improve quality or offer lower prices."
“By using the Equinox system, we can strike the perfect compromise and offer advantages to both clients and suppliers. We can guarantee consistent and improved print quality to the brand owner. And the printer can choose to have a fixed set of five to eight colors on its press to achieve this consistent quality, instead of having to continually switch from one set of process colors to the next. This makes production far more efficient, saving the printer lots of time and materials, enhancing overall production capacity.”
DSN also enjoys significant benefits using Equinox: “Esko Equinox is an open system. This means we can use the software in the way that suits us best, and it enables us to translate a wide variety of creative data into files that can be handled flawlessly by any of the 750 printers we deliver them to. This is very important to us. As we produce more than 30,000 varieties of packaging each year, we need to highly automate our workflow without compromising accuracy or flexibility.”
DSN is well positioned to strengthen its relationships with brand owners and suppliers, as the company has the expert knowledge to connect the right content to the right technology.
Proof in print
DSN is very impressed with the impact of Equinox. For Sara Lee, Equinox was introduced at three print providers, offering different print technologies. “Everybody is very happy with what has been achieved,” says De Bue, who is convinced that other clients and printers will follow.
“Especially Western-Europe is probably the most difficult market for Equinox to impress, as this market is very much focused on quality and less on costs. In other parts of the world, markets are more cost driven and we notice a higher willingness to go further, and provide unique service offerings. But regardless of the region, Equinox has a lot to offer in terms of increasing efficiency, quality and customer satisfaction. And DSN intends to be on the forefront of this important development."