Essentra benefits from increased agility, flexibility and productivity with cloud-based Automation Engine workflow optimization

Pilot scheme in Lublin yields positive results for leading global packaging company, as cloud-based automation solution drives efficiency from prepress through to print production ahead of company-wide integration

Esko Automation Engine

The challenge

Drive efficiency and productivity, improve sustainability

The solution

Workflow automation software with cloud deployment

The benefits

Efficiency gains, reduced waste, improved productivity

Essentra Packaging

With a truly global presence, Essentra Packaging is a leading manufacturer of packaging and vital component parts for hundreds of markets and thousands of products. Specializing in the pharmaceutical, personal care and beauty markets, Essentra offers deep market understanding gained through years of experience, working closely with customers to provide bespoke, ground-breaking solutions for their packaging and security needs.

With in-house packaging design and R&D centers to fast-track product launches or optimize packing line capabilities, Essentra has cemented a reputation for forming deeper relationships with its customers to deliver value added services that maximize supply chain efficiencies and reduce their environmental footprint.


Automation Engine

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“As a global company, we were looking to standardize our capabilities in a number of areas, prepress being one of them,” said Mark King, Technical Manager (Packaging Division) with Essentra. “Our aim is to remove as much of the IT infrastructure as possible from individual sites and become a lean company, moving things into the cloud. When we learned that Esko Automation Engine was being offered as a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS), we thought it was right for us.

“Our Lublin facility was selected as the pilot site as it is a multi-product manufacturer, so in terms of development we could experience the new system across both cartons and labels,” said Mark. “Also, as a facility they do a lot of complex work. Put simply, we knew that if we were able to successfully implement the cloud-based system in Lublin, then we would be able to integrate it at any of our other sites.”

As part of our roadmap to align the various sites and meet the challenges we face daily, it made more sense to configure one system that is cloud hosted, managed centrally, and can support the rest of the business

“As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we’re always looking at how we can be more efficient,” said Mark. “We’re looking to innovate in all areas, improving our own agility and of course reducing waste and addressing our own sustainability agenda. The opportunity for a global business like ours to centralize the prepress workflow, with one cutting edge solution, plays into that.

“Like many businesses in our industry, we have SKU proliferation, and everyone wants the same thing – so we are running more jobs and challenged to deliver against shorter lead times,” he said. “Essentra is growing through acquisition, which means that in some of our centers we might have used Esko Automation Engine for our workflow automation, but in others there may have been different or older solutions. As part of our roadmap to align the various sites and meet the challenges we face daily, it made more sense to configure one system that is cloud hosted, managed centrally, and can support the rest of the business.”

We are aiming for that agility and flexibility as part of our value proposition and that’s what Automation Engine SaaS has now delivered

“We’ve worked with Esko for a long time, and I’ve been working with Esko products for a number of years, throughout more than three decades in the industry,” said Mark. “The confidence in Automation Engine was always there. Esko products are market-leading, they’re secure and at the cutting edge. For us, it was really just about waiting for a cloud-based solution that could standardize our prepress workflow automation across our sites. To us it is immaterial whether a job is completed in the UK or Poland or Spain, as long as the job is completed to standard and on time.

“We are aiming for that agility and flexibility as part of our value proposition, and that’s what Automation Engine SaaS has now delivered.”

Flexible to fit with individual business needs, scalable and customized to optimize individual workflows, Automation Engine delivers high-performance, easy-to-use workflow automation. Enabling businesses to automate, standardize and improve prepress workflow with accelerated benefits across their entire organization, it automates prepress tasks and integrates with business systems, which speeds up the process, and significantly reduces the error rate and need for operator intervention. The next generation Automation Engine introduced a cloud-based deployment option and an intuitive new web-based user experience, together with a host of innovative new features.

“Ultimately an investment of this nature is all about the customer,” said Mark. “The standardized checks, quality control, speed of the job – these are all things that the customer benefits from, and so that was one of the key drivers in us trialling the cloud-based version of Automation Engine. The deployment has been undertaken alongside our Esko WebCenter packaging management solution, so the entire end-to-end workflow from ordering and processing through to design, approval and print is now connected and automated.

“Taking part in the pre-release and beta testing has been a very positive experience for us,” added Mark. “As with any new deployment we were expecting some areas to have issues to iron out, but there hasn’t been any at all. I have to say that David Geldhof (Esko R&D Application Specialist) and the team were brilliant, paying close attention to us and regularly checking in to ensure that everything was running smoothly. It has been a real partnership.

“The feedback we’ve had from the team has all been extremely positive,” said Mark. “In terms of operator experience, the key factor for them is obviously one of connectivity – and the experience for them has been nothing but a success.”

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Automation Engine SaaS is a tool that gives us more flexibility in order to deliver a better service to our customers and we’re already seeing the benefits

“The issue of security was obviously high on our agenda. Although we are familiar with Esko we had undertaken our due diligence and it was clear that security in the Esko environment conformed to the high standards both we, and our customers, demand. The new cloud-based offering not only reduces our IT infrastructure overheads, but it affords us the agility and flexibility to up-and-down scale to meet demand, with total security, backup and guaranteed uptime and availability.

“With Automation Engine SaaS we can centralize resources in terms of expertise, software and reduce the need for on-premise IT hardware, delivering cost and time savings and reducing operational risk,” said Mark. “With regards to productivity and cross-site working, there are huge benefits in terms of time savings and preparing for production. Once the configuration is done, with Automation Engine you get consistent outputs. All those potential manual or human errors are eliminated, improving efficiency and minimizing errors to therefore reduce waste. For example, it can take around thirty minutes to manually prepare the imposition, but with the correct workflow configuration using Automation Engine, it takes just two or three seconds! This is a tremendous benefit for our process - and consequently for our customers - as it improves the lead time.

“Automation Engine SaaS is a tool that gives us more flexibility in order to deliver a better service to our customers, and we’re already seeing the benefits,” he said. “There’s a heavy IT infrastructure influence on this project, so when we’re looking at the costs of Automation Engine installations on site at a number of facilities, compared to the configuration of one centralized Automation Engine SaaS in the cloud, you get to a point in the business case where the benefits become very apparent.

“Prepress is a key function and Automation Engine SaaS gives us both the ability to connect sites across our global business, and to connect more users as it grows,” said Mark. “We have a clear plan to ramp-up this integration. In our Lublin plant, we’re now running 50% of all new carton artwork and jobs through Automation Engine SaaS. Moving forward, our objective is to have eight sites using the technology by the end of 2022.”

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