Nosco enjoys massive efficiency and agility gains with Esko Automation Engine workflow

Esko Automation Engine workflow delivers incredible efficiency gains and improved agility for a leading U.S. packaging solutions provider, including a 60-70% reduction in manual work.

The Customer

Nosco, Gurnee, Illinois, USA

Nosco is a full-service packaging solutions provider with over 110 years of experience. The company is a key player in the natural health and pharmaceutical packaging markets, supplying more than 450 customers with cartons, labels, inserts and flexible packaging.

Headquartered in Illinois with plants across the United States, including Texas, Pennsylvania and New York, the multi-million-dollar business employs nearly 700 individuals, and is a market leader in variable data printing. Through their hub and spoke operation across six sites and growing, today, all of Nosco’s prepress work is handled from a central location by a team of roughly 25 operators.

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Esko passed all of our speed trials, but the fact that Automation Engine had the RunList facility was something unique.

Brandon Kapellusch, Solutions Architect with Nosco

The challenge

Delivering accurate variable data, fast

The nature of the Nosco business means that their ability to print variable data with speed and accuracy is absolutely crucial. Plus, with the number of customers and volume of individual, personalized digital print jobs continually increasing, the company was looking to implement a new workflow server when updating its digital presses and associated systems in 2019.

“We were evaluating different options to determine which workflow solution would best suit our innovation and business efficiency goals,” explained Brandon Kapellusch, Solutions Architect with Nosco. “We are always identifying the best tools to improve our efficiencies and one challenge we encountered was the usability of variable data – historically the files were just too big.”

With PDF technology improving to such an extent that complex files could now be quickly processed by Nosco’s incumbent Edison RIP, it was important to identify a workflow system that would deliver the data, while meeting the business demands of both agility and flexibility.

Being a leader in the adoption of digital print, Nosco is a longstanding customer of HP Indigo, alongside Esko, with the two companies working in partnership to deliver an integrated system for the packaging provider. “We already used Esko Color Engine for proofing and color management for our HP systems,” Brandon explained. “We needed a solution for variable data printing, and we wanted to find the best – not just by reputation or name alone. The fact that we knew Esko and that their solution could do a RunList was a big factor for us.”


This new system increased speed, efficiency and productivity, while reducing errors, interventions and reruns.

Brandon Kapellusch, Solutions Architect with Nosco

The solution

Processing variable data quickly and accurately

Automation Engine from Esko is a workflow solution that not only automates print production tasks, but also has a toolkit to enable seamless integration with existing business infrastructures. While this significantly speeds up the workflow process, it also reduces error rates and need for operator intervention.

Automation Engine is the only solution on the market that automates the requirements of different printing techniques simultaneously so that only one production file is required for combination print jobs. It also accepts a wide range of desktop publishing formats, supporting RIPs or file servers and all industry standards such as PDF, XML, XMP, SQL queries and JDF/JMF communication.

“Esko passed all of our speed trials, but the fact that Automation Engine had the RunList facility was something unique,” said Brandon.

“We use a step and repeat dynamic in Automation Engine, which makes variable data that works with HP tickets to get everything to the Edison RIP. We needed a system that could process one million cartons, and now that we are generating thin PDFs in Automation Engine 18.1, we can actually do this,” he said.

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Since introducing Automation Engine, we’ve seen an incredible 60-70% reduction in the manual work required.

Brandon Kapellusch, Solutions Architect with Nosco

The benefits

Minimizing errors, and maximizing productivity / efficiencies

In addition to reducing errors and incorporating assisted quality checks, Automation Engine standardizes processes and offloads tasks to the automated workflow software, significantly increasing throughput. This improved accuracy and efficiency led to some startling savings for Nosco.

“The new system increased speed, efficiency and productivity,” said Brandon, “while also reducing errors, interventions and reruns. Because we’re able to run so quickly and efficiently, we now run just one shift for this support area. Before, an operator would have to manually name files, sort and move them, which is very time consuming. Since introducing Automation Engine, we’ve seen an incredible 60-70% reduction in the manual work required.”

Connectivity with existing infrastructures was enabled by the Automation Engine Connect toolkit with assistance from Esko and HP’s support teams. “It’s running smoothly,” said Brandon. “Moreover, we use every last bit of the capabilities. We do a lot of programming and among the many features, the database help is invaluable.”

“It’s also very efficient,” he said. “We’re using the same software on the printers as we are for proofing, so, it makes everything very streamlined and integrated. Our position as a market leader in the specific field of variable data printing has only been enhanced by the efficiency gains and agility afforded by Automation Engine.”

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