Reflex Group enjoys consistent efficiency and productivity gains across multiple sites with Automation Engine

The Reflex Group has spent the last decade growing, with seven facilities now located across the UK. In order to improve consistency, connectivity and efficiency across its many different sites, Esko Automation Engine was the automation workflow server of choice.

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The customer

Reflex Group, UK

Reflex Group is one of the UK’s fastest growing labels and flexible packaging manufacturing businesses. With an impressive client roster including some of Europe’s top brands, Reflex Labels is the second largest labels manufacturer in the country. With flexo, litho and digital divisions, the group handles all its own design, prepress, reprographics and platemaking across its various UK locations.

With 40 employees across seven Reflex sites, Esko Automation Engine has become the company’s integral workflow software solution of choice. “Each of our studios now has its own Automation Engine,” said Sam Donohoe, Systems Manager of the Greenhouse (Graphics Division of the Reflex Group). “We have seven Automation Engine workflow servers in total, six of which are predominantly used for reprographics and prepress, and one which is used for graphics management.

“We find that not only does Automation Engine seamlessly link between our various sites, but that it is also the driving force behind our WebCenter packaging management solution,” said Sam. “We had our first Automation Engine installed at our repro hub in Leeds more than a decade ago, and since then have rolled it out across the business. There just aren’t any obstacles to using Automation Engine. If you have the desire to automate the workflows across your business, it can help you overcome almost any hurdle.”

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Testimonial

Not only does Esko Automation Engine seamlessly link between our various sites, but it is also the driving force behind our WebCenter.

Sam Donohoe, Systems Manager of the Greenhouse (Graphics Division of the Reflex Group), UK

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The challenge

Bringing consistency and efficiency gains to a growing business

“In a business as busy and fast-paced as ours, it’s important that any of our teams, located anywhere around the country, can deliver a job in the same amount of time and operating to the same high standards,” said Sam. “So as the Reflex business continues to develop, it has become increasingly important for us to ensure the same efficiency-driving systems are in place wherever we operate.”

“Following that first installation, we’ve added Automation Engines at our other sites as the business has grown, either organically or by acquiring companies,” said Sam. “For example, we have gone into newly acquired businesses and have found a trail of paper being passed around with barcodes and job numbers, sometimes handwritten. In others, where there is a particularly high volume of work, we have had to thoroughly analyze whether we need to increase headcount to handle the level of throughput or if we can actually manage it better through improved automation.”

Sam said that as Esko Automation Engine not only automates print production tasks but also integrates business systems, it has helped to speed up the entire workflow process. “The combination of standardized processes and automated tasks helps significantly increase productivity, while the automated quality checks minimize errors and the need for operator intervention, bringing further efficiency gains,” he said. “When looking at it in those terms, Automation Engine almost gives us the capability of an additional operator.”

Testimonial

When looking at it in those terms, Automation Engine almost gives us the capability of an additional operator.

Sam Donohoe, Systems Manager of the Greenhouse (Graphics Division of the Reflex Group), UK

The solution

Automation Engine – the complete prepress workflow server

Automation Engine is the only workflow server solution that automates the requirements of different printing techniques, so only one production file is required for combination print jobs. The job contains the parameters for the various printing processes, all of which are recognized within the workflow. Each then take their own individual, predetermined paths to automatically obtain the specific print settings.

“We have two Management Information Systems (MIS) in operation in the company,” added Sam. “As Automation Engine integrates with any existing infrastructure, another very beneficial feature is that we can retrieve information from either MIS and from any of our sites. It’s effectively acting as a middleware for us.”

From an entry-level version to completely bespoke setups, Esko Automation Engine delivers improved quality and increased productivity while reducing costs.

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Testimonial

The simplest way to put it is that with Automation Engine, you immediately gain consistency and speed.

Sam Donohoe, Systems Manager of the Greenhouse (Graphics Division of the Reflex Group), UK

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The benefits

Increased efficiency and significant reduction in errors

“The simplest way to put it is that with Automation Engine, you immediately gain consistency and speed,” said Sam. “There’s no longer any need to worry about stepping, as the consistency of the legend is assured – it’s all taken from our own MIS automatically. If there are ever any issues, they’re usually in the file or original data because Automation Engine doesn’t add errors in,” he said.

“We work across labels, flexible packaging and Computer Aided Design, but regardless of job, Automation Engine assures consistency of process. Color sequences are always correct, the trapping is automatic, and so files can be sent directly to RIP or press,” he said. “The efficiency gains are huge. In the digital environment, with Automation Engine you can send a job from repro straight to press, importantly eradicating bottlenecks and increasing capacity.”

Sam said that in terms of the user experience, Automation Engine comes up trumps again. “It really is incredibly simple,” he said. “Previously a user would have a set amount of tickets they could handle, but with Automation Engine it tracks everything for them. That’s why it’s also used as a means of searching and moving files internally as well.

“Automation Engine enables seamless transition of files across our different sites. We have a preflight department which receives files from everywhere – from all our own facilities and even from external customers,” said Sam. “At that point, we don’t know where each file is going. But our Automation Engines talk to each other, the files are checked and then sent to the relevant site server automatically, with all the information and supply files within.

“From my perspective, I can ensure that all the sites work in the same way, with the same level of consistency, using the same ticket system, and sharing exactly the same files!” said Sam.

“Having used it for so many years and seen all the various upgrades and updates, we’re just totally confident in its abilities.”

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