The integration of powerful MIS and workflow systems can transform a label printing company. Blue Label Digital Printing, (www.bluelabeldigital.com), based in Lancaster, Ohio, US, combined its Cerm MIS (www.cerm.be) and Esko (www.esko.com) Automation Engine production system to accelerate production with a minimal increase in prepress or admin staff, while increasing sales ten-fold.
Blue Label Digital Printing specializes in label manufacturing for a variety of food, beverage health & beauty and other companies. Their HP Indigo digital presses let them run small and large batches with three- to five-business day turn-around times.
If you are an all-digital printer, the majority of your jobs are going to be small. You have to learn to be profitable. “It requires a printer to make non-value added tasks as cost-efficient as possible. Esko Automation Engine helped to step and repeat and create proofs that hurdled past our human efforts,” adds Boyd.
Jobs are completed in two phases. The preparation of one-up artwork is still done manually, but the creation and approval of proof files and sending ganged step and repeat files to the press are done automatically by Automation Engine. Operators simply drop the files into a Cerm folder. Cerm takes all the work from the estimate and puts the jobs together for production. While scheduling requires some manual work, production planning is done by automated tools. The Cerm MIS sends Automation Engine JDF job information, how it should be stepped out, required sizing and gaps, and label material.
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Since they integrated the systems, Blue Label has grown by a factor of ten. They process about 200 pieces of art a day, while they worked on about twenty daily, beforehand. “It would be impossible to work without our system. We have substantially increased throughput with minimal staffing increases. Without our system, we would need an entire room of people manually doing just our step and repeat work all day,” says Boyd.
Blue Label’s strong selling point is their turnaround time. “If it takes two to three days to get artwork and proofs back, you’re going to be challenged,” adds Boyd. “If you add time to put a job on the press, you're pushing production to the limit. Once a file is approved, we’re no longer waiting to impose the job. Without Automation Engine and Cerm, we wouldn’t be as quick and successful as we are today.”
While many label printers implement fully customized Automation Engine systems, for those companies who can’t wait to get started, Esko has introduced Automation Engine QuickStart for Labels and WebCenter QuickStart for Labels. These solutions are particularly easy to implement and deploy. More important, they are pre-configured, easy-to-use turnkey workflow solutions that address many challenges that constrict throughput and cause inefficiencies in label manufacturing. They are based on best practices gleaned from hundreds of label converters around the world over.