Esko is putting the spotlight on solutions that help operations address the industry’s primary challenges at Ipex 2014. Professionals from packaging, labels, printing and sign & display businesses, as well as designers and brand owners, will have the opportunity to view Esko's industry-leading solutions that are designed to help them better meet the challenges of today's dynamic and rapidly changing industry. Products on display on Esko stand S4-F310 include the Esko Software Suite, Kongsberg XP24 digital cutting table and CDI Spark 2420 with Full HD Flexo. Esko's subsidiary Enfocus will be present on the Esko stand to demonstrate its newest PitStop preflighting and Switch automation solution.
“Various industry drivers and megatrends create a challenging context in which packaging service providers and printers are under constant pressure to change,” states Paul Bates, Esko's Regional Business Manager. “We are inspired by trends in the industry and focus on five key directions for packaging preproduction as we continue to innovate our products and solutions. All this is backed up by a significant amount of conversation with and feedback from both brand owners and packaging converters.”
Workflow automation shifts gears to “lights out”
Esko Automation Engine smart workflow tickets route designs intelligently and with as little operator intervention as possible, from design to press-ready printing plates. Workflow automation stretches beyond printing and finishing to integrate with brand design at the start and logistics at the end. With new modules such as Automation Engine Connect, prepress workflow is no longer an island of expertise, but the centrepiece that integrates external data from whatever source, internal or external, with the packaging production workflow. Esko Color Engine is embedded throughout the entire workflow to ensure accurate and consistent colour reproduction from start to finish. It is linked to the PantoneLIVE™ cloud for flawless colour communication. The flexo platemaking process, the last step before the printing press, becomes more automated with the CDI devices that ensure integrated plate imaging. Quality is maintained by Esko Full HD Flexo, the first and only fully digital platemaking workflow in the industry.
Smart templates rule
A smart design template connected to content in external databases is the basis for full end-to-end workflow automation. With Esko Dynamic Content, graphics and content are strictly separated and critical content resides securely in cloud-based asset storage. Templates retrieve content from the brand owner’s packaging management system, where changes must only be made once in order to flow through the system to ensure packaging production within the constraints of brand and legal guidelines.
Quality comes first
With a successful automated workflow, the focus of a prepress operator shifts entirely to quality checking. At Ipex, Esko will show for the first time an ArtPro companion, a new cross platform software application dedicated to quality checking of packaging production files. Integration of the workflow with inline visual inspection systems closes the loop with the printing process while integration with CAPE palletisation and logistics software provides ample opportunity to produce environmentally friendly packaging through a reduction in supply chain waste. Finally, the unrivalled quality produced on Esko's highly popular Kongsberg digital cutting tables for packaging, display and sign applications, provides automation, increased productivity and outstanding precision.
Interactive editing is “task driven”
For its latest software release, Esko has focused its research and development efforts on improving the operator experience. Operators will execute their most critical tasks, quality checking and exception handling, in a much more efficient way with a task-driven GUI. Only the tools required for a task are on the operator’s desktop or mobile device. Intelligent wizards guide the operator through expert processes, with 3D and preview of finishing operations as mainstream technology. States Bates: “In the new FlexProof, profiling brand colours for a multi-channel press setup becomes child’s play. With Studio and Store Visualizer, Esko has pioneered the introduction of 3D visualisation for virtual mock-ups and store-simulation in the packaging workflow.”
Online supply chain integration
Integrated packaging-savvy production and asset management systems dramatically improve time to market and reduce cost. They also support operations that run virtually anywhere in the world, in a home office or even on the road. WebCenter will take this a step further with new technology that dramatically simplifies the transfer of jobs from one production facility to another, handing over entire projects. Another facet is the integration with CHILI Publisher that turns WebCenter into an online editing platform for any remote stakeholder in the process. Dedicated tools for project management and supply chain collaboration will make WebCenter the preferred backbone for global and local packaging production facilities.
"Ipex is an important platform to communicate with a highly diverse audience that is looking for future-oriented, sustainable solutions," concludes Bates. "We’re looking forward to manifold encounters with various players in the packaging supply chain, in the first place with people looking at investing in a digital press for whom Esko solutions are an enabler for colour management and workflow automation. Secondly brand owners and retailers who recognise Esko Brand Management software as a market-leading solution and deploy it for supply chain integration and packaging project management. Thirdly, packaging converters who leverage our solutions for the utmost in quality and productivity, and know us as a trusted business partner that delivers substantial benefits to an ever-growing customer base. In other words, results that make everybody smile!”