Does automation really work? Can I really save money and increase productivity? Is it possible to have an automation process that allows me to manually intervene?
The answer is easy: Yes, yes and yes. All OneVision solutions can be flexibly tailored to your needs, individually, so that the solution fits your demand and not the other way round. The experience of working with more than 3000 companies from the international media and printing industry is the best proof of concept. They all work with OneVision's automation solutions. Commercial printers, book printers, large format printers, label converters as well as newspaper and magazine publishers value the benefits they get from working with the software solutions: time savings, cost reduction and quality improvement.
The automation of print production is a future-proof success model.
We are driven by the success of our customers. Our top priority is to grow our customers' businesses and ensure their profitability. After all, this is one reason why our customers regard us as a trusted partner. Many relations with customers have evolved into working partnerships that allow us to recognize our customers' needs at an early stage and make them the basis of our further software development.
„OneVision offers us professional and well-engineered software to automate and optimize our daily work in prepress.“
Dialog marketing specialist Paragon Customer Communications Schwandorf GmbH explains how the automation software Asura has significantly reduced the error rate for print jobs and optimized print quality, especially in the inkjet sector.
Every print service provider is challenged on a daily basis to complete a wide variety of print jobs as quickly as possible and in the best possible quality, always depending on the publication requirements. But what is the best way to do this? Andreas Mann, Prepress Manager of Paragon Customer Communications Schwandorf GmbH, shows how the implementation of personalized and individualized print campaigns goes hand in hand with a fully automated prepress process and which successes are achieved in terms of reliability, efficiency and print quality. The dialogue marketing specialist is part of Paragon Group Limited and, with around 1,300 employees in six countries, it is one of the leading companies for individualized customer communication in Europe. The company supports retail customers across all industries, such as Payback, dm, T-Mobile and the Otto Group, in the implementation of marketing campaigns. In addition to comprehensive concept consulting, address and data management, the print service provider also creates a wide variety of print products for its customers, such as printed mailings in the form of cross folder direct mailings, pop-up self-mailers, bulk mail (mass print products), magazines and much more.
Mr. Mann, what printing processes and machines are used by Paragon Customer Communications?
For the creation of our print products we rely on sheet-fed and digital web printing as well as web offset printing. Our machinery consists of various offset and digital printing machines such as the HP Indigo, the Prosper Press from Kodak and the Rotoman from MAN Roland. In addition, we use more than 100 high-speed inkjet printing systems and finishing machines for finishing our print products.
What is your average order volume per year?
In web-fed printing alone, we have around 1,000 orders a year with over 3,000 versions. The number is even higher in digital printing.
Why did you decide to purchase OneVision solutions? What did you expect from the new technology?
We grew up with OneVision and have been using the software for years. The first products we had from OneVision were the prepress software Asura and the PDF editor Solvero. Since Asura was linked to the Workspace workflow management system, the production lines can be more versatile and many individual steps can be automated. This increases our efficiency and guarantees production reliability. We especially appreciate the versatile application possibilities and the modular construction in Workspace.
Please describe your workflow. Which software and systems are you using, where are OneVision products embedded in your workflow?
We use the OneVision solutions in two departments of Paragon Customer Communications Schwandorf GmbH. The main area of application is in prepress. Here, all data is checked and optimized with the Asura prepress package. The Layout Programming department uses the software to automatically embed watermarks – depending on file names – in PDFs. For error-free variable data printing, the position (x,y) of special texts in documents is determined according to certain criteria. With Asura's "Compare Documents" module we can easily compare documents (pdf, xml) and generate a test report. The data is then forwarded to our Apogee workflow system.
To what extent do OneVision software solutions meet your expectations?
OneVision's software solutions meet our expectations. In case of problems or special tasks we get a solution quickly via the support.
Was it difficult to introduce OneVision software into your existing processes and system landscape?
Since the software can also be used autonomously, the introduction was very unproblematic. Depending on the area of application, we have integrated the automatisms into the workflow or let them work independently.
How do you assess your print quality through the use of OneVision technologies?
The error rate for print jobs has been significantly reduced, while print quality – especially in the inkjet sector – is being optimized.
How satisfied are you with OneVision's support?
We are very satisfied with OneVision's support. We can always rely on fast and competent help.
What would you tell your colleagues from other printers if they asked about your experiences with OneVision and the products?
OneVision offers a good, professional and mature software solution to automate and optimize the daily work processes for creating print products. Depending on the individual requirements, each print shop can select the appropriate modules for itself and thus implement an optimal printing process.
You can download the complete case study HERE
“Overall I have been very happy with the OneVision products we have purchased. Asura is fast, effective and powerful.” – Mike Thorson from Ripon Printers about the company’s success story of automating their production workflow
Read about Ripon Printer’s decision to further automate their production workflow by implementing additional OneVision software solutions and the achievements they could gain thereby.
Ripon Printers started its business in 1962 by printing and publishing newspapers. Over the years Ripon Printers have grown into a $50 million a year commercial printer with more than 270 employees. Ripon Printers is headquartered in Wisconsin. From there the company utilizes high-end technologies to provide personal services to catalog marketers and publishers throughout the United States.
In the following, Mike Thorson, Prepress Manager from Ripon Printers, talks about how Ripon Printers expanded the automation level of their production workflow and shows how the company could gain remarkable benefits in the field of efficiency, quality as well as cost reduction.
Why have you decided to purchase OneVision’s Asura and the worfklow solutions Workspace Pro and Workspace Balance? Which expectations did you have towards the softwares?
We purchased OneVision Speedflow Check and Speedflow Edit many years ago. Since then we have updated to OneVision Asura to gain some of the additional automated fixes it offered. Since then, we have added Workspace Pro and Workspace Balance to again take advantage of more automation, the ability to string together modules and to increase throughput. We are currently putting through an average of 5,000 pages per week with a peak of over 11,000. As for expectations, we purchased it to preflight and automatically fix common issues with PDF files.
How do Asura, Workspace Pro and Workspace Balance fulfil these expectations?
It works very well. It’s fast and effective.
Could you please also describe how Asura, Workspace Pro and Workspace Balance are working in your specific production environment?
Asura sits in front of Prinergy workflow to clean up and preflight incoming PDF files. Once through Asura, we rarely have issues with Prinergy.
Was it difficult to implement OneVision products in your existing processes and system landscape?
From a “working together” with our workflow, it was very easy. We had some basic profiles working within the first couple of days. That said, it does take a while to develop an understanding of all of the options. There are literally hundreds of choices you can make when setting up a workflow. However, once you get started, it builds upon itself and becomes easier and quicker to create new processes.
How do Asura, Workspace Pro and Workspace Balance facilitate your work?
By doing virtually all of the preflight and many of the common fixes automatically, it allows us to focus on RIPing, trapping and imposing files. We have been able to continue to grow as a company while reducing needed staff in prepress.
Did the fact that you were already using OneVision products influence your decision to buy Workspace Pro and Workspace Balance? And if so, how did it influence your decision?
Yes. The Speedflow products worked so well, we didn’t have to question the reliability of the software or the ability for it to get a lot of work through quickly. We had faith in OneVision (the company) to understand what we were looking to do and when they had a product to meet the need, we trusted it would meet the need. It did.
How satisfied are you with the support of OneVision?
I have been very satisfied. Honestly we do not need support that often other than for software upgrades but when we do, they are there and get us an answer. Occasionally we send them problematic files and they have pretty much always been able to give us a way to work with whatever we have been sent.
What would you tell your colleagues from other commercial printing companies if they asked you about your experiences with OneVision and its products?
Overall I have been very happy with the OneVision products we have purchased. Asura is fast, effective and powerful. When we initially purchased OneVision Speedflow Check and Edit software in 2005, one of my employees asked “Why would we waste so much money on a piece of software?” After using OneVision Speedflow Check and Edit for approximately one year, the same employee declared “This is the best software we have ever purchased”.
Automation in the world of wide format printing: thanks to the implementation of the Wide Format Automation Suite, Siepro KG was not only able to achieve a significant increase in the number of print jobs per day – the company also saved materials costs and improved its profit margins.
Growth rates in wide format printing are impressive. Web-to-print solutions and increasing demand for wide format printing for media and advertising applications mean that the number of print jobs required is constantly increasing. To ensure that these jobs are delivered on time, full automation is now more in demand than ever before. However, how can production processes be optimized as effectively as possible in order to achieve higher revenue and improved print quality? Answers to these and other questions are provided by the success story behind Siepro KG, a wide format print specialist. The company, which is based in Swabia in southwestern Germany, is an established foil printing specialist and supports the printing needs of global players such as Siemens, Meto, Bosch, Fein, Weleda and many more. In the following interview, Michael Hiemann, Chief Executive of Siepro KG, explains how significant savings can be achieved in relation to material costs while also increasing production efficiency in respect of inbound jobs, pre-print file data preparation, and nesting across multiple print jobs.
As a wide format print shop, which products and services do you offer? How high is your average order volume per month?
We specialize in foil printing with an extremely wide range of materials, such as advertising and product stickers, sticker sheets, magnetic foil, backlit foil, wobblers and crowners for use in POS, signage, displays, adhesive and static foil sheets, floor stickers, and 3D money stickers. Our order volume is approximately 4,000 jobs per month.
What kind of machines and print processes do you use in your company?
To produce our thirty different products, we currently work with over twenty large format systems. This involves the use of a wide variety of machinery, such as the OCÉ Colorado and OCÉ Arizona as well as machines from Epson, Seiko, Oki and Zünd. For our print processes, we use UV Offset, screen printing and digital printing.
How has the market for wide format printing changed over the last few years, particularly in respect of digital transformation (e.g., when you consider how online printing has been incorporated)? Which challenges arise for wide format print shops as a result? What were the greatest problems that your business faced?
Online printing has meant that profit margins and production times have suffered a drastic downward correction, while customers’ quality expectations are as high as ever. To combat these issues, processes must be designed to be as efficient and cost-effective as possible. Increasing our throughput with no increase in staff costs meant that individual steps in the workflow and entire production processes needed to be automated.
Why did you decide to acquire the OneVision Wide Format Automation Suite? What were your expectations of the software? To what extent has the software suite changed your production processes? How did you work beforehand?
We had previously worked with impositioning software from Canon/Zünd. This required some manual input, but with the constant increase in orders, it eventually stopped being economically viable. After a long search, and having evaluated some other systems, OneVision’s Wide Format Automation Suite was able to offer exactly what mattered most to us: a comprehensive software solution with workflow management, a pre-press package and innovative technologies such as nesting and an integrated cutline manager, all incorporated into a single system. All these features from OneVision were nearly tailor made to suit our requirements.
To what extent does the OneVision solution meet your expectations?
So far, I think we have only made use of a fraction of the possibilities that the solution offers us and we are already extremely happy. Using the suite allows us to work significantly more flexibly, saving time and cost. The close collaboration with OneVision allows us to give constant, direct feedback. As such, work is already underway on additional solutions, such as barcode integration for Zünd, so that we can tailor all our options to fit our expectations precisely.
Was it difficult to integrate the OneVision solution into your existing processes and systems landscape?
No, the solution was implemented in parallel with our existing operations and was implemented virtually flawlessly.
To what extent was the pre-press process in wide format printing (such as preflighting/standardization, etc.) already automated? Which changes and benefits came about as a result of implementing the Suite?
As a rule, about 90% of the data we received was properly prepared. The remaining 10% had to be “manually” corrected and optimized for printing. Thanks to the Wide Format Automation Suite this is now handled fully automatically resulting in a smooth, nearly flawless production flow.
What benefits does the OneVision nesting technology offer in comparison to your previous process?
The OneVision nesting technology means that complex shapes can now be placed so that not only do we require less manpower, waste is also reduced significantly. Automatic cutline merging means that we can achieve cutting times that we estimate as 70% faster.
Substrates used in wide format printing are highly variable (such as glass, wood, textile fabrics, foil, etc.) and often highly cost-intensive. What effect has the deployment of the Wide Format Automation Suite on your consumption of substrates?
Quite clearly, there has been a significant reduction in the use of substrates and this has also increased our profit margins.
How highly would you rate the degree of automation in the Software Suite?
I don’t think you could ask for more!
What effect has the Software Suite had on your machine utilization and your throughput times?
Our machine utilization actually decreased as a result of the nesting, creating more space for new jobs. Whereas we previously needed to print ten meters for a job, it might be more like nine meters now.
How satisfied are you with the support offered by OneVision? What would you and your co-workers say, if you and they were asked about your experience with OneVision and the products?
We only have positive things to say. The support works really well and we already have a good working relationship. It really addresses each product individually and specifically and is implemented accordingly.
Image: Siepro KG's high-speed printing machine "Colorado" from hardware manufacturer Océ works perfectly with the Wide Format Automation Suite
In its current issue, the German trade magazine "Print & Produktion" reports on how the Munich-based specialist for photo services masters the daily fluctuating ordering patterns of its customers. The perfect mix of automation and manual intervention has helped posterXXL to a production workflow on time, high flexibility and more profitability.
The digitalization in photography and new possibilities by the smartphone have opened up new markets for the printing industry. Only few customers still capture their most beautiful moments in photo albums. The vast majority uses photo books, decorate their smartphone cases with a picture of their family or put up printed canvas with holiday photos in their living rooms. Since 2004 posterXXL, one of Germany's leading providers of photo services in digital printing, produces exactly such photo products. In order to further strengthen and expand its market position, it is particularly important for posterXXL "to deliver on the promise we make to the customer, usually within a few days," explains Bastian Götz, Department Manager Plates at posterXXL.
Product variety and high production costs
On a daily base the Bavarian printing company is confronted with a very variable order income. “We don't really know when the customers are ordering, how they are ordering, what marketing campaigns they are responding to or not”, describes Susanne Feller, Head of Production at posterXXL, one of the daily challenges. In addition, there are "many different products, all of them requiring different production times, because for one product there are several different production steps involved whereas for another there might only be three, for example" adds Feller. “Managing the production flow that way that we can guarantee everything is on time, that is the challenge” says Max Baum, Vice President Engineering at posterXXL.
Moreover, for many big print service providers, running production sites in Germany is becoming increasingly unprofitable; high costs for staff, buildings and infrastructure. “Nobody can imagine that a print service provider with quite some manual work can actually work pretty economically in Munich” says Susanne Feller. So how can these aspects – profitability, product diversity and fluctuating order income – be managed while meeting the delivery time?
posterXXL masters this balancing act with a perfectly matched mix of full automation of their production processes and manual intervention. “To save time, of course, we want to automate as much as possible” explains Max Baum. Nevertheless, it is necessary to react flexibly and quickly to changes in production, for example in the case of a machine failure. However, these manual interventions should not have any effect on the production process, disrupt it or even lead to a loss of time.
Automation with manual intervention
Production at posterXXL starts off in a classic way: In the web shop, the customer selects the product ranging from posters and canvases, over photo books and direct prints to printed bags and individual puzzles, and checks out. The next steps are fully automated. The digital printer therefore uses the Wide Format Automation Suite from OneVision. The images of the customers are uploaded via an interface from the web shop to the software suite, that processes the data according to fixed schedules. “An assembly line that processes the files automatically can consist of up to 28 steps in order to get a printable PDF for our machines” explains Bastian Götz. The choice of the production line depends on the substrate to be printed on. posterXXL prints on both, on plates and on rolls. Hence, in addition to rigid foam/PVC sheets or alu-dibond sheets, various foils or photo and picture printing papers are also used. The print service provider also produces various photo gifts using the sublimation printing process. The individual production lines prepare the images for printing and further processing, move them to suitable folders, rename and sort the files, set them up and then create a normalized nesting. This can be set specifically and adjusted for an optimal material utilization: “When is the software allowed to write a nesting, when should it perhaps wait for other pictures, for other orders so that we have as little waste as possible” describes Bastian Götz the nesting with Wide Format Automation Suite.
Via a direct connection to the DFE, the Wide Format Automation Suite sends the nested print file to the printing presses, such as “large format roll-to-roll printers, classic DesignJets from HP and Arizona from Canon” names Susanne Feller only a part of the machinery. In addition, posterXXL uses printing machines from Mimaki (JV300) or HP (Latex). For post-press, the Wide Format Automation Suite "generates files explicitly suited for the post-press systems (for example ProCut by Zünd/Océ)," says Bastian Götz. “This means that subsequent systems are prevented from queues or crashes caused by heavy print file volumes. Therefore we can guarantee a faster workflow. In this final process step the images are cut, “the canvas is mounted, the book is bound and in the end the product is packed up and shipped to the customer as quickly as possible” Feller completes the process.
Flexible automation, profitable production
In addition to the better material utilization, posterXXL benefits from two major advantages due to the automation: Thanks to the flexibility of the Wide Format Automation Suite the level of automation can be adjusted and changed at any time. Depending on the requirements, check points can be implemented in the workflow and enable manual intervention. This allows the photo printer to adapt its workflow to production conditions without disrupting production. Bastian Götz is sure that this flexibility comes from the user-friendly usability of the software: “You don't need an IT education, you don't need developer knowledge to operate the system. And if you really don't get anywhere, OneVision also has a super Helpdesk you can contact by phone or e-mail.”
The independence from IT also counts as one of the big advantages to Susanne Feller. ”What we appreciate the most is that we can work on the software ourselves.” Changes to the products or the production can be implemented and modified quickly and flexibly, without the IT department accessing it. Hence, posterXXL masters the delivery promise significantly better. The different products “all have different production times, hence, managing and timing the different production times and everything that way that it gets out the door at the same time and in time, that's the crux. And that's exactly what we're doing much better now with OneVision” the production manager sums up.
The trade magazine World of Print reports on how the German printer InForm Etiketten was able to automate time-consuming manual tasks and significantly accelerate production processes by using the Label Automation Suite, which was specially designed for label printing.
Many different factors play a critical role in the creation and production of good labels. In addition to a variety of different work steps, it is also important to comply with strict regulations and tailor labels perfectly to their area of application. InForm Etiketten has a history of almost 30 years and has established itself as an experienced specialist printer With the Label Automation Suite from OneVision, they have a tool that supports them in making label production as efficient as possible.
The basis must be right
However, the necessary prerequisite for a good result begins with the design and pre-press stage. Here too, special know-how is required - especially with the wide range of finishing options. The InForm Etiketten team regularly receives finished PDFs from customers or their agencies, but it also happens that customers are advised on the basis of a vague concept and must be supported in the graphic implementation of their wishes. Therefore, the company employs in-house experienced designers who can develop a design that meets the company's technical specifications and design requirements. "In pre-press, we make sure that the design runs into the press in perfect data form. Here, graphic data usually has to be prepared or converted so that it can be perfectly processed during the printing process. When it comes to complex finishing such as embossing, varnishing, die-cutting or laminating, in particular, all print data must be prepared in an optimized manner so that printing plates, clichés or die-cutting dies fit exactly and inks are printed as desired. In the past, depending on the job and the degree of finishing, this meant a good two hours of work, since each individual step was carried out manually. With the growth in digital printing and the diversity of customers, who order relatively small quantities with a large number of different label types, this of course represents an immense amount of work," explained Dr. Benjamin Rüdt of Collenberg.
Significant increase in productivity and error minimization
In order to be able to handle this process much more efficiently and with minimal errors, InForm Etiketten decided to automate this process as far as possible and put the Label Automation Suite from OneVison into operation about two years ago. The comprehensive solution for label production covers both production planning and optimization of print data. Since then, the InForm Etiketten team has been able to automate time-consuming manual tasks and thus accelerate their production processes. The Label Automation Suite simplifies complex input files to ensure an error-free and fast printing process. In addition, the print shop benefits from cross-customer collective production, which significantly increases throughput. The Label Automation Suite also offers maximum transparency and reliability for each individual production step from order entry to printing. "With a simple average label on a common material and millions of copies, the workflow is lean and clear, and the prepress effort can be easily managed manually. But in view of the growing number of digital printing jobs with shorter runs, such a workflow is simply not efficient enough. With a customer structure that increasingly relies on small volumes with many types, automated structures and a closed workflow are needed to handle these jobs profitably and efficiently," explains Dr. Benjamin Rüdt von Collenberg. "With a highly finished label, manual application of all the different finishing options is laborious and, above all, often flawed. This is much faster and more reliable with the workflow solution from OneVision. We no longer have to manually check the individual steps to make the PDF printable or create a proof. With Label Automation Suite, a time-consuming label that previously took two hours can be processed in around 15 minutes using the automated processes that are either actively performed by the graphic designer in prepress or run automatically in the background."
The automated optimization of imported production data ensures error-free printing. Previously, manual steps such as normalization, preflighting, cutting to die, creating white masks and varnish masks, create missing bleed are now automated with the Label Automation Suite. When an order is received, MIS production data can be imported either directly or via an interface to third-party systems. The label is then automatically optimized for error-free printing. The Label Automation Suite automatically creates cutting dies or laser cutting schemes, white masks, varnish masks and bleed. The combination of open orders into a collective production for cutting dies or laser cutting schemes is also automated, as is the setting of cutting marks. Jobs can be automatically assigned to the presses. Labels with the same substrate are combined and the print jobs are automatically transferred to the press. "The Label Automation Suite gives us the certainty that we can handle every single job reliably, highly transparently and safely - to the benefit of both ourselves and our customers". explains Dr. Benjamin Rüdt of Collenberg.
See the complete case study video HERE
[...] One Vision is one of three companies I believe not only helped move the commercial printing industry forward, but you did it by being there with us, every step of the way. Whenever we called, you all answered with, "How can we help?" [...]
“When we initially purchased OneVision Asura Access and Solvero Access software in 2005, one of my employees asked “Why would we waste so much money on a piece of software?” After using OneVision Asura Access and Solvero Access for approximately one year, the same employee declared “This is the best software we have ever purchased”.
“The use of Amendo has brought a high degree of operation efficiency to our operations department’s workflow. Amendo enables us to meet and maintain our quality standards and brings consistency throughout our entire publication.”
"Asura gives us the assurance that pages, graphics and ads will flow through our system without causing major problems with our downstream processes. Asura was initially only used to prepare files for printing. [...] Over the years, Asura has proven to be a good choice for McClatchy for print and e-editions workflows. The ability to review and normalize PDF files for different media is critical for our e-providers and different printing locations."
"OneVision's Workspace Pro offers us the possibility, to standardize and to automatize many processes. The acquisition paid off very quickly for us."
“It’s incredible how OneVision software solutions have improved our workflow over the last ten years. Today, our entire workflow, be it advertisements, images or whole pages, relies on OneVision products. Whenever I have a problem or a new requirement, OneVision always has a solution.”