New case study – Large US printer automizes production workflow successfully
“Growing as a company while reducing needed staff in prepress.” Prepress Manager Mike Thorson talks about the successful automation of the production workflow at US printing company Ripon Printers
Regensburg. To what extent can the production workflow at a printing company be automated? How can production throughput be increased while at the same time increasing the quality of print data? What measures need to be taken to make printing processes more efficient? How did the US-based printing company Ripon Printers manage to cut its prepress workforce and yet continue growing as a company? Answers to these questions and more can be found in the best-practice example provided by Ripon Printers, a company whose roots lie in newspaper printing but which has since developed into a major printing company in the US.
The history of Ripon Printers began in 1962, when the company printed and published newspapers. Over the years Ripon was able to grow into a commercial printing firm with annual turnover of more than $50 million. From its headquarters in Wisconsin, Ripon Printers uses high-end technologies to provide services for catalog manufacturers and publishers throughout the US. In recent years Ripon Printers has successfully increased the level of automation in its production processes, thereby bringing the company considerable advantages in terms of resource efficiency, print data quality, and cost reduction.
More automation at the prepress stage for greater efficiency in production and better print data quality
Back in 2005, Ripon Printers decided to automate individual steps in its production process using OneVision’s Speedflow Check and Speedflow Edit solutions. After a successful implementation phase, the company was determined to increase the level of automation across its entire prepress stage. It therefore added not only the data normalization and preflighting tool Asura but also OneVision’s Workspace Pro and Workspace Balance solutions to its production workflow. “The aim was to profit from an even higher level of automation, setting up and automatically running a series of modules, and therefore increasing our throughput,” explains Ripon Printers Prepress Manager Mike Thorson. One of the main reasons for the investment was for preflight as well as automatic correction of errors in PDF files. “We are currently putting through an average of 5,000 pages per week with a peak of over 11,000 ,” Thorson says.
Higher throughput as a key factor in corporate growth
Asked how easy it was to integrate OneVision’s products into Ripon Printers’ process and systems environment, the prepress manager described the workflow: “ Asura sits in front of our Prinergy workflow to clean up and preflight incoming PDF files. 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.” Asura, Workspace Pro and Workspace Balance enable virtual preflighting and automated correction of most errors, e.g. the resolution of transparencies, color calibration, formatting alignment, etc. In the case of Ripon Printers, they enabled the company to focus more closely on issues like RIPing, trapping and automatic imposition. “We have been able to continue to grow as a company while reducing needed staff in prepress,” Mike Thorson says.
The fact that Ripon Printers was already using OneVision products influenced its decision to invest in the additional workflow solutions Workspace Pro and Workspace Balance. Mike Thorson therefore knew OneVision understood what Ripon Printers was looking for. Under the terms of the maintenance contract, Ripon Printers regularly receives new updates for its software licenses and can therefore take advantage of new functions and developments. The US-based printing company also benefits from the support provided by the German software manufacturer. Although Ripon Printers generally needs little support, it occasionally discovers problem files “for which OneVision Support has pretty much always been able to give us a way to work with whatever we have been sent,” Thorson says.“ Asura is fast, effective and powerful,” Thorson summarizes. Asked what he could tell other commercial printers about OneVision products, the prepress manager recalls being challenged by one of his employees about why the company had wasted so much money on a piece of software. Just a year after implementing Speedflow Check and Edit, the same employee told Thorson, “This is the best software we have ever purchased.”
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