Home' FLEXO Magazine : July 2016 Contents 46 FLEXO | JULY 2016
file, problems caused by poor communication and
collaboration are frustrating and costly.
Collaboration software helps all players in pack-
aging development and production communicate
effectively and efficiently. By centrally controlling
the files, information, people and processes, the
software keeps all the players in the packaging sup-
ply chain aligned via workflow tasks, notifications
and conversations, globally and 24/7.
The systems automatically assign tasks, and move
files and information to the next person who needs
them. They let users evaluate, review and approve
documents, reduce and eliminate development
cycles, and organize packaging projects and assets.
As tasks are completed, requests to upload files
are made to each person in the chain before being
passed to the next stage.
GETTING BRAND COLORS RIGHT
Brand colors often prove tricky to accurately reproduce on the wide
range of substrates. They require a well integrated color management
solution. Cloud based databases of hundreds of thousands of pack-
aging inks—modeled on many packaging substrates—bring stan-
dardized, predictable, repeatable color management to all players in
the packaging supply chain. This assures what the designer or brand
owner wants, is what they get.
The prospect of designing sustainable packaging can be daunting. By
combining CAD software to design the structure of a package with a
palletizing application, companies can make progress optimizing for
shipping. Palletization software can automatically determine the best
load scheme and return it to the CAD program.
By evaluating the size of packaging and optimizing the pallet and
truck load, companies are able to make an impressive dent in their
carbon footprint. It will not only significantly boost profitability, but
also reduce truck miles, fuel consumption and carbon dioxide output.
Combining structural design and palletization can deliver extraordi-
nary results. One brand owner we know reports that it removed 15
percent to 20 percent of the cost of a project solely through the reduc-
tion of fiber. There were also pallet handling efficiencies of 10 percent
to 15 percent, delivering an overall savings of about 30 percent.
AUTOMATION & THE CLOUD
One of the more difficult challenges is quality control. With more and
more jobs, there is less—if any—time for operators to review content
to assure it is correct. Brands have a zero tolerance for on pack errors
and the issue of regulatory compliance continuously hangs over the
heads of converter prepress managers. Tools exist to embed quality
control automatically into the workflow—spell checkers, and auto-
matic bar code and Braille checking against approved profiles. These
checks typically run in the background and enable fast, systematic
revision of all detected errors.
This allows operators to process more jobs with the same number of
people, while resulting in fewer errors. It also offers peace of mind and
addresses the lack of skilled operators.
Another way to nurture simplicity is to make sure the software itself
is easy to use. Some software has been introduced with a unique and
intuitive user interface, using things like a tool selector wheel that
provides instant access to the right tools wherever the person happens
to be working in the design. Information is displayed where and when
it is needed. An in context UI removes all clutter from the screen.
Studies indicate the time savings on operator training alone is as high
as 28 percent. Users consistently report greater efficiency and faster
The other way forward in prepress is to automate mundane, repeti-
tive tasks and limit the work of operators to what they are valued for:
specific expert tasks and quality checks. For example, the ability to
automate the process of step and repeat on a press sheet comes with
intricacies like the length of the diecut tool. Hopefully, operators are
using the same data to step and repeat for the die cuts. Some software
has plugins to guarantee alignment. Of course, pretty much all
prepress activities can be automated, driven by job information taken
from order entry systems.
Some software vendors are offering their solutions in the cloud. With
an SaaS model, the vendor hosts and manages the software services.
Users choose the solution they need and run their business without
increasing IT overhead and without the potential complexities coming
from software upgrades. Users can also benefit from more flexibility.
For example, when demand spikes, subscriptions simplify by adding
additional software seats. Businesses can better manage cash flow and
(Clockwise from top left) Content management, bar code inspection, in store visualization and text
inspection are some of the tools that exist in an automated and streamlined operation.
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