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FLEXO Magazine : November 2010
Plants & Processes SucceSS By DeSign Two and a half years ago, Abbott-Action purchased Ar- tiosCAD, but was not using it much. “I mandated the depart- ment to use the CAD software,” recalls Goudreau. “ While they all initially fought me on it, now they think it is a great tool. ” The staff now finds the CAD software to be very helpful for parametric designs. Rather than inputting dimensions, by building a package or display from a formula, Abbott-Action designers can change dimensions and allowances, and create similar, resized items. Rather than redesigning the wheel, they can redesign new packaging, just by changing dimensions. “ While other software required us to be almost computer programmers, with this system we don’t have to be rocket scientists,” remarks Jeremy Hood, manager of creative services. “ It’s is easy to use. A designer can get familiar with it rather quickly. Our designers use the 3D function to visual- ize package designs, and build virtual prototypes before our two full-time people cut real samples on a table. There’s lots of work every day, so we try to do as much virtual 3D work before tying the table up. This saves us production time on the table and material as well.” The 3D capabilities are strategically important to Abbott- Action, too. “ When we’re pitching new designs to prospects, we don’t lug in prototype samples with us,” explains Hood. “ Rather, in a few minutes we can create a number of high-resolution 3D versions. Buyers already have lots of samples in their office. We render designs on a daily basis, show them to the client, and return with 3D modifications very quickly, rather than waiting a few days to cut comps and add graphics. ” He continues, “In the past, Kraft samples were hard to visualize with graphics. The 3D hit rate is much higher be- cause people can see structural designs with graphics. And ad agencies can use the renderings for store images. For the brand owner, these time savings all link to time-to-market. And, let’s not forget that the software assures that data output is on the ‘same page’ when we’re ready to manufacture.” The Whole WorkfloW Project management software was also at Abbott-Action before Goudreau joined the company. “I was familiar with it, but it wasn’t be- ing used here,” remembers Goudreau. “Now, when there is an order request, even through a PDA or iPhone, it is entered automatically in the system, populating a database of assignments and timelines.” The department manager looks at the requests and sends the assign- ment to a designer automatically via a software “task.” When completed, the designer marks the task complete and the project is automatically forwarded to the next person on the task list (for example, their in-house die vendor). At any point during the project, Goudreau can see where the project is in the cycle through a simple dashboard view. Anyone can access the project management system, check job status and receive an estimated date of completion. Abbott-Action performs pre- and post-efficiency, work- flow and operations tests for its customers. Using the CAD software, the simple task of how a carton gets loaded—end or top-load—affects how a package is designed. It can be rebuilt quickly with parametric designs, affected by pallet and operations efficiencies. “ T he design software links to CAPE software to determine palletization configurations very quickly. We removed 15 to 20 percent of the cost of a project by the reduction of fiber. There were also pallet-handling ef- ficiencies of 10 to 15 percent. Overall savings were about 30 percent,” says Goudreau. The company recently got help from the original software providers, which showed how a closed loop system on the project management system should work, tying the produc- tion system to a Harry Rhodes estimating and ERP (enterprise resource planning) platform. “ When an RFC for a standard parametric design is entered into the system, the spec will im- mediately be sent to the cutting table, automatically cut, and delivered to customer—and a structural designer never has to see it. The project is just in its infancy but, when complete, will take about 40 percent of the workload off our designers’ backs. The CAD operators should be creating new ideas, not rebuilding existing work,” says Goudreau. In the future, Abbott-Action also intends to use its project management system to look at a product design and auto- matically assess the most effective press to run it on. “ T he software will be a completely closed loop program for us. In two years, everyone will need to run this system,” predicts Goudreau. “It’s like cutting samples by hand in the past, and now running tables. By using the automation features inte- grated with the CAD, we’re able to use our valuable resource of designers for what they do best—designing.” Goudreau offered industry peers one final warning: “If you’re going to be in this business down the road, you will have to use systems like these. You will not be able to function without it. Not only on automation, printing and turnaround time, but with 3D customer samples. Businesses will not be able to compete without it.” n robert rodriguez, abbott-action senior designer, at the Kongsberg Xl20 finishing table www.flexography.org november 2010 FLEXO 77 FLX_Nov10_mech.indd 77 11/1/10 2:26 PM
Sustainable Fall 2010