At Ipex 2014, Esko put a spotlight on solutions that help operations address the industry’s primary challenges. Products on display on the Esko stand included the Esko Software Suite, Kongsberg XP24 digital cutting table and CDI Spark 2420 with Full HD Flexo. Also subsidiary Enfocus was presented 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,’ stated 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.’ 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 centerpiece 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 color 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. 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. With a successful automated workflow, the focus of a prepress operator shifts entirely to quality checking. At Ipex, Esko showed, 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 quality produced on Esko’s Kongsberg digital cutting tables for packaging, display and sign applications, provides automation, increased productivity and outstanding precision. 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. 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.
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