Murray Prepress Boosts Workflow Productivity with EskoArtwork Personal Automation Engine

Canadian packaging specialist Murray Prepress Ltd. has boosted the efficiency and accuracy of its workflow with the installation of EskoArtwork's Personal Automation Engine and Plato imposition software. Based in Ontario, Murray Prepress—which provides top shelf CTP solutions, digital proofing, image retouching, color manipulation, and high-end color management to the packaging industry—is the first Canadian user of Personal Automation Engine 10.

From the moment owner Chris Murray decided to update the shop's production workflow, EskoArtwork's technology was on the short list, the result of the vendor's rock-solid reputation for delivering advanced solutions for the packaging industry. Personal Automation Engine and Plato did not disappoint. In fact, they have brought the prepress workflow to a whole new level of accuracy and efficiency.

Personal Automation Engine automates many workflow tasks in the background and reduces operator interaction. It was installed at Murray Prepress in August 2010. Personal Automation Engine is a fully featured flavor of EskoArtwork's Automation Engine, but tuned for smaller environments. Following three days of in-house training by EskoArtwork, the six-person shop was up and running—and "has never looked back," notes Chris Murray.

Realizing Timesavings

While Murray feels he has yet to tap into the full potential of what the software can offer, the two-client workstation setup is already realizing benefits; generating time savings of 20-25 percent per job.

"We use just one to two workflows for all our jobs, and yet it's endless how much we can do," says Murray. "I like the way we can build our workflows; how we are able to easily add functionality. We can start with normalizing PDFs, cleaning, and trapping, and then add other tickets, which are procedures to build the workflow."

With Personal Automation Engine now driving the workflow, Murray feels confident in the PDFs his clients are approving—something that's been missing since the migration to PDFs for approvals.

"One of the biggest changes since switching to Personal Automation Engine is that we can trap a PDF and write a similar low-resolution file to send to our clients for approval," says Murray. "Before, we had a lot of problems with the RIP with reliable transparency flattening and the trapping stitch showing. We had to send a PDF and then trap—our clients didn't see a proof with the traps. Now our clients see exactly what is going to print; nothing changes after it is RIPed. The file is exactly the same. Of course, if a client does not want to see the traps, we can hide the layer."

A Game-Changer

This level of confidence in their proofs is a game changer for Murray. "I am confident that our customers are getting a normalized proof that has been trapped and won't change," he says. "I wasn't able to do that before."

The Personal Automation Engine benefits continue to unfold. Following the initial installation, Murray added the Viewer module, which lets staff find mistakes early in the workflow. They can compare design to production files and see whether or not all corrections have been applied.

"The Viewer turned out to be the best tool and it's not very expensive," says Murray. "It lets us compare a customer-supplied PDF and normalized PDF. It lays them on top of one another and shows you the differences in the separations, side by side. It lets us compare one-bit TIFFs that have been screened. It's an amazing QA tool. It lets us make sure that things like type flow haven't changed—really important for pharmaceutical companies. We use it on every job that goes through the RIP."

A Versatile Tool

Plato, EskoArtwork's packaging step-and repeat tool, is also helping streamline operations. Plate layout, die-based masking, and print production tools are all automated for increased productivity. Along with its ability to change color bars automatically, Murray saves a lot of time.

Murray Prepress is reaping the benefits of its upgrade to the Personal Automation Engine workflow. "I just recently talked about this with my wife, who is my partner," says Murray. "We are really happy we went with EskoArtwork. It was a big decision—it changed our business. Having the confidence in our files is huge. It's made all the difference. Like I said before, we haven't looked back."