Autumn Graphics Extends its Reach into the Packaging Supply Chain

Autumn Graphics has extended AG Virtual Proof, its Esko (Booth 4231) WebCenter-based service, with the WebCenter Lifecycle Management Module, to offer full tracking, monitoring, and review/approval services throughout the packaging supply chain.

Based in London, Ontario, Canada, Autumn Graphics was one of the first in Canada to install a drum scanner, an early adopter of litho and flexo computer to film, and the first Canadian installation of Artwork Systems’ (then known as PCC) PackFlow software. Autumn Graphics was also a beta testing partner and early adopter of flattop plate technology. “We focus pretty much on packaging—mostly for consumer products and pharmaceuticals, and the converter suppliers to those industries,” says Ben Abray, President.

Four years ago, Autumn Graphics transitioned to Esko WebCenter’s approval and workflow tools. Starting with a few customers, they added customers while building more elaborate workflows and a supporting asset management system. The AG Virtual Proof system provides secure Internet-based communications for graphics revision and approval cycles. Using a standard Internet browser, partners view projects, make annotations, request revisions, compare versions, and approve or reject items or entire projects.

“We thought the WebCenter Lifecycle Management Module could enhance our working relationships with customers,” remembers Abray. The module lets users control the complexities of the packaging development lifecycle, letting them create dynamic request forms and process flows to manage projects from the briefing stage to product delivery.

“We wanted to offer not only file and job submission and prepress, but also more visibility to job scheduling, extending the breadth of job management. We were drilling deeper up and down the supply chain,” recalls Abray. “We saw ourselves offering customers visibility and access to assets after a job was done. Building those workflow features meant we’d have less work to do on a project basis, customers would have instant information and file retrieval, and they wouldn’t be beholden to our CSRs.

“The WebCenter Lifecycle Management Module is easy to use once job data and file inflow, workflow, and user roles are defined. We’ve used it successfully for several months, and there’s much more we can do with it,” comments Abray.

Because Autumn Graphics can link responsibilities until other tasks are completed, it allows a broken workflow to stay on track. “When we measure the workflow, we can chart our own performance against predetermined timelines—very difficult to measure before,” says Abray. “Automated approvals are received more clearly with each person’s next steps, so jobs keep on track.

Brand owners direct a substantial portion of Autumn Graphics’ work. They can look at the system and refer to project lists, getting good snapshots of where they are, along with access to files. For printers, WebCenter provides all the information they want along with the ability to communicate job specs and attach documents automatically, so they become metadata in the database.

“We opened Autumn Graphics US Inc., located in northwest Arkansas. WebCenter has been configured to monitor production in our Canadian and U.S. organizations,” Abray concludes. “Because WebCenter and its WebCenter Lifecycle Management Module offers visibility and accountability to all involved in the workflow, everyone has ownership of roles in a project workflow.”