Belgian print house Offset Vandevelde is enjoying huge time savings after automating its prepress operations using the Kodak Prinergy PowerPack Workflow and InSite Prepress Portal System.
The Kruishoutem-based company employs 19 people, with production taking place over two shifts. Kurt Vandevelde, joint owner of the family-run business, is responsible for prepress. "Time is crucial in a print environment," he explained, "so receiving and processing the files, running proofs, and platesetting need to be as efficient as possible. This is something we've certainly achieved with Kodak Unified Workflow Solutions. The extensive automation means many of the more laborious tasks are taken care of, and has freed up our staff to work in other areas of the business and add value."
Servicing a fast-growing packaging market
Offset Vandevelde has a varied order book with approximately half of the jobs comprised of commercial printing, such as flyers, brochures and posters, while the other half involves packaging. Printing is run on four sheet-fed offset presses, all in 70 x 100 cm format, ranging from an eight-color press (4/4) to two five-color presses with varnish and a six-color press with varnish.
There is a clear trend emerging with the company's orders. "The commercial printing is decreasing and is being replaced by digital printing," explained Vandevelde. "Our share of the packaging market is growing substantially."
At the start of 2011, Offset Vandevelde acquired KVA Packaging, a company specializing in luxury packaging that was already printing much of its output in Kruishoutem. "The acquisition means we can now offer end-to-end packaging production," adds Vandevelde.
Switching to Kodak
Offset Vandevelde's previous workflow failed to deliver the performance the company required. "We needed a faster workflow that could connect seamlessly to our Management Information System (MIS)," says Vandevelde. "We also had concerns over its reliability, which is not what you need with a growing order book. Essentially, we needed a high-performance system that would allow us to grow."
After seeing a demonstration of what the Prinergy PowerPack Workflow could do, Vandevelde knew it was the solution the company was looking for. "We wanted to really test the Kodak solution, so we brought with us some problematic files, but they caused no issues at all. We looked at some alternative solutions, but they didn't match Kodak's performance," said Vandevelde.
Immediate time savings
The implementation of the Prinergy PowerPack Workflow and InSite Prepress Portal System went without a hitch. "The time savings in the prepress department for commercial printing were immediately noticeable," said Vandevelde. "It now takes around 30 percent of the time I used to spend on it, and even greater time savings will be achieved for packaging orders."
A substantial proportion of the time savings achieved with the Kodak Prinergy PowerPack Workflow is due to the Kodak Prinergy Rules-Based Automation (RBA) Software and the Packaging Layout Automation (PLA) feature. "RBA lets you automate all kinds of frequently repeated operations during the prepress stage by using 'hot folders,' without the need to click or activate them separately. Simple tasks, like automatically checking or backing up a file, no longer take up time and resources," said Vandevelde.
Meanwhile, the Packaging Layout Automation feature simplifies the prepress stage of packaging printing: "Several boxes are often combined on a single printed sheet, with the layout of the printed sheet for an order of this type being based on the cutting die. Putting this type of printing plate together in prepress, including all the control strips and marks, was always a very time-consuming process. Today, all this is handled entirely by PLA."
Customers impressed by the Kodak InSite Prepress Portal System
The InSite Prepress Portal System has had a big impact on Offset Vandevelde's customers, who are using it themselves to deliver and manage orders and files. "For commercial printing, we switched almost immediately to the InSite Prepress Portal System," said Vandevelde. "It offers us many benefits. Customers can see for themselves whether their files meet all the requirements, and every order is given a number and description directly, which means we don't have to enter all the data separately all over again. We've had great feedback from customers using the InSite Prepress Portal System; they're all pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to use."
Working more efficiently
Vandevelde cites the improved proofing process as another major benefit of the Insite Prepress Portal System. "It's not always easy to convince customers to use a system like this," he said, "but since its introduction we've seen a reduction of around 75 percent in running paper proofs. Some proofs are run entirely through the InSite Prepress Portal System, while other customers receive the PDF file generated automatically by the Prinergy PowerPack Workflow. All corrections and approvals are recorded automatically, and all important information is immediately recorded by order."
Vandevelde's aim is for customers who mainly order packaging printing to use the InSite Prepress Portal System. "We want to offer customers a range of packaging and boxes for any new design," he said. "In this way, we'll be using the InSite System mainly as an information tool, but it will also help us work much more efficiently."
Moving ahead of the competition
Offset Vandevelde has been using the Prinergy PowerPack Workflow and Insite Prepress Portal System for 18 months, and is very satisfied with the results: "We've not experienced a single fault with the software. The link with the MIS system won't pose a problem for the Kodak Unified Workflow Solution and will enable us to finally implement full CIP4 automation."
Vandevelde believes the partnership with Kodak has put the company on a strong footing for future growth. "We're in a very healthy position, not just from a technology perspective, but also because we haven't had to take on lots of new staff to reach this point," he told us. "Our collaboration with Kodak will have a big part to play in how we continue to move forward in the future."