Maryland-based Independent Can has migrated from the Nexus platform workflow to Esko’s advanced server workflow, Automation Engine 10, streamlining its operation, reducing errors, and automating prepress tasks for dramatic increases in productivity.
Founded in 1929, Independent Can is a leader in the manufacturing of specialty decorative tins and metal lithography. Its product line has grown from the wholesaling of large cans for fresh and refrigerated foods to an extensive array of items serving a wide variety of markets, including custom-printed cookie, candy and popcorn tins. To uphold its company mission, “To be the best, not the biggest,” the company follows an unhurried and well-thought out plan of continuous investment and innovation.
Independent Can’s prepress department processes approximately 960 files annually, for printing on the shop’s KBA Metal Star six-color press with Trail UV Coater, the only one of its kind in the United States, or its Metal Star II four-color UV press. With two high-speed presses continually ready for action, time to market shrinking, and design files becoming increasingly complex, the need for a more robust yet simplified prepress workflow became apparent.
Automation Engine 10, the backbone of Esko’s Suite 10 packaging and print pre-production software, answered the call. The prepress server, installed at Independent Can in March 2011, provides high-level quality control and increased throughput and efficiency, simplifying the entire file management process and delivering extensive automation for job tracking and prepress functions. Pre-setting of repetitive tasks, such as trapping and step-and-repeat, result in reduced operator manual control and reduced errors.
“Previously, we were using around 10-12 different workflows—we had workflows for proofing, plating, an initial importing workflow and ArtPro workflows,” says Tim Downey, Prepress Manager, Independent Can. “Now, we have one workflow that we use to output a proof and for dielines; it also generates a low-res PDF for archiving. The workflow is user interactive, asking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. ‘Should I output proof? A dieline?’ The user just answers the questions and the workflow does the rest—it’s all automated.”
A main challenge (with Nexus) was that certain tasks required prepress operators to go back and forth between native Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop files and ArtPro, increasing the amount of time to complete a job as well as the possibility of mistakes being made. With designers building more intricate files with assorted complex elements, not being able to work in the native file became an issue—like when building the transparency of the image to take advantage of the substrate’s (metal) reflectivity.
“When files were taken from Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and brought into Nexus, the system would choke and wouldn’t recognize some of the filters that were being applied,” explains Downey. “With Automation Engine 10, we can stay in native Adobe applications.”
Remaining in the Adobe family also saves time when sending files to customers. “There are lots of times customers want a working Illustrator file sent back,” notes Downey. “Before, we would convert the Illustrator file to an ArtPro PDF file, and then export an Illustrator file out of ArtPro. Doing that in ArtPro, we would lose preference settings of the file; there wasn’t a smooth transition for getting the working file to the customer. Now we just send the PDF and a normalized file, and we don’t have to go in and out of Illustrator.”