Optimizing Packaging Workflows at EskoWorld

Take an array of state-of-the-art technology that helps streamline workflows for graphic and package designers, production managers and converters. Get down in the weeds on how to make the software really perform. Then bring in the big picture of digital printing and digital workflows for packaging, and you have EskoWorld 2014.

Some 700 people converged on the Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando June 15󈝽 for a deep dive into package design and production. There were classrooms full of Mac and Windows workstations where attendees could get concentrated hands-on time learning and refining their skills in such Esko software as ArtisCAD, Visualizer, Studio, ArtPro, Imaging Engine, Visual Inspection, FlexProof and more. Other sessions offered a big picture view of the importance and value of adopting digital printing technologies and workflows, while others talked about the burgeoning growth of individualized branding aimed at increasing brands’ relationships with consumers. Attendees ranged from brand owners to package designers to converters’ production staff, all looking for ways to make anything related to packaging more efficient in design and production, and more engaging for consumers.

Esko took advantage of the event to roll out Suite 14, a collection of integrated software tools that help brand owners, premedia houses, converters, sign and display producers, and commercial printers manage today’s complex preproduction environments. Bernard Zwaenepoel, senior vice president for Esko’s Software Business and a team of product experts showed how Suite 14’s various tools addressed five key trends in packaging production: workflow automation; use of templates to handle variations in package design; ensuring quality; increasing efficiency; and improving supply chain integration and data-sharing. Each demo drew an ovation from an audience that was there to learn: no one was leaving the room. Most impressive was the level of integration among the different tools, which seem logical and relatively easy to use.

To my eye, one of the more interesting modules was Store Visualizer. Created in partnership with VTales Graphics, Store Visualizer enables designers to view their work in a three-dimensional in-store setting to see how they compare with competitive products. Suite 14 ships with three photo-realistic environments that help users see what their 3D products will look like on the shelf.

Enhancing the event were over a dozen partner vendors who shared how their respective technologies augment Esko’s offerings and add value to the packaging design and production process. One interesting offering was Proofware from Global Vision. Proofware is a file comparison tool—a preflight tool on steroids, if you will—that can compare, identify and highlight changes between original and proof versions of a package or label design. It spots misspelled words, font errors, color spaces and even flawed bar codes. It can be server- or cloud-based to facilitate collaboration across multiple locations.

Another was CHILI Publish, which addresses several challenges in package design. Essentially a 3D CAD program purpose-built for packaging, CHILI shows package designers how packages will look, how cartons will fold and the way labels will be positioned on cartons and bottles. That eye candy is cool enough, but because it was originally built for publishing environments, CHILI’s content management capabilities are important for the changing world of shorter run lengths and varying content on packages. It lets users better manage changing content, an important ability in a time when brands may change their look and feel every 18 months and when new labeling regulations are fast approaching.

There was still more EskoWorld and we’ll get to that in other stories. Stay tuned.

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