The process of creating signs and displays is becoming more sophisticated, while the demands to keep up with faster wide-format inkjet printers has forced companies to re-assess how they manage their workflow. Esko recently reported that Impulse Graphic and Display Solutions Inc. (Impulse), of Mississauga, Ontario, has successfully installed Esko’s Automation Engine to reduce operator time, and automate step-and-repeat layouts to their printers and Kongsberg cutting tables. In addition, Impulse has invested in Esko ArtiosCAD to add structural design capabilities to its wide range of services.
Founded 40 years ago, Impulse Graphic & Display Solutions is a leader in retail in-store marketing, display and POS. From strategy through deployment, the company’s 35 employees are valuable partners with the people, expertise and infrastructure to make the most of in-store print and display for their client base. The comprehensive one-stop shop offers project management, creative solutions, printing, kitting and warehousing, and shipping and installing.
In 2007, Impulse invested in a high-volume flatbed printer, recently added a new hybrid printer to boost its printing capacity to over 7,000 sq. ft. per hour, and has invested in their third Kongsberg cutting table. “We felt the need to have the same family of cutting tables, moving away from another cutter brand to create consistency and greater throughput in our bindery department,” said Alexander Cachia, Impulse President. “Kongsberg tables are robust and very reliable, and cutting and printing files can be coordinated between the workflow, press and finishing tables.”
Impulse was also looking for versatility. “We wanted to customize our workflow based on the scope of work. Automation Engine could do better when compared to other systems we looked at,” recalled Cachia. “We also wanted our creative department to take advantage of other software tools Esko offers that tied into prepress. With the implementation of Esko ArtiosCAD, we now have the ability not only to create structural designs in 2D or 3D, but also link these files to Automation Engine to output to our printers and to the Kongsberg tables. This makes the prepress operation very seamless.”
Until recently, Impulse was receiving job files from ftp sites and manually sending them through a pre-flight program. One-ups were manually stepped and repeated in Adobe Illustrator, and a separate layer was created for a cut line. Once approved, the files were sent to the digital printers and cutting tables. “With a growing customer base, some of which operate more than 3,000 locations across North America, we needed a powerful tool to automate our workflow. Our most pressing need was that we wanted to reduce prepress operator time, especially for repetitive tasks,” he added. “I would say from the day we finalized the agreement and set the implementation dates, we were running in under a week. We also trained our staff very quickly. Since we had operated Esko i-cut layout before, we were familiar with what to expect.”
Impulse has been using Automation Engine for about four months. “Because of the type of client we have, we handle on average 100 files a day. We recently completed a project where we processed over 800 files through Automation Engine on a variety of substrates,” explained Cachia. “We often have to work with multiple file versions based on language, pricing regions, product offering and other variables. Automation Engine helps us plan the output more efficiently.” In the past Impulse used to create a variety of templates to step & repeat and output jobs. The company’s key operators have now customized them all within Automation Engine. What took 15 minutes per job before is now fully automated. “The operators are more efficient and we can now accept larger jobs and turn them around faster. Prepress used to be the bottleneck; now it’s pushing production,” Cachia added.
Adding structure design to their work
In addition to Automation Engine, Impulse has invested in ArtiosCAD. The need came about when they partnered with an agency that was involved in creating POP corrugated displays. It drew Impulse to seriously consider and identify the potential of having ArtiosCAD as they saw an opportunity to offer structural design to their existing clients and prospects. “We looked at the user interface and the potential of the software – and within four months we went from due diligence and ROI analysis, to installation. Structural design is a new service we’re now offering. As we gain more experience we plan on developing our own line of products. As displays becomes more innovative so must we.” Cachia pointed out. His plan is to eventually integrate Automation Engine to its new Avanti MIS, which will go live shortly. “We needed a foundation to overhaul our system and Automation Engine allowed us to build a solid foundation for years to come.”