Online Proofing, Approval and Large Format Workflow Enables Image Craft to Achieve Near-Lights-Out Prepress Workflow
Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Press release from the issuing company
Image Craft began its life more than 30 years ago as a photo lab, transforming itself first into a custom photo lab, then a digital imaging company and finally a wide format printer, riding the wave of innovation as technology advanced. Today the company is a leading provider of fine art photographic prints and out-of-home advertising.
With locations in Phoenix and Denver, Image Craft has 76 employees, a broad portfolio of wide format printing solutions and an extensive fabrication department that designs and produces everything from custom trade show booths and kiosks to high-end signage and building wraps. Image Craft services also include nationwide installation of its creations.
Image Craft had a largely manual workflow and the company was seeking a way to automate the workflow in conjunction with an MIS upgrade. Doug Madeley joined Image Craft in 2013 with a mandate to take on this challenge.
With an average of 230 files received every day, and peak numbers nearing 400, prepress was the logical area to begin in terms of workflow automation. “We had one person dedicated to retrieving and preflighting files,” says Madeley, Vice President of Operations, “and that was simply not sustainable, nor was it making the best use of our prepress talent.”
Madeley hired Dan Reid from RPI Imaging to help address this challenge. “After review and analysis, he recommended the tFLOW online proofing, approval, collaboration and large format workflow system from Tucanna,” Madeley explains. “While tFLOW has two modules—Approval and Production—our initial problem was processing all of the incoming files without having to add additional prepress technicians, so we focused our initial efforts on implementing tFLOW Approval. At the same time, Image Craft was updating its aged MIS system.
“These two initiatives are the beginning of our next wave of innovation,” Madeley adds.
Image Craft is implementing tFLOW Approval with several customers, who have agreed to use tFLOW Approval for file submission, job status monitoring, and online proofing and approval instead of the mix of FTP, Dropbox, email, personal delivery and phone calls to move a job into the production process. “One of our biggest challenges is customer education,” Madeley comments. “People are busy, and change can often be intimidating. But we are continuing to talk with customers about the time and dollar savings that tFLOW Approval offers, and we will win over a growing number of customers during 2015. In the end, it saves time for everyone.”
Another customer advantage, according to Madeley, is overall cycle time. “With the number of files we receive every day,” he explains, “you can imagine that it might be hours or even days after a file is submitted before a prepress technician actually opens it. If there are problems with the file, this only further delays our ability to get it into production. With our tFLOW Approval customers, we are seeing a near-lights-out prepress process that means we can get jobs into production almost immediately. This is a huge competitive advantage for us and for our customers.”
Within tFLOW Approval, Image Craft establishes profiles for preflighting. Depending on the profile, tFLOW Approval will notify the project manager, sales or the client via email whether the file status is pass or fail, and if it failed, what the issue is so it can be taken care of. If the file passes preflight, it moves right into Image Craft’s prepress workflow with a proof automatically delivered to the client via tFLOW Approval. That means that the client can literally receive and approve a proof within minutes of successful preflighting as opposed to hours or days without workflow automation.
“Clients can also comment on anything within the file using Approval,” Madeley says, “and that starts a one-to-one dialog between us and the customer. That’s really a bonus.”
Next quarter, Image Craft will be integrating tFLOW Approval with CRC for an even more efficient business and production workflow. “We also have our eye on tFLOW Production,” Madeley says. “It will be a busy 2015, but we expect the effort to be worth it in terms of better competitive positioning, a more efficient and profitable operation, and a more exciting work environment for our employees.”
Madeley also credits the Tucanna staff for much of Image Craft’s current and anticipated successes with tFLOW. “We are excited to be working with a smaller, very nimble company like Tucanna,” he concludes.
“I can pick up the phone anytime and talk to someone. Tucanna also has a number of customers in businesses similar to ours, so they really understand what we are trying to accomplish. It can be frustrating to navigate through processes in larger companies and turnaround time for enhancements or bug fixes can be lengthy. We appreciate working with a customer-oriented company like Tucanna. They are just as concerned about our business as we are.”
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