Kehl, Germany and Wilmington, MA USA – Adare Digital Solutions, a leading global marketing communications provider, is streamlining the packaging production process for clients using DALIM SOFTWARE's TWIST, DIALOGUE and MISTRAL technology integrated with the Prism WIN management information system (MIS). Adare's JDF-enabled, web-based workflow and production management system lets it effectively manage the entire packaging supply chain, from creative to delivery, for its top-tier consumer product customers.
Based in Suffolk, England, Adare Advantage, and its studio, Starfish, deliver comprehensive premedia digital solutions to its packaging customers, explains Steve Balderson, Digital Solutions Director, Adare. Modular in design, Starfish offers secure web-based tools for workflow, store profiling, campaign planning and management, online proofing of creative work, digital asset management, print sourcing, fulfilment, distribution and real-time tracking for all marketing and POS collateral.
The integration of Prism's and DALIM SOFTWARE's suite of products was a collaborative effort, mapped out by Paul Shorten, IT Systems Manager for Adare. At the time, JDF was relatively new, but "DALIM SOFTWARE and Prism did all the tough work," says Shorten. "From our perspective, it was a culture shift. However, we could not envision going back."
The job process begins with MISTRAL, DALIM SOFTWARE's production management/job tracking system, which is also the customer-facing system. Once customer project information is entered into the system Prism WIN takes the data from MISTRAL, acting as the hub for Adare's customized JDF-based workflow. Prism WIN, says Balderson, "can give us an estimate of how long the job will take. We can get a breakdown of machine and operator speeds-we have a scoreboard of how well they are doing. We can see if there is waste, or a breakdown, or whether a plate had to be remade, all at the click of a button."
Prism WIN delivers the customer data to a separate production workflow for job execution, and also returns it to MISTRAL, which serves as the customer's portal into production.
Notes Shorten, "Prior to JDF, once you took data from one system to another, it was like a black hole. You couldn't send data easily the other way to see what was happening."
While jobs are travelling along the packaging workflow, Prism WIN is communicating project status seamlessly with MISTRAL. JDF integration allows for automated, two-way real-time communication between the two systems throughout the entire production process. Information regarding status changes, such as if artwork has been approved and whether or not files have been received, are immediately communicated between the two systems, ensuring the customer is kept in the loop throughout the entire job.
"Adare's workflow gives complete visibility, for the customer, production and the Studio, says Shorten. "Everyone sees where everything is. MISTRAL is totally integrated and branded, and does not look any different from any of Adare's other web pages."
Meanwhile, within the production workflow, PDFs are created using design and prepress software specific to packaging, and then sent to TWIST, which automates preflighting and file routing between customers. The DIALOGUE engine handles the entire approval process, allowing document sharing, viewing and collaboration without time-consuming file transfers.
Flexibility is a key component of the workflow's efficiency. "We have a number of customers, but nobody wants the same thing," says Balderson. "Everyone wants something different. We conduct three demos a week for different customers, in pharmaceutical, retail, marketing - even pet food. The jobs all follow a similar route: the project is created; it goes through approvals, and then forward to the printer. In-between, however, the path is completely different for every customer. We need the flexibility. Both DALIM SOFTWARE and Prism WIN deliver this."
The streamlined, efficient workflow lets Adare handle large numbers of jobs simultaneously. "For the way we use jobs on the day-to-day basis, we would need an army of administrators to work with each job," says Balderson. "There are so many departments to track where a job is, and so many different variables."
Adds Shorten, "Recently, we received 170 jobs from one customer. We loaded it with variable time lines for different plants and people and tracked and managed it on our system, in real time. With 170 jobs, there may be 50 people in every approval loop, and there are typically 3-4 approval loops. That's a lot for just one job. The Prism-DALIM SOFTWARE workflow reigns in all of the chaos. It brings in all the connectivity into one place."
Adare's satisfaction with the current workflow hasn't stopped its quest for ongoing improvement. Plans are in the works for building a workflow that delivers even more productivity. "We are planning a road map to the (DALIM) ES platform," says Balderson. "It will be a big, positive change for our customers. With the couple of thousand users we have, located all over the world, we are anticipating speed improvements. We also want to capture data and use Prism WIN to see how long it takes to do things, which will help us build a more productive workflow for the Studio. It's all about business and production efficiencies, and we believe Prism and DALIM SOFTWARE can - and is - helping."