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Esko-Graphics introduces Scope workflow environment

Press release from the issuing company

Gent (Belgium), March 1, 2004 – At DRUPA 2004, Esko-Graphics, the world leader in pre-production tools for the packaging industry and a major supplier of CtP systems for commercial printing, will proudly introduce Scope, the most advanced workflow environment extending and integrating its many software products for commercial print and packaging service providers. Scope covers a wide range of functions, from job and product specification, through graphic and structural design and expert pre-production operations, to platemaking for printing and toolmaking for converting. Scope adds capabilities for project coordination, digital asset management and distributed proofing and approval, enabling the many partners and stakeholders across the entire supply chain to communicate and collaborate globally, effectively and in real time. The Scope framework leads to system configurations that easily adapt to the specifics of individual businesses, and facilitate communication and collaboration across the supply chain in a global networked environment. Scope workflows consistently use recognized industry data formats for smooth integration with existing software and business applications, and ensure a platform for future evolution. An industry under pressure The printing and publishing industry is undergoing fundamental changes. Print is slowly losing its “medium of choice” status for commercial communication, and packaging buyers look where they can next eliminate cost from the supply chain. Many print buyers tend to consider commercial print services as a near-commodity: they believe most printers deliver a very similar end product, often using similar methods and equipment. Many of those printers compete with their peers by either extending the services they offer their customers, or by engaging in a price war – a very dangerous strategy under today’s economic conditions. In packaging markets, the major print buyers – large (consumer) product companies and, increasingly, international retailers – go beyond setting deadlines and cost and quality targets: they now participate actively in the project management, revision and approval processes. Having dealt with globalization and consolidation for many years, packaging companies heavily rely on distributed collaborative workflows. The printing and packaging industry clearly is in need of a comprehensive workflow approach that is designed to optimize processes throughout the entire supply chain. Both print service providers and print buyers require a solution that increases throughput and efficiencies, eliminates communication and operator error, and reduces lead times and inventories. Simply stated: a solid concept that fulfills the vital business needs and improves the profit margins for all parties involved. Esko-Graphics’ response: the Scope workflow environment “Our Scope workflow environment is a perfect implementation of Esko-Graphics’ philosophy in response to today’s business requirements,” explains René Delbar, Senior Vice-President of Marketing. “Our vision is summarized in a simple motto: clear ideas, smart tools, more value. These concepts not only guide our product development, but also drive our approach to distribution and customer services.” Esko-Graphics has developed a deep insight into printing and packaging processes, based on the experience and feedback of its thousands of customers. That knowledge is used to expand proven methods and products with new innovative features – the cumulative result of hundreds of man-years of applications research and software development. Esko-Graphics products thus become smart tools that solve real-life problems in intelligent ways. They enable customers to improve productivity, lower error rates, reduce cost-of-ownership, and increase the return on their investments. “Scope is the next logical step from our many years of industry leadership,” continues Delbar. “No other single supplier can match Esko-Graphics’ portfolio of dedicated, professional software tools. Thanks to widely accepted industry standards for data interchange and instant global networking, it finally all comes together to create an end-to-end workflow environment for the printing and packaging supply chains.” Mixing and matching from a broad portfolio of advanced software components, Scope workflow configurations are specifically matched to the application, process and business needs of individual customers. Esko-Graphics will be presenting real-world examples of Scope workflows for a wide range of market segments: commercial printing; book, catalogs and magazine printing; tags & labels; flexible packaging; folding cartons; corrugated converting; and displays and POP. Scope cornerstones Scope workflow configurations are flexible and fully scaleable to the needs of the individual customer. Scope components range from smart desktop application plug-ins, through expert workstation software, all the way up to process automation and asset management servers. Other, more peripheral, partners in the supply chain – print buyers, brand and product managers, account managers, financial controllers and operations supervisors – can tap into Scope’s databases and processing resources through easy-to-use, easy-to configure web interfaces, or through standardized JDF and XML links with ERP, plant management or other business systems. Scope promotes horizontal synergies and intense interaction between multiple collaborating partners. The smooth interconnection and data interchange between multiple functions is guaranteed by the generalized and consequent use of broadly accepted industry data standards. To only list a few: PDF for graphics information, ARD and CFF2 for structural data, IGES and VRML for 3D information, XML and XMP for meta-data, JDF and XML for inter-process links. Through these standards, Scope seamlessly connects to components from other suppliers, and also offers broad input and output support for legacy data formats. Scope is fully network and web enabled, and hence is the ideal tool to manage multi-site, distributed design and production workflows. The modularity and open architecture of Scope configurations, combined with Esko-Graphics’ ongoing product refinement efforts, guarantee that Scope workflows will be able to adapt to, and grow with, evolving customer requirements. Scope for packaging “Esko-Graphics has its historic roots in pre-production software, providing expert tools required for consistent volume reproduction of a design. Scope pushes workflow coverage both upwards and downwards into the supply chain,” comments Jan De Roeck, Director Marketing Packaging Software. “For example, Scope embraces the most popular desktop applications such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Acrobat and turns them into fully featured clients. Desktop users thus can interact with each other and with CAD and graphics experts, launch tasks on Scope servers, and access project information stored in centralized databases.” Scope seamlessly integrates graphics and structural design with production and project management. Detailed job specifications and parameters are defined from the start, and are automatically applied throughout the entire process to ensure standards-based, error-free processing. Scope’s BackStage workflow server is also JDF enabled. This means that any server task can be initiated from a JDF ticket. For example, BackStage can receive requests to generate step and repeat layouts specified by trade shop operators or customers at remote locations. Another powerful visual collaboration tool is based on the combination between the product itself (supplied as a solid 3D model), a label applied onto it and an outer package designed around it, with full graphics, realistic 3D rendering and interactive remote viewing. Key Scope components for packaging workflow further include ArtiosCAD for structural design, PackEdge for graphics design and Plato for step and repeat; WebCenter, with its collaboration and asset management tools; FlexRIPs driving a multitude of Esko-Graphics and third party proofing and imaging devices; and dedicated screening technologies for flexo and gravure printing. Scope for commercial printing In a commercial printing environment, Scope links the traditional prepress functions with sales offices, the pressroom, the finishing and logistics department: the broad capabilities of JDF links are applied for job scheduling, remote viewing and approval, plateroom feedback, and many more. Scope configurations range from simple and straightforward, to much more automated and interconnected, reflecting application requirements and business models of various levels of printing companies. “For today’s commercial print businesses, rapid response to market demands and meeting customer requirements the first time every time are key to survival,” says Kjeld Moselund, Vice-President Marketing for Commercial Printing. “Scope is the comprehensive end-to-end workflow solution that fits these customers’ fast evolving requirements.” Here too, Scope facilitates a zero error tolerance manufacturing process to eliminate expensive delays and press schedule disruptions. Scope components add unique functionalities to handle the complex imposition schemes often used in conjunction with large format web presses, to automate the management of content and language versions, and to proof longer multi-page documents such as books, magazines and catalogs in a fast and cost effective way. “Esko-Graphics is uniquely positioned to translate its extensive know-how of packaging production into commercial printing, where companies build success and profitability by adopting similar manufacturing philosophies,” concludes Moselund. Major Scope building blocks for commercial printing include FlowDrive, Esko-Graphics’ award winning workflow server for smaller to mid-level printers; BackStage and FlexRip powered configurations for print shops requiring more automation of highly structured processes such as book and magazine publishing; and a variety of screening technologies such as the recently announced HighLine, used to reproduce very high screen rulings while imaging at standard device resolutions.