When the printing capacity at Accent Etiketten outstripped the ability of the company’s production scheduling software, the Belgium label printer called on the services of HYBRID Software. The solution came in the form of a customised production scheduling tool within the industry-leading workflow software CLOUDFLOW.
“We operate HP Indigo digital presses and flexo presses,” says Christophe Beke, quality assurance and project manager. “We had originally written our own software for scheduling jobs, which operated within the ERP environment and had performed quite adequately. However, recent investment in our press department meant that the workload demands had overtaken what our package could handle and we estimated that to rewrite it would have taken us more than a year.
“Instead, we started examining what was available on the market and when we looked at the products from HYBRID Software we were immediately interested in the company’s potential to meet our needs. We liaised closely with its specialist team of developers in order to tailor its existing production scheduling tool to our particular requirements and this cooperation enabled us to reach our current position.”
The family run business specialises in supplying self-adhesive labels to customers throughout Belgium, France and Holland. It employs more than 60 people and operates HP Indigo 6600 and 8800 digital presses as well as eight and ten-colour flexo presses. These are in use around the clock five days a week and in addition to scheduling their workloads Accent Etiketten wanted to include its cutting and packaging facilities.
Bert Van der Perre is Sales Manager Benelux at HYBRID Software and has been heavily involved in the project. “In the new environment, job information is sent from Accent Etiketten’s MIS system directly into CLOUDFLOW using XML files,” he says. “We set up a device manager within CLOUDFLOW to define the relevant details of each machine, providing parameters that include minimum run time, setup time, production speed, number of print stations, time to change rolls and cleanup time. The solution incorporates an ‘availability calendar’ that takes into account factors such as staff holidays, maintenance, potential for extra shifts etc.
“Based on the technical details of a job and its due date as described in the XML, CLOUDFLOW checks the machine’s availability and assigns the job to the press or equipment as well as providing a given time slot. As with all of our CLOUDFLOW-based solutions, what we have created for Accent Etiketten is available as an HTML5 web interface, so this is readily accessible to other companies,” says Bert Van der Perre.
The advantages to Accent Etiketten have been numerous, with optimised scheduling of orders leading to improvements to delivery times and greater productivity. The company is a leading label printer in Belgium and during Labelexpo Europe 2017 HP Indigo presented Accent Etiketten with its award ‘Fastest Growth Champion in Northern Europe’.
Christophe Beke picks up the story. “All of our pre-press operators use HYBRID Software’s PACKZ editing software, so we already had a connection with the supplier,” he says. “Being able to liaise directly with its software engineers on this new project was excellent as this meant we benefited from extremely fast replies and solutions.
“We implemented the HYBRID Software package in two phases and have been using it with our digital presses and cutting equipment for about four months. The set up of our flexo presses is more complex so we left this for phase two, which started a few weeks ago. The training and installation have all gone well and we’ve achieved great transparency of the delivery process throughout the organisation. This new scheduling tool helps us to remain at the forefront of technology and can be utilised with any future investment made in the pressroom,” says Mr Beke.