OTTO Motors and Significans Automation Are Bringing Mobile Material-Handling Robots to Printing and Packaging Industry

OTTO Motors, a leading provider of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for production, has signed a partnership agreement with Significans Automation Inc. to bring AMR material handling technology to the Printing and Packaging space in the Americas.

OTTO Motors makes flexible, intelligent, autonomous mobile robots for material handing in production facilities and warehouses.

AMRs are advanced robots designed to transport raw and work-in-progress materials throughout the factory floor in pedestrian-heavy areas. AMRs have been proven to be more efficient and cost-effective than humans, conveyors, or fixed-path transporters.

In fact, OTTO AMRs were found to be only 10% the cost of a full-time equivalent for manual cart movement and only 20% of the costs associated with a driver and forklift.

Significans Automation specializes in delivering next-generation automation to companies who are striving to meet the fast-turnaround demands of e-commerce print, packaging, and personalization.

With the new partnership, Significans can now offer customers true end-to-end solutions.. In addition to integrating business, prepress, and production workflows, Significans can help incorporate efficiency-enhancing robotics.

“As the print and packaging industry moves towards automation, material handling remains one of the most challenging processes to automate.” said Rick Baker, CRO of OTTO Motors. “Implementing an intelligent, flexible and scalable material-handling system with autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can help solve this problem.”

“Significans’ goal has always been to unify our front-end software automation services with back-end robotic solutions,” said Sean Davis, Significans Automation’s Director of Technology, “This partnership marks the beginning of an exciting future for our customers.”

“We went through an extensive search to find the right robotics partner. We recognized the tremendous power and flexibility of OTTO’s single grid to control every robotic process in the environment,” says Marc Raad, President of Significans Automation. “It’s one grid, one integration, and one truly unified production platform.”

“Significans Automation has done incredible work to help innovate and automate graphics operations and workflows in preparation for a robotic future,” adds John Stikes, Director, Strategic Alliances of OTTO Motors. “As a trusted member of the OTTO Motors Partner Network, Significans Automation now offers AMR technology to help their customers tackle labor shortages, scale their businesses, and outperform the competition.”

About OTTO Motors

OTTO Motors is the industrial division of Clearpath Robotics. OTTO provides autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for material handling inside manufacturing facilities and warehouses. Customers include Fortune 100 brands such as GE and Toyota.

OTTO AMR at door factory
Significans Automation and OTTO Motors are working together to introduce cutting edge offerings to meet specific business requirements of the packaging and printing industry. In this photo, an OTTO autonomous mobile robot moves pallets of patio doors.

About Significans Automation

Significans Automation Inc. specializes in delivering next-generation automation to the Printing and Packaging industry. The company offers programming and expertise in custom workflow development, communication and project management, color management, prepress training, and end-to-end business integration. The company is driven by the conviction that customized automation is the only path forward.

For more information about Autonomous Mobile Robots for printers and packaging converters, please contact Marc Raad at marc.raad (at) significans.com or call 1-877-463-4465.

Wallace Carlson Printing Adds EFI PrintFlow Dynamic Scheduling Software

Workflow automation is becoming increasingly important to all types and sizes of printing businesses. But not every company is progressing at the same rate. This case study from EFI (Electronics for Imaging, Inc.) illustrates how one commercial sheet-fed printing business has approached the adoption of more automation.

Wallace Carlson Printing in Minnetonka, MN, specializes in marketing collateral, retail and product catalogs, packaging, secure packaging, and direct mail. They serve clients in the pharmaceutical, financial, corporate, and education sectors.

The company recently added EFI PrintFlow dynamic scheduling software to the existing EFI Midmarket Print Suite that Wallace Carlson uses to direct its business and production management functions.

The company had been scheduling jobs manually, which can be time-consuming. With PrintFlow, the company expects the scheduling process to be more concise and transparent, which will help the business continue to improve and grow.

EFI PrintFlow Logo

About EFI PrintFlow

EFI PrintFlow uses an advanced optimized rules engine to address the specific scheduling issues that complicate the manual scheduling processes. This includes criteria such as machine capabilities, operator availability, tooling availability, job requirements, material availability and other scheduling constraints.

The software automatically identifies the most efficient, cost-effective path for each job by optimizing equipment use, minimizing make-ready time, reducing wasted materials, and ensuring on-time delivery.

PrintFlow generates automated, up-to-the-minute sequenced and synchronized run lists that keeps equipment users informed while helping business owners build a more efficient, profitable business. It eliminates the guesswork and manual juggling of variables that can affect the online delivery of overlooked jobs.

“I’m really optimistic that we will recognize efficiencies in all areas,” said Wallace Carlson Chief Operating Officer Charlie Cox. “This efficiency will come from tighter scheduling of the press department and less non-chargeable time as the job moves from prepress to production to finishing.”

“We spend a fair amount of time in the company asking, What’s next? Is this ready? or Is that ready?” said Cox. “You add that up over a year, and it’s a lot of wasted time.”

“Clients will be able to get their products to market faster, which is a win-win for us and them,” he added.

Part of a Series of Print Workflow Automation Decisions

The impetus to improve the workflow at Wallace Carlson began five years ago when company leaders realized they would need to adopt newer, advanced equipment and software systems before they would be ready for the potential gains that artificial intelligence and robotics could offer.

Two years into that initiative, Wallace Carlson purchased the EFI Midmarket Print Suite, a comprehensive workflow that uses EFI Pace MIS/ERP software at its core.

Last year, after investing nearly $4 million in equipment and operations, Cox felt it was important to focus on training and reworking processes and procedures to ensure that the company was making maximum use of the capabilities in the Midmarket Print Suite.

Enhancing scheduling was the next logical step for the company.

“We knew the time would come when we’d have to implement more of an electronic scheduling module,” said Cox. “We looked at other offerings, but PrintFlow just seemed to really dominate. And with its compatibility with the EFI Pace MIS/ERP, it just made perfect sense to bolt it on and tie it all together.”

“We’ve had a nice growth trajectory for probably the last three years,” said Cox. “Even with the pandemic, we’re still going to post some growth this year.” The PrintFlow investment will help Wallace Carlson tighten up internal processes, ensuring that growth doesn’t come at the expense of productivity.

“We’ve always strived to be on the cutting edge of newer technology, software, equipment, and automation,” said Cox. “That was always our differentiator, pulling away from the rest of the pack and putting ourselves in a little bit of blue water.”

About EFI

EFI is a global technology company that develops breakthrough technologies for the manufacturing of signage, packaging, textiles, ceramic tiles, building materials, and personalized documents. The company offers a wide range of printers, inks, digital front ends, and a comprehensive business and production workflow suite that transforms and streamlines the entire production process. (www.efi.com)

See How to Integrate Dataline’s MultiPress MIS/ERP Software with Agfa Apogee and Asanti Workflows

Integrating MIS/ERP software for business operations with automated job processing and workflow systems can help print shops achieve higher profitability, gain more time for core activities, and provide better service to their customers. To see how this can be achieved, register for the virtual event that Dataline and Agfa will present March 11, 2021.

The presentation will demonstrate how to connect Dataline’s MultiPress MIS/ERP software to the digital front end of Agfa’s Apogee and Asanti prepress and job production workflows.

Multipress MIS/ERP software helps print business managers oversee daily administrative, financial, production, and logistics processes. It also supports job planning, e-business, and reporting.

Dataline and Agfa Virtual Event March 11

The Dataline/Agfa event on March 11 will highlight what next-level automation and optimized efficiency really mean for an everyday printing operation.

In-depth presentations will discuss how printing companies can streamline their operations through the combination of optimum workflow management and a smart integration of administrative and business tasks.

For example, when MultiPress is connected to Agfa’s graphical workflow, JDF/JMF links can be used to create print orders in production directly from the administrative workflow. Manual intervention isn’t needed. This makes the process of creating proofs and plates, press planning, and reserving paper fully automatic.

The production process runs more smoothly and with a lower error rate, satisfying both printing companies and their customers.

Hands-on demos will show the how the software connection works, how it gets set up, and what it delivers.

Representatives from commercial offset printers and large-format inkjet printing companies will describe how the connection of both software packages makes their operations more efficient and successful.

To register for the event, visit www.studio4D48.com.

About Apogee and Asanti

The Agfa Apogee print production hub handles all job-related data required to preflight files, make impositions, send proofs, and make plates in environments that use a mix of offset printing equipment, digital presses, and wide-format printers. A cloud-based Apogee Storefront web-to-print module can easily be added to allow customers to place orders online.

The Agfa Asanti production hub manages data associated with outputting signs and displays on a variety of wide-format printing and cutting equipment. It uses the Adobe PDF Print Engine and Agfa color management to ensure consistent color and quality on jobs printed on Agfa’s wide-format and grand-format printers as well as different brands and models of printers and cutting equipment. The Asanti Storefront solution makes it easy to set up online stores for sign and display products.

Use X-Rite i1Pro 3 Plus Device to Profile Fabrics and Other Digitally Printable Materials

Now that so many different types of papers, display films, art papers, packaging materials, and fabrics can be digitally printed, the professionals who produce digital prints need more versatile color-measurement devices. X-Rite and Pantone have addressed this need with the i1Pro 3 Plus color-measurement instrument and a new X-Rite iO Automated Scanning Table.

The i1Pro 3 Plus device from X-Rite Inc. and Pantone LLC is a spectral color measurement solution specifically designed for imaging, print, and textile professionals who need advanced calibration and color profiling capabilities to support today’s wide-format and industrial printing applications.

The i1Pro 3 Plus

The i1Pro 3 Plus has been optimized for digital printing on a range of materials and surfaces, including ceramics, textiles, glass, metal, wood, vinyl, plastics, thin films, cardboard, paper, and more.

Commercial, wide-format, grand-format, packaging, and industrial printers can now create ICC profiles for almost any substrate and calibrate print production devices for the highest level of color accuracy.

Background   

As more industries turn to digital printing, customers expect print-service providers to be able to achieve accurate, repeatable color. To do this, production print equipment must be linearized and profiled for each substrate.

Traditionally used profiling devices have limited ability to measure textured, rough, or uneven surfaces. And most, can’t accommodate the many different thickness of materials that can be digitally printed today.

Many devices do not have the resolution required to ensure the highest color quality when printing detailed patterns, metallic effects, or photography images. These shortcomings lead to costly color errors and rework.  

Benefits

“The i1Pro 3 Plus builds on the success of the i1 family of products and removes the variability to create accurate ICC profiles on the widest range of materials,” said Ray Cheydleur, Printing and Imaging Product Portfolio Manager, X-Rite. “Wide- and grand-format users and industrial material printers will see immediate value by incorporating the affordable i1Pro 3 Plus into their prepress and production workflows.” He said users can expect more accurate and repeatable color, a reduction of waste, and an increased return on investment. 

A long-term X-Rite partner, EFI (Electronics For Imaging), also sees the great potential of the i1Pro Plus 3 and supports it in their latest Fiery print-management technologies: “Due to the nature of digital textile production, this large-aperture device is an excellent fit with our latest single-pass EFI BOLT high-speed textile printer. For both color management and quality control, this device will allow our customers to produce accurate color much more easily,” said John Henze, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, EFI Fiery. 

New Features

The i1Pro 3 Plus includes a number of new features. 

The larger, 8mm aperture supports new materials and substrates used in digital printing applications. 

A new polarization filter (measurement condition M3)  reduces specular highlights and shadows on fabrics and ceramics. It provides better blacks and richer colors on rough surfaces and glossy medias, such as canvas prints and fine art photo papers. 

It can simultaneously measure M0, M1 and M2 in a single pass to account for optical brighteners. This enables prepress and print operators to quickly predict how colors printed on optically brightened substrates will look under different lighting conditions.  

A longer ruler can measure the wider charts used in grand-format printing. The ruler includes an ISO-compliant white backer and removable magnetic strips on the top and sides for holding samples in place while measuring.   

A new LED illuminant  improves device reliability. The i1Pro 3 Plus allows for four measurement conditions (ISO 13655 M0; M1: D50; M2: UV Excluded, M3 Polarized).  

It supports transmission scanning for backlit film and materials used in signage. The device can measures high brightness, up to 5K NITs for ultra-bright displays. 

“We are used to seeing bumpy shadow measurements from unpolarized devices on glossy textured medias like canvas. With the new polarization feature in the i1Pro 3 Plus, our M3 measurements are dramatically smoother in the shadows – perfect in fact,” commented Scott Martin, Founder, Onsight, a workflow consultant for print, prepress, design and photography.   

New X-Rite iO Table 

X-Rite’s new i1iO Automated Scanning Table supports the i1Pro 3 Plus. This hands-free test chart reader offers automated color profiling on a variety of substrates with reduced risk of color measurement errors. It is ideal for photographers, designers, and printers who want to speed up and automate the measurement process and eliminate manual strip reading.  

The new i1iO table can be used with a variety of industrial materials including textiles, ceramics, corrugated, etc. and supports materials up to 33 mm thick, with the optional z-axis spacer. It also supports transparencies and backlit materials. 

About X-Rite 

X-Rite Incorporated is a global leader in the science and technology of color and appearance. Manufacturers, retailers, printers, photographers and graphic design houses use X-Rite products to achieve precise management and communication of color and appearance throughout their processes.

For more information, visit www.xrite.com. Connect with X-Rite on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.  

About Pantone 

Pantone provides the universal language of color that enables color-critical decisions through every stage of the workflow for brands and manufacturers.

Learn more at www.pantone.com and connect with Pantone on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn

SGIA Expo Preview: GMG Color Software Supports Automated Production

Expect to see innovative, high-end color management software in GMG Americas’ booth (2123) at SGIA Expo 2016 in Las Vegas, September 14-16. GMG Americas will demonstrate advanced solutions that wide-format graphics producers can use to manage color, produce consistent proofs, and automate production work.

“For wide-format printing firms, GMG offers three significant ‘pillars’ for exceptional printing: color quality and repeatability; the ability to provide accurate proofs on print devices other than digital presses used for production; and production automation,” asserts Bart Fret, GMG Director of Wide Format Sales. “GMG will demonstrate how all of these important goals are within the reach of every print provider.”

GMG ColorServer and GMG SmartProfiler Color Software
Whether your customers want you to produce a large-format banner, a motif wallpaper, or elegant curtain fabric, they all specify that the color must be exact.

GMG ColorServer GMG-ColorServer-500pprovides a reliable way to achieve high levels of quality and consistency, no matter which printer or digital press you use for the project. Users of GMG ColorServer can achieve highly automated workflows that oversee color for every digital press on the floor. This saves time and money for everyone involved.

GMG SmartProfiler relieves your staff of the enormous amount of work involved in separations and file conversions. Using the software wizard in GMG SmartProfiler, any employee can easily calibrate, recalibrate and profile digital and large format printing systems without advanced knowledge of color management. The software wizard guides users through each task, step-by-step.

Unlike other technologies, GMG SmartProfiler software includes useful presets for the different ink types used in large format and digital printing.

GMG ColorProof

Creating proofs on the same large-format printer or digital press you use for production. Is very inefficient. If you must substitute a different substrate to create one or two sheets for a proof, it can delay jobs that are generating income.

Using a smaller, more affordable printer for proofs makes much more sense, so your production presses can run uninterrupted. For years, GMG ColorProof has been the preferred solution for industry leaders for efficient and safe contract proofing. GMG ColorProof offers uncompromising color fidelity and is compliant with globally accepted printing standards.

Its reliability and remarkable performance make it an indispensable tool among leading color management experts. GMG ColorProof comes pre-loaded with color profiles of all common standards, so you can get started right away. To print the first proof, just select the printer, calibrate it, and you will be ready to print in just a few seconds.

PrintFactory, powered by GMG

PrintFactory, powered by GMG, is a complete production workflow software suite for printing banners, signs, and superwide graphics. Whether you run a small sign and graphics business, a medium-sized company specializing in retail graphics and posters, or a superwide-graphics business, PrintFactory can revolutionize the way you operate your print shop.

One workflow offers all the professional job preparation and file correction tools you needed to set up jobs for printing, cutting, and finishing. It includes an editor for tweaking submitted job files, one central RIP for all printers and cutters, a powerful tiling tool, industrial cutter and roll cutter support, tools for marking grommets, bleeds, folds, and pole pockets, and the ability to submit jobs from any workstation to any printer and cutter in the plant. The PrintFactory RIP can drive more than 1500 makes and models of printing and cutting devices.

PrintFactory is easy to access and quick to operate.

With a centralized color management system delivered by GMG, PrintFactory delivers exceptional color control with much easier management of digital presses.

With built-in GMG color management tools, PrintFactory also offers the latest ink optimization technology that uses a proprietary algorithm to reduce the ink consumption by as much as 20% while improving the quality of the colors in general. Print quality is stabilized and improved without any change to image quality.

 

PrintFactory can also add GMG ColorProof proofing into the workflow, increasing machine up-time and reducing waste of expensive production media and ink. With PrintFactory, powered by GMG technology, your print company can provide customers colors that are consistent throughout their entire campaign.

“With increasing color demands from brand owners, wide format printers are investing in GMG tools to ensure that the color they produce is accurate—and consistent between each and every printer,” explains Fret. “The best part is that it’s easy to do. We look forward to showing that to printers at SGIA Expo.”

About SGIA Expo

SGIA Expo is a trade show and educational conference for print-business leaders who use a combination of digital and analog printing technologies to produce many types and sizes of printed materials for brand marketers, retailers, design studios, event planners, facility designers, and product manufacturers.

SGIA members produce indoor and outdoor advertising signage and graphics, promotional products, marketing collateral, decals, apparel, vehicle wraps, fine art, retail displays, and decorative wallcoverings, glassware, textiles, and furnishings.