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)

Adobe Announces PDF Print Engine 5 for Printing on Multiple Surfaces

Adobe has announced version 5 of the Adobe PDF Print Engine (APPE). The Adobe PDF Print Engine is a software development kit that converts PDF job content (graphics, text, and images) to rasters for driving digital presses, wide-format printers, label printers, and platesetters. APPE is the leading rendering technology at the heart of prepress workflows in the $900 billion print industry.

The new version extends PDF Print Engine’s reliable color reproduction with new capabilities to harness the full potential of today’s digital and conventional presses. Ongoing innovations in inks and inkjet heads are creating opportunities to print on new surfaces. PDF Print Engine 5 will maximize color impact in the coming generation of textile presses, industrial print stations, and digital presses for label and packaging production.

The Adobe PDF Print Engine is deployed as part of prepress solutions developedd by Adobe print-solutions partners such as Agfa Graphics, Caldera, Canon, CGS, ColorGATE, Dalim, EFI, Epson, Esko, Fujifilm, GMG, Heidelberg, HP, Kodak, Konica Minolta, Océ, Riso, Screen, Sharp, Xanté, Xeikon, and Xerox.

From Creative Design to Remarkable Prints

The latest functionality in Adobe Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, and InDesign CC, enable designers to push the creative envelope in terms of colors and special effects.Many designers produce graphically rich files that are increasingly complex to print. PDF Print Engine 5 is optimized to precisely render these complex jobs for printing on flat and contoured surfaces including paper, plastic, fabric, metal, ceramic, glass, and food products.

The new color features in PDF Print Engine 5 strengthen support for Expanded Color Gamut (ECG) digital presses with inksets that go beyond the traditional four-color base of cyan, magenta, yellow and black to magnify the visual and tactile effects of brand messaging.

New Features

Some of the new features in Adobe PDF Print Engine include:

High-speed edge enhancement. Anti-aliasing technology renders visually smoother edges on graphic objects, even at lower resolutions. It also reduces processing times to a fraction of the time of alternative and post-rendering methods.

Enhanced Unicode support. Control parameters, file paths, and passwords now include multi-byte characters from non-Roman character sets. This increases the ease-of-use in printing text in languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

PDF 2.0 print feature support. Black-point compensation (BPC) to preserve details in image shadow areas during conversions; CxF-defined spot colors (Color eXchange Format) to enable spectral-based color management; HTO (Half-Tone Origin) to align pre-imposed objects to the device pixel-grid, ensuring identical line-screens.

Page-level output intent. Color conversions for multi-page PDF 2.0 jobs can be managed on a page-by-page basis, enabling greater flexibility and automation in prepress workflows.

“Brand managers count on accurate reproduction of vibrant designs to connect with customers,” said Adil Munshi, vice president and general manager, Print and Publishing Business Unit, Adobe. “Print jobs that are authored in Creative Cloud, reviewed in Adobe Acrobat DC, and proofed and output by Adobe PDF Print Engine 5 will now deliver the fastest rendering, best-of-breed color imaging and predictable results every step of the way.”

PDF Print Engine 5 is now available to new and long-standing Adobe solution partners who are working to integrate it into their product lines. Adobe collaborates closely with market-leading equipment vendors in commercial printing, publishing, signage, CAD/GIS, photography, packaging/labels, direct mail, textiles/garments, and other manufacturing applications that want to optimize the Adobe PDF print experience.

When deployed in the Mercury RIP Architecture on multi-core, networked or cloud platforms, PDF Print Engine 5 can be scaled to drive high-volume production on a single press or across multiple presses. Print-service providers can buy (or upgrade to) products built on the Adobe PDF Print Engine 5 later this year.

Agfa Announces Apogee 11 with PDF Print Engine 5

In July, Agfa Graphics announced that Apogee 11 prepress solution will be the first product to incorporate Adobe PDF Print Engine 5.

Agfa Apogee 11 prepress software will use Adobe PDF Print Engine 5 to prepare printing firms for full compatibility with the new PDF 2.0 standard and to output designs correctly. (Photo: Agfa Graphics)

“When Adobe launched the PDF format in 1993, Agfa immediately recognized that is robust imaging model was well-suited for the graphic arts and developed our PDF-based prepress workflows, an industry first.”” said Erik Peeters, marketing manager, Agfa Graphics. “Print has changed dramatically over the last 25 years, but the new releases of Apogee and Adobe PDF Print Engine reaffirm the value and power of PDF for predictable reproduction of complex graphics.”