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nothing is perhaps as useful or as prized in this industry as realworld advice. Industry peers and vendors alike relish input from "the trenches," from professionals using high-end equipment day in and day out. Especially in this day of economic uncertainty, real-world advice can mean the difference between a positive and a negative bottom line. In this fourth annual special feature, an array of industry vendors cast a spotlight on one of their most innovative customers. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to achieve excellence in new and innovative ways.
With Mass Transit, Schawk Chicago trims time of the approval process
Group Logic nominates Schawk Chicago as its Excellence in Innovation candidate for 2001. This division of Schawk Inc., a leading global network of image-management specialists, provides end-to-end solutions to the consumer products packaging, point of sale, and advertising industries worldwide. It has a completely digital workflow, from design through platemaking. It offers a broad range of in-house services, such as digital asset management. Additionally, it brings in-depth image-management expertise to all its projects. The firm's clients include some of the biggest names in the food and beverage, cosmetics and beauty, pharmaceutical and consumer, and electronics marketplaces.
Schawk Chicago specializes in developing digital imaging solutions for the flexographic and offset markets. A pioneer in computer-to-plate, it constantly evaluates emerging technology to meet its clients' digital imaging needs. Where appropriate, it leverages the technical expertise of other firms, such as Group Logic, to find cost-effective Solutions to eliminate design and production bottlenecks.
Schawk Chicago does considerable package design and design maintenance for consumer clients. Its clients are extremely demanding, since millions worldwide see their packaging. It's not unusual, then, for Schawk to generate several different iterations of a packaging design, along with both black-and-white and color representations, during the approval process, which may take several cycles to complete. Invariably, these projects have tight deadlines. Schawk Chicago uses MassTransit Enterprise, with its remote proofing capabilities, to streamline the review and approval cycle, saving its clients time and money. After creating a design, the image-management firm generates a PostScript file and transfers it to a printer located at a client's facility for output. MassTransit's email notification feature alerts the client's staff that a file has arrived so that the appropriate staff members can retrieve it from the output device and review it. Changes are sent back to Schawk and another iteration produced. Schawk Chicago also uses MassTransit Enterprise to transfer digital files to other Schawk facilities within its division and to upstream and downstream suppliers, boosting the firm's quality of service and ability to meet deadlines.
Reid Lewis, president
DALIM AND BLANCHARD SYSTEMS
Mahaffeys' quality printing gets high performance with Linux-based DALiM software workflow
If you wonder whether Linux is a viable, high-powered platform, many of our customers are operating DALIM Software's Linux-based TWiST, LiTHO, and SWING software right now. We commend one pioneer who has been reaping the benefits of affordable power for a while: Mahaffeys' Quality Printing.
Mahaffeys' serves the Jackson, Mississippi, area, producing high-quality, sheetfed, and flexographic printing. While its standards have remained high, Mahaffeys' technology has changed dramatically, providing it a reputation as a leader for innovative printing techniques and process automation.
"We've always been first in technology in the mid-south," says Tim Mahaffey, vice president. "We've always blazed a trail that others have followed."
Mahaffeys' Linux roots go bock to 1997. Production manager Jeff Wall wasn't happy with an NT production platform, yet wasn't able to afford high-end Unix servers. He sow Linux as a possible alternative and in 1997 installed his first Linux box as an FTP server. Linux proved itself so well that Mahaffeys' looked for more graphic arts-centered applications.
After installing Hellos Ethershare (an AppleShare file and print application) in 1999, Mahaffeys' began looking for more ambitious software. At DRUPA 2000, Jeff visited DALiM Software, sow TWiST and LiTHO running Linux, and was convinced it was a powerful solution for in-line trapping, automation, and PDF workflows.
At first Mahaffeys' was just looking for a system that could accept all file formats. As Jeff says, "We provide fast-turnaround, short-run color. In our business, we can't refuse any files." Mahaffeys' was amazed at the power and flexibility of TWiST.
Mahaffeys' believes the stability and performance of Linux with DALiM Software is unsurpassed. The staff is very happy with the horsepower of the affordable, open-system hardware, providing extraordinary flexibility and performance.
Once Mahaffeys' imports a PDF or PostScript file, TWiST does the rest. "Any technological improvement means more breathing room for our staff," Jeff explains.
Mahaffeys' is surprised at how much TWiST facilitates once-difficult jobs. For example, the printer recently worked on an extremely complex 48-page catalog. Unfortunately, it was created in 11 X 7-inch reader spreads rather than separate 8.5x11-inch pages. It would hove been tough to impose, re-creating separate pages. With TWiST they were able to input the file and automatically export imposed left and right 8.5X11-inch EPS pages with bleeds and trapping.
"There aren't many companies who are visionary enough to port extremely sophisticated and robust software to Linux--what we consider to be the server platform of the future," says Jeff. "With TWiST and LiTHO we hove some of the best tools and the most advanced workflow in the industry--no matter what the operating system." It helps to have a visionary customer.
Gee Ranasinha, director of marketing
Charles Blanchard, president
Commercial photographer goes digital with Better Light Super 6K
After nearly 20 years of shooting film, commercial photographer Glenn Martin of Digital Outback in Las Vegas, Nevada, began hearing about digital photography in 1993 and was immediately intrigued. Soon after, Martin met Michael Collette of Better Light, a digital imaging pioneer who had just released his first digital scanning back camera at a trade show.
Early adapters of digital imaging were innovators by definition, but what truly makes Digital Outback an innovator in excellence was Martin's almost immediate recognition that his biggest challenge in adapting digital technology would not be in shooting high-res, high-quality images, but in the creation of what Martin calls a "no-excuses digital imaging workflow" that provided new services, smoothed the prepress process, and saved the client money.
"I saw that digital would heavily impact workflow," Martin says, "because of the time savings. With digital, there's the potential for the photographer to have much more control over the quality of images and how they are processed and printed. I love that possibility, and the additional billings for services such as retouching, masking, dropouts, color correction and conversions, and proofing."
Digital Outback has grown to twice its pre-digital size since the early 1990s. Today, Digital Outback has five professional high-end digital cameras, including its Better Light Super 6K, and shoots 100 percent with digital. With millions in billings since going digital, the studio's success has been more than ever expected. Due to the inherent time savings, Digital Outback can produce about 50 percent more billable work with the same number of man-hours than when using film.
Michael Collette, president
Merrill Lynch speeds production process with Exstream Dialogue
Merrill Lynch Retirement services handles more than $300 billion in total retirement assets for 2.5 million plan participants and 2.6 million Individual Retirement Accounts--producing more than 2.5 million statements per quarter.
Merrill Lynch's statement, recognized to be one of the best in the retirement industry and a recipient of the prestigious DALBAR Seal of Excellence, requires software that can handle complex customization, dynamic graphs and tables, and the incorporation of targeted messages. Exstream's Dialogue was found to be the only software on the market that had the design breadth Merrill needed, and could meet the time-sensitive statement production requirements--which included speed, accuracy, and the ability to handle millions of documents in a single run. With Dialogue, Merrill put its redesigned 401(k) statements into production in five months, resulting in productivity that far exceeded its goals.
"We had a critical business need to find a more flexible solution for producing the statements," said Rich Hopkins, director of the BIS Regulatory Reporting Department. "After a thorough review of everything available on the market, we selected Dialogue for several reasons. For one, it offered the functionality needed to handle all of our data files. And because it doesn't require complex programming we were able to get our redesigned statements into production in an incredibly short timeframe, given their complexity and the huge volumes of data that must be processed accurately and with speed."
Merrill Lynch has long been recognized as a leader in statement design and presentation. It provides its customers with a level of customized information in statements that few other financial institutions currently offer. Statements are in descriptive layman's terms, and offer customization for more than 400 plan sponsors.
Working to help Merrill Lynch find a solution for producing its award-winning retirement statements was a wonderful opportunity for Exstream to explore the breadth of Dialogue. Merrill Lynch's forward-thinking strategy to increase its competitive edge by improving the quality of customer relationships is indicative of its industry leadership.
Kelley Sloane, vice president, marketing
Medibel develops adheres to and promotes PDF quality standards
Enfocus nominates Medibel the organization uniting the companies active in the Belgian advertising sector for undertaking and succeeding in the formidable job of developing of PDF standard for digital exchange of advertisements. Many thousands of advertisements are published in Belgian newspapers and magazines each year. The evolution toward a completely digital production process created the need for digital delivery of ad materials. Medibel knew this would succeed only it clear standards were defined. The standardization would move to enable to exchange of files between magazines and newspapers graphic arts and design houses and other payers in a reliable and verifiable manner. Medibel PDF as its standard formal. Enfocus software and Enfocus Certified Workflow technology, in particular pay an essential me in the standards defined by Medibel Enfocus Certified Workflow technology ensures permanent quality monitoring of exchanged PDF files.
Medibel established clear quality standards for the PDF files. Enfocus software systematically checks files against these profiles. Should a file fail to comply the user is informed immediately so that problems can be remedied before the file is seat Medibel and Enfocus also developed a marketing campaign aimed a communicating the standard to the market. As a result adoption of the new standard has occurred at a remarkable speed. Some publishers receive up to 60 percent of ads in the new standard Enfocus credits Medibel as a pioneer in successfully implementing its Enfocus certified PDF standard on a scale of such magnitude and importance. We applaud its groundbreaking good work.
Peter Camps, chief executive officer.
Pente Corporation transforms the insurance industry
Leading the variable-information revolution in the insurance industry are Liberty Health of Toronta and the Pente Corporation Liberty Health is part of the Fortune 500 Liberty Mutual Group and provides health benefit management services to more than 750,000 Canadians Pente is one of canadians largest independent communications companies specializing in direct marketing advertising and graphic desing.
To succeed in on increasingly competitive market Pente and Liberty Health realized they needed to better target health plan information packs to meet the needs of Call Center customers CreoSeltex's On-Demand system comprising the Spire CSX2000 server and the Darwin variable information authoring took provided an innovative cost effective solution Customized information packs printed on the xerox DocuColor 2060 digital color press driven by the Spire color server significantty improved customer relations and the bottom line CreoSeltex's on demand variable information printing enabled Liberty Health to provide each coller to the Call Center with on individualized health plan, suited to his or her specific needs and budget Application forms were personalized with variable copy and images and premiums were accurately and clearly presented.
The results were conclusive the lead-to-application ratio using CreoSeltex's variable print on-demand was 64 percent higher than traditional fulfillment According to Bold Pente president of the Pente Corporation Pente's utilization of CreoSeltex's print-on-demand variable information solution has dramatically increased both the quantity and quality of sales of Liberty Health Through the optimization of on-demand variable information printing not only is the entire system more streamlined than ever before but also the print process has become an integral part of the collaborative customer-building revenue producing equation.
Mark Dance president and chief operating officer
Sun Printing House grows business
By far and away, printCafe's shining star in establishing itself as an Innovative leader in the area of e-commerce strategy and execution is Sun Printing House. Sun Printing House used e-commerce as an opportunity to retool its business and propel future …