Ronald Whitfield, Automation Systems Manager at sign and display graphics provider PSP Retail, has five digital wide-format presses and two Kongsberg tables under his wing. In less than a year, Whitfield managed to turn PSP Retail’s bottlenecked prepress department into a one-person division that is more proficient and processes even more work than the four previous prepress operators combined. Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink, asked him how he went about it.
95% automated layouts
Following a great experience working with two Esko Kongsberg XP finishing tables, PSP Retail decided to invest in Esko’s Automation Engine to enhance and speed up the prepress process. Files come in and Automation Engine puts them in the right layout for the destined press.
Whitfield: “Making all our layouts automatic was the first step. Our presses always had to wait for us to create layouts, which would take us 30 to 40 minutes, and I got that down to minutes with Automation Engine. Our layouts are now about 95 percent automated and our presses can run continually.”
Preflighting with Automation Engine
Whitfield’s next step was creating a workflow that allowed prepress operators to simply pick ready-to-print files from a central folder without having to deal with fonts, CMYK, bleed, and so on. “Automation Engine takes care of all of those things as soon as our project managers drop the file into the folder,” Whitfield explains. “It pulls all the information through an XML file and deals with the preflighting.”
Feeding a fast machine
The next step on Whitfield’s agenda is getting Automation Engine to work a file and manage the cutting tables. “With the layouts and the workflow I’ve set up, we can have a cut file going directly to the cutting table. Our cut operators are not fully trained to implement it yet, but we’ll get there. We’re feeding a very fast machine now and we’re keeping up with it. We’re down to one person in prepress who is able to maintain the department and the workflow throughout the company from the beginning to the end.”