Packaging Innovation
January 14, 2020

Esko WebCenter vs Generic MIS Investment – The Big Debate

At Esko we frequently see business managers across the packaging supply chain wrestling with their decision-making on investing in a management information system (MIS) and becoming conflicted about why they need an additional specialist solution for the preproduction department. Why should a tradeshop or packaging converter require two software solutions to ensure the business is running to its optimum performance? Can one solution really not ‘do it all’?

Contemporary MIS solutions are viewed as the backbone of any organization – gathering data from multiple online systems in the company, analyzing the information and producing reports to aid management decision-making. Operating predominantly across the Finance, Shipping, HR, Manufacturing, Inventory and R&D departments, today’s software can manage projects, processes and products across a business to produce metrics and reports that drive the business forward. However, when it comes to managing the graphical data management process, many generic MIS solutions fall down.

First, incoming files often require fixing before the prepress process can begin and pdf editing is prone to introducing human error into the process that needs to be identified. Efficient graphics file management involves handling extremely large, complex and inter-related files through a number of steps that require accuracy, efficiency and most importantly, consistency. What the operator sees on screen needs to marry with what the prepress process outputs, otherwise rework and waste levels can quickly climb. While a generic MIS system may be able to manage the file through the system, it will not have the ability to interrogate the CAD or graphic file to identify issues and errors and rectify them pre-production.

File management in generic MIS solutions can be inflexible and often too weak to handle the sheer size and complexity of required data files. The necessary inter-relationships between files are often omitted and metadata modelling can also be weak and inflexible. Generic systems do not recognize the specific adjustments that need to be made for a lithographic versus flexographic press for example, nor cope with specific customer languages or regulatory requirements.

Since printers obviously have to modify the incoming files to fix issues, they need to get approval from customers before they can push the file to production process. MIS systems neither offer high quality online viewing capabilities nor sophisticated annotation and approval management. And in some cases, customer may demand to see the packaging assets in 3D-Structure & graphics combined- to check the final product appearance with print effects.”

Once the job is complete, a suitable digital asset management system is required to enable reuse of assets for repeat jobs or versioning and again is often missing, resulting in reduced prepress process efficiency. With today’s highly security conscious brand and rights managed business environment, software security is also often sadly lacking, unable to accommodate external partners in the system or let customers in to share and approve files reducing speed to press.

Generic MIS systems are often unable to link to external equipment – directly to the digital imager for example – and do not flexibly integrate preflighting requirements. This leaves the truly integrated prepress workflow strategy behind and requires a stepped process from artwork to production, reducing speed, efficiency and wasting important time and resources.

In order to deliver a truly integrated MIS solution that can handle, interrogate and effectively manage large graphics files, as well as link with external parties, hardware, CAD systems, dies and deliver versioning capability into the print production context, specialist software is required that is specifically designed to maximize the performance of the preproduction stage.

Esko WebCenter is a powerful and user-friendly, web-based platform that is specifically designed to manage the packaging preproduction specification, approval and project life cycle and deliver right first time print with appropriate reporting, metrics and process optimization.

This specialist solution is specifically designed by prepress experts to address the nuances of the prepress environment and should be considered the beating heart of any business-wide MIS system, complementing the drive for process optimization and data visibility, by managing and stabilizing what can be the most complex part of the business operation – the file submission, prepress and approval process. Not only does Esko WebCenter bring solutions to these specific current propositions, but importantly it also provides the foundation for additional automation and optimization and is the cornerstone of future efficiency improvement.

By enabling customers to interact with WebCenter through the online approval process, printers are demonstrating their aspiration and commitment to improving their business and ensure maximum efficiency is achieved on behalf of their customers. Indeed, many printers who have invested in WebCenter even reference the software tool in their marketing material as evidence that they are successfully modernizing their business.

Esko WebCenter should be considered a complementary software to business MIS solutions and mandatory to prepress management when considering the multiple benefits accrued when integrating the benefits of both technologies.

About Esko

Esko, a Danaher company, is a global provider of integrated software and hardware solutions that digitize, automate and connect the go-to-market process of consumer goods.  Esko connects people, processes and tools to meet the needs of global brands and the people who trust them.  

Esko customers bring consumer products to life with accuracy, efficiency and speed. Packaging for 9 out of 10 major brands is produced by Esko customers today. 

Headquartered in Gent, Belgium, Esko employs 1800 people worldwide with a unique focus on the packaging sector. To find out more, please visit www.esko.com