"To be successful today, packaging service providers and brands owners are required to perform exceptionally well in all areas of packaging preproduction," says Carsten Knudsen, Esko President and CEO. "Brand owners must create packaging designs that resonate with consumers and that are designed, developed and produced with the utmost accuracy. Converters must execute perfectly and efficiently to remain profitable. There is also a need ensure regulatory compliance and to operate in an environmentally sustainable manner within the entire ecosystem. Above all, everyone throughout the entire packaging supply chain must be able to work together effectively to achieve these goals."
Esko Suite 14 builds on Esko's years of packaging preproduction expertise and features breakthrough developments as a result of ongoing investment in innovation, and based on feedback received from brand owners, packaging converters and industry thought leaders.
Knudsen adds, "In the Suite 14 development process, Esko concentrated its resources on addressing five key trends in packaging preproduction: increasing importance of workflow automation; the use of Smart Templates to handle package variations; quality as the most important driver; a more task-focused software user interface to drive increased efficiency; and integration of the supply chain and data-sharing via the cloud.
"The result is Esko Suite 14, bringing together a family of solutions that provides all parties in the packaging preproduction supply chain with the resources they need to succeed in this dynamic market. We believe that the Esko software Suite is the broadest and deepest collection of professional software tools available today in the package production industry."
According to Esko, Suite 14 includes a wide range of breakthrough improvements and enhancements that support these key trends in the packaging preproduction market. Each element has been fine-tuned to better meet the needs of the entire supply chain. Details of each of the enhanced Suite 14 modules follow.
Improved connectivity leads to faster turnaround times and reduced errors. WebCenter 14, now a 64-bit application and supporting HTML 5 for the Viewer, offers easy-to-implement connectivity with third-party solutions. Interconnectivity among Esko products is also boosted with WebCenter 14. Seamless data transfer between WebCenter and packaging editors such as ArtiosCAD and Adobe Illustrator guarantee better utilization of centrally managed assets and information.
Suite 14 includes a broader and more sustainable integration framework that goes well beyond the boundaries of XML and JDF by standardizing the way third-party solutions are integrated with any Esko component. This Connect software kit enables users to further remove manual activities from the packaging preproduction process, driving end-to-end automation. Connect allows for easy integration with all wide-ranging third-party solutions as MIS, shipping systems, popular web applications such as Google Maps, or other web portal or cloud-based solutions.
In addition, a series of new color tasks are now integrated into the Automation Engine. This ensures consistent color through automated color management. Automation Engine now automatically converts brand colors to a fixed ink setting using Equinox profiles, reducing the need for spot colors and increasing press productivity and quality while reducing overall ink usage.
With the updated ArtiosCAD editor, users have more time to be creative and will spend less time clicking buttons. Users can now create more accurate BOM's in less time with the new BOM capability available directly from the ArtiosCAD browser. Other enhancements increase designer productivity when preparing designs for production and improve die-press efficiency as well.
Suite 14 also gives ArtiosCAD users more realistic 3D visualization when folding corrugated and paper board, setting more realistic expectations for clients when presenting designs.
This update of ArtiosCAD also features a number of improvements for die making manufacturers, resulting in higher precision and productivity. This includes single-click options for filling a line or path with nicks and configurable options for driving various output devices to reduce the time it takes to get a design into production. Enhancements to the die-board bolt hole mounting pattern tool allows users to select mounting holes more quickly and efficiently, optimizing die-press efficiency.
3D tools are increasingly important in the packaging design and preproduction processes to ensure as early as possible in the process that the final product meets the needs of all stakeholders. Esko Suite 14 includes a number of enhancements to its 3D capabilities.
- Visualizer effects in Illustrator: Suite 14 lets users of Studio Designer go beyond the normal 3D view to add special effects and finishing details when creating packaging graphics in Illustrator. This streamlined solution brings enhanced speed and enables better creative decision making during the design and review process.
- Store Visualizer: Created in partnership with VTales Graphics, Esko Store Visualizer lets users place virtual objects in photographed scenes, enabling them to see their designs in an in-store setting to determine how they compare with competitive products. The integration of an innovative LOD (Level Of Detail) system gives users enhanced speed when rendering virtual store views, especially in environments with vast numbers of 3D models. Suite 14 ships with three pre-established hyper-realistic environments that help users quickly and easily see what their 3D products will look like in a store environment.
- Studio: Two new and one enhanced flexible bag types are available in Suite 14, including the popular quattro seal bag. In addition, the new version of Studio includes an Augmented Reality viewer for mobile devices which is perfect to share and view 3D packaging designs in context for quick comparisons and informed decision making.
"At Esko, we are in close contact with our customers and industry thought-leaders," says Bernard Zwaenepoel, senior vice president of Software Business. "We are aware of the many challenges that are involved in packaging preproduction and have worked hard to incorporate as many solutions to those challenges as possible in this release. That is why everyone at Esko is so proud of Suite 14. From extensive previews and testing at customer sites, we know the impact it will have on improving various aspects of the process, and, most importantly, the way in which it will make our customers even more successful."