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Suite 12.1 launched, Simon James honored at Eskoworld

By Steve Katz, Editor | May 21, 2013

In Phoenix, Esko users get a first look at Suite 12.1 and bid farewell to Artios founder Simon James.

Nearly 600 Esko users from all areas of the packaging and prepress workflow are gathered at the sprawling Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort, May 19-22, for Eskoworld, the company’s annual user meeting. The event, which is Esko’s largest to date, features 100 educational sessions, 20 industry sponsors and seven customer presentations. Recreation and team building events are also taking place, including the Esko Golf Scramble and an Old West-style cookout.

On Sunday, May 19, Esko honored Simon James for his contribution to Esko and to the packaging industry. During EskoWorld’s opening session, James was given a standing ovation by the hundreds of Esko users and representatives present. As one of the founders of ArtiosCAD, James came to the US in 1978 as the president of Lasercomb America. In that role, he was responsible for growing both the software division and manufacturing division to a global presence, creating a company with subsidiaries in the UK, South Africa and Australia. James spun off the manufacturing group to companies in various countries to focus on his software company, Artios, which introduced the industry’s most successful structural packaging design software, ArtiosCAD.

James was part of the team that sold Artios to Barco in 1998. After he sold his software company, he held a variety of positions with Barco and later Esko, ranging from VP sales Europe, president Esko North America and Esko senior VP, global marketing. James retired from Esko earlier this year. In 2000, he was named one of the “Fifty Most Influential Packaging Leaders of the 20th Century.”

This year marks the 15th anniversary of ArtiosCAD, which is being celebrated at Eskoworld. “For many years Simon has been instrumental in the growth and strategic development of Esko, and the company has very much to thank him for,” noted Carsten Knudsen, Esko CEO and president. “Also, his influence in the packaging industry cannot be underestimated. We are grateful that we had the honor to work with Simon, and will miss his unique insights and warm friendship.”

Suite 12.1
Esko Suite 12.1 was officially launched at Eskoworld. The release includes new functionality that further streamlines end-to-end workflows across the entire print and packaging supply chain. Suite 12.1 follows the successful release of Suite 12 at drupa 2012 and includes updates of its flagship editing and automation software.

Suite 12.1 contains enhancements designed to make work easier and more profitable for all stakeholders in the print and packaging supply chain, from novice users to advanced environments. Key enhancements incorporated in the release include:

Standard Template Workflows. For novice users, setting up an effective workflow is not a trivial exercise. By providing standard workflow templates for typical applications such as resp. folding carton, labels, signs, etc, Esko shortens the learning curve for less experienced users. Esko has leveraged its experience in training and in configuring many workflows in the field to create standard templates that automate the most common prepress and production tasks.

Integration with On-Press Visual Inspection Systems. In prepress editors PackEdge or ArtPro, users can now define areas on a job for inline visual inspection systems. This significantly reduces overall setup time for the press since the inline inspection system receives its setup data directly from Esko Automation Engine. With the inspection area defined upstream and not by the press operator, it becomes easier to standardize the production process across multiple sites, presses and operators. First inspection system integrations work with Esko´s partner AVT.

CombiPress Support. Especially in the label industry, it is common practice to combine different print processes (offset, flexo, digital, screen) within the same job, with each process requiring different preparation. With CombiPress support, even trapping tickets will automatically perform overprint calculations based on the targeted printing processes, eliminating manual selection of trapping tickets.

Esko Viewer Sports New Tools. The Esko Viewer in Automation Engine 12.1 is equipped with a barcode and braille reader. With this, the difficulty of manually and visually verifying the accuracy of a barcode or of a line of braille text, an essential check in the prepress QA process, has been overcome.

Bernard Zwaenepoel, Esko’s senior vice president software, says: “After drupa, Esko´s Software Suite 12 was labeled as the industry reference. But we haven’t been resting on these laurels and invested significant time with our customers to understand additional value-adding requirements, many of which we have addressed in this release. By extending our capabilities beyond traditional prepress tasks, Suite 12.1 brings unsurpassed value to service providers, converters and printers alike as they strive to stay competitive and current in a dynamic market environment."

Customer connections
Danaher is Esko’s parent company, and one of its mantras is: “Customers talk, we listen.” Esko takes this message to heart, and Eskoworld provides a forum for interaction among Esko personnel, Esko users and also brand owners.

At Eskoworld 2013, there are 40 people present representing brands. “They want to know what’s happening within the supply chain,” Knudsen said.

For Knudsen, making connections and learning from peers and customers is a key part of the Eskoworld experience. He said, “We have to connect with customers, and have customers connect with each other. Learning from the competition is a great learning experience.”

This year’s Eskoworld also had more industry partner sponsors than ever before. Sponsors include HP, tesa tape, MacDermid, EFI and DuPont.