Significans Automation had a busy and successful 2023 as we continued to help commercial and packaging printers of all types and sizes across North America realize the enormous benefits of customized workflow automation and full in-shop integration. Here are a few selected highlights from a very productive and fulfilling year.
Web Connect+: An industry first at Graphics Canada
Canada’s largest printing industry tradeshow, the 60th anniversary Graphics Canada Expo, was held May 11-13, 2023, in Hall 5 at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. According to Event Director Dan Mustata, the first in-person event in 4 years attracted over 8,000 visitors, including more than 1,500 exhibiting personnel and 175 individual exhibitors. One of the highlights was the Web Connect+ booth 5222, which showcased an unmanned, end-to-end ‘workflow of the future.’ Web Connect+ was a unique collaboration between Significans Automation, Infigo, Enfocus, Motionalysis, Ronik and Elitron Americas. Daily live demonstrations guided visitors through every step of the printing process – without any human intervention whatsoever!
Company reps worked their magic from computer stations outside the perimeter of the booth, as showgoers saw a robot scurrying about, gathering and offloading finished printed pieces. From designing a personalized product, to pre-flighting, to digital printing and finishing, attendees witnessed an entirely seamless workflow in action and discovered its game-changing cost savings and untapped efficiencies. It was a first – not just for Significans and our partners, but a first for a major print industry tradeshow in Canada.
Real printers, real results: Some of our 2023 Case Studies
PRINTIVITY. Significans helped Printivity, an online printer with production facilities in California and New Jersey (and over 60,000 customers) save $7,500 per month, reduce prepress hours by 50%, and boost throughput by 31% The print, bindery, and mailing & fulfillment specialist chose Significans Automation to drive inefficiencies out of its New Jersey location and significantly improve its bottom line. Prinitvity had purchased some automation software (Enfocus Switch and Pit Stop Server) but quickly realized that they needed help with implementation to unlock its full potential. Significans created and deployed a highly customized, easy-to-use solution that yielded these unprecedented results. An added benefit, Prinitivity was able to take on more business, offer new products, and increase its marketing efforts.
SUPERGRAPHICS. Seattle, Washington large-format printer SuperGraphics used customized workflow automation from Significans to cut its prepress times from 500% to 700%, while taking overall production efficiency to bold new heights. SuperGraphics made automation a priority in the first quarter of 2021, while still recovering from the pandemic. With production volumes at new lows, the time was ideal for identifying inefficiencies and developing new workflow processes. The improvements translated into fewer prepress hours, dramatically lower operating costs, and enthusiastic feedback from a rejuvenated prepress staff. Guided by Significans, the shop acquired Enfocus PitSto with Switch, and Phoenix automated layout and nesting software. As it deployed more and more automation solutions, the need to add more people to its prepress department disappeared. Plus, it’s now much more competitive when it comes to pricing.
HCL LABELS. Significans helped this Santa Cruz, California label printer triple capacity, slash lead times and reduce errors, with an ROI in just one month. In 2022, VP Ben Nell began researching solutions to boost workflow efficiency and reduce his weeks-long production lead times. Like most printers, HCL dealt with increases in demand by adding staff or buying new equipment (in this case a digital cutting table). But each time it increased production capacity, clients would respond by filling it – and lead times would increase again. It was a common, profit-eroding production cycle. Customized solutions from Significans saved 4-5 hours of production time per day by automating cut lines and tabs. Another 1-2 hours per day was saved by automating the layout. Plus, lead times were reduced dramatically – from up to 3 weeks to 1-2 days – without adding any staff. “Every time Significans automated something for us, it was like finding money in our pocket,” Nell added.
NONSTOP PRINTING. Significans partnered with this busy Los Angeles, California printer to slash proofing times from 15 – 60 minutes to 3 – 5 minutes, reduce press downtime by over 10%, cut rework by 15%, and trim prepress staff by 50%. With a staff of 10, this digital printing ‘dynamo’ specializes in short-run, high-quality art books as well as event printing and signage. His clients include some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities and entertainment firms. Nonstop had been imposing everything on its Fiery DFE. After a thorough analysis, the Significans team determined that the best path forward was to deploy Enfocus Switch so, it did the groundwork and taught CEO Leiman Chan advanced programming and scripting. He loved every minute of it! Today, Chan estimates that he could now add over $1 million in new business – without hiring new employees or buying new equipment!
TKM PRINT SOLUTIONS. This leading Akron, Ohio wide-format printer wanted to double its production output without adding more prepress staff. Significans deployed a new, highly customized workflow automation system that reduced errors while cutting imposition times from one day to less than one hour, allowing TKM to feed more finished files to its presses. The system used Enfocus Switch with Pitstop pre-flighting and Phoenix for imposition. Using meta-data from TKM’s MIS system eliminated errors by reducing human touchpoints, allowing prepress operators to concentrate on more value-added work. Pitstop simplified the pre-press process by identifying potential file issues early in the workflow. TKM can now handle complex print jobs – such as those with multiple files and large volumes – much more efficiently. Plus, with the addition of Phoenix, imposition tasks that used to take a day, are now accomplished in less than one hour.
These are just a few case studies we selected. For more examples of how Significans has helped other printers across North America, please visit https://significans.com/case-studies/.
Recognitions and awards
RECOGNITIONS. The year 2023 also saw the expansion of our ‘Platinum Partner’ status with Enfocus, a global provider of PDF validation and process automation software headquartered in Ghent, Belgium. Enfocus enables its customers to integrate their technology systems to increase efficiency, accuracy, and consistency, while boosting performance and profitability. The company partners with software OEMs and vendors, to connect disparate systems in prepress, press, and finishing, in addition to managing quality. Significans Automation is proud to be an Enfocus Platinum Partner. We are now certified as an official Reseller, Solution Partner, Trainer, App Creator, Consultant, and Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) for its Connect, PitStop, Switch, Griffin, and Phoenix products. Markets that we specialize in include packaging print, commercial print, signage and large format, digital print, newspapers, advertising, publishing, education, and government.
AWARDS. Significans Automation was proud to be a silver sponsor at the Third Annual Wide Format Summit held July 24-26, 2023, at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The result was more than satisfying. We earned a third-place award for the Best Sponsor Case Study in the Roll-to-Roll Graphics Category for our SuperGraphics case-study presentation entitled “Modernizing or Dying = The Case for Automation.”
Launch of our free eBook: 6 Pillars to Workflow Automation
Another highlight of 2023 was the launch of our new eBook as a free download. Titled 6 Pillars to Workflow Automation, this helpful new publication is a comprehensive, 14-page guide to smarter, more streamlined workflows. It covers key topics that form the foundation of a modern, seamless, end-to-end print workflow process. These include:
- Creating a culture of automation
- Standardizing processes
- Ensuring the integrity of input data
- Generating quality production files
- Delivery of produced files
- Providing feedback on the process
The eBook ends with a conclusion and a viable action plan. Organizations that adopt a culture of continuous improvement and are diligent in their approach to file integrity and process efficiency, will be better able to take advantage of the benefits of automation technology in the future, and will thrive in an evolving and ever-challenging marketplace.
About the author and contributors. Andrew Oswood, the author of 6 Pillars to Workflow Automation, is a skilled workflow specialist with several years of industry experience and a passion for problem-solving. A member of the Significans team, he’s an expert in developing efficient and effective workflow solutions for companies of all sizes, by utilizing his technical knowledge and innovative ideas. Andrew is committed to finding the best solutions for our clients and continually strives to optimize workflows to achieve maximum results. Other team members who contributed to this eBook include Nathan Armata (Director of Workflow Development), Stan Carmichael (Director of Special Projects), Sean Davis (VP of Technology) and James Robinson (Business Analyst).
For more information and to download your free copy, please visit https://significans.com/the-6-pillars-of-automation/.
Support of Education in the print community
Recruitment and retention of skilled employees is still a major problem throughout the North American printing industry. That’s why Significans Automation is always proud to take part in any initiatives that promote printing as an exciting and rewarding career choice and listen intently to the ambitions and goals of those students planning a career in graphic arts. We were excited to take part in two educational events in 2023 in Toronto by partnering with the Graphics Communication Management (GCM) Program at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University).
GCM DRAGON’S DEN 2023. Over 120 students from the fourth-year Graphic Communications Management (GCM) Business Plan Capstone Course were invited to participate in a ‘Dragons Den’ style event. They pitched their ideas to graphic arts industry professionals for an opportunity to receive expert feedback, make important professional connections, work with leading businesses in the printing sector – and ultimately pave the way for a future career in the printing industry.
Significans President Marc Raad listened to several outstanding business plans from 4th-year GCM students. “I had the privilege to judge some ambitious 4th-year students as they presented their business plans and new business concepts,” Raad recalled. “While a few stood out, all the presenters were very articulate and their presentations were well-researched and easy to understand. Our industry’s future looks very bright with these young graduates and their entrepreneurial spirit. It was also clear to me that teacher Donna Razik (Cormier) offered her class a real-world approach, and I commend her for her guidance. Thanks again to Toronto Metropolitan University for hosting such a fantastic event and providing a platform for young entrepreneurs to showcase their bold new ideas.”
GCM COLLOQUIUM 2023. Significans Automation was equally proud to be a Gold Sponsor at GCM’s 2023 Colloquium, a yearly event that connects students with printing and graphic arts professionals. Hosted by the students, industry professionals speak about a specific theme related to the current trends in the industry. The Colloquium allows students to engage directly with a rapidly changing industry alongside professionals who witness these changes every day. This annual opportunity provides access to networking, education, careers, and real-life applications of studied topics.
“We were privileged to be part of the 2023 GCM Colloquium event where Sean Davis, VP of Technology at Significans Automation, discussed Streamlining Your Business with Workflow Automation,” said Significans President Marc Raad. “As a graduate of the GCM program at Toronto Metropolitan University, Sean was also able to reconnect with the professors who taught him, including Reem El Asaleh, Art Seto, Natalia Lumby, and Donna Razik (Cormier). We loved the event’s overall theme of Cre8 Innov8 – Creativity and Innovation in Graphic Communications. We thank the colloquium’s hard-working organizers. You did a phenomenal job!”
A final thought
As we look forward to helping more printers across North America grow and become more competitive and profitable through customized workflow automation, we’d also like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season, and a healthy, fulfilling, and successful 2024 and beyond. Finally, to our clients and our technical team members, thank you so much for being such amazing partners – and for your trust, your dedication, and your unwavering support throughout 2023.