Category 5 Imaging

“Process Automation Fuels Evolution for Large Format Printer”

Is a Burlington, Ontario large format printer offering a wide variety of services from point-of-purchase display to vehicle wraps and billboards for retail, commercial and public transit clients. Established in 2006 Category 5 came under new ownership in 2016 when the founding ownership retired.

The transition in ownership brought new focus to the already successful printer. Brendan Howard, Category 5’s new president, brought extensive management consulting experience to a company already rich in print production know-how. His first task was to perform a detailed analysis of the print operations, using a task focused as opposed to process focused methodology. He identified forty-unique steps in Category 5’s workflow, this analysis provided a clear vision for future enhancement. Howard explained that it is common in manufacturing businesses to invest in better to best production technologies. This approach often fails to yield increased production due to the existing roadblocks in the front-end.

The purpose of this endeavor was a customer focused opportunity for a major client requiring display prints to be produced of differing sizes and versions. We designed and created a series of custom scripts for calculating tiling and nesting. These scripts allowed Category 5 to integrate their tiling and nesting process into the existing production process.

Category 5 had already invested in Esko Automation Engine software and turned to Significans Automation to help evolve the existing platform. Marc Raad recalls Significans Automation’s initial assignment. “The purpose of this endeavor was a customer focused opportunity for a major client requiring display prints to be produced of differing sizes and versions.” He continued, “we designed and created a series of custom scripts for calculating tiling and nesting. These scripts allowed Category 5 to integrate their tiling and nesting process into the existing production process.” By automating and integrating these processes Category 5 reduced prepress times by 2-days on this critically tight production schedule as well as increased print yield on their output devices.

Reduced prepress times by 2 days and increased print yield on output devices

“Software integration has a more pronounced return on investment and has the added benefit of accelerating return on capital investment by increasing yields on production machinery.”
– Brendan Howard President, Category 5

The next step in Category 5’s prepress automation was to enhance the preflight process. “The majority of steps in the prepress area are communication steps”, explained Howard, “These are mostly manual tasks, presenting a larger than average probability for human error; these errors can result in costly delays in the production process.” He added, “software integration has a more pronounced return on investment and has the added benefit of accelerating return on capital investment by increasing yields on production machinery.”

Automating these tasks resulted in a 25-30% increase in prepress efficiency

Category 5 again looked to Significans Automation to help address the task of analyzing the integrity of customer-supplied files for print readiness. Significans Automation created custom scripts to evaluate the print integrity of the customer’s artwork then, artwork clean-up routines and custom scripts to identify and repair customer files that are not ready for print. Automating these tasks resulted in a 25-30% increase in prepress efficiency.

“One person with a computer is more productive than two-people or two-computers.”
– Brendan Howard President, Category 5

Category 5 feels strongly that having software automation administer and supervise a workflow is more productive than having people manually inspecting every job. Howard explains, “One person with a computer is more productive than two-people or two-computers.” This has provided Category 5 the opportunity to repurpose employees to more creative, higher value, customer-focused activities such as design and custom projects as well as product innovation. These activities result in a more productive and rewarding work experience for employees and provide greater value to Category 5 customers.

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