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Esko solutions bring increased throughput and less waste to Visix production operations

Esko (www.esko.com), the global leader in software solutions for packaging brand management, design and prepress, reports that Visix, a manufacturer of flags and banners based in Roeselare, Belgium and serving Belgium and France, has installed a Kongsberg C64 cutting table with Esko Automation Engine. These acquisitions have helped the company increase throughput and reduce waste through increased automation and elimination of prepress and production bottlenecks.

“Visix has set the standard for craftsmanship and experience since 1903 when, trading under the name of Demeere Vlaggen in Ypres, the company specialized in handmade flags and embroidered chasubles for processions, associations and communities,” explains Stefaan Devlaminck, who is in charge of production. “Today, we combine this level of craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology in the manufacture of flags, banners and other promotional textile products using the latest large format textile printers, finishing equipment and production software. Key to our success is the ability to automate the production flow, and we have partnered with Esko to achieve this.”

In addition to its 3.2-metre Kongsberg C64 cutting table with Esko Automation Engine, Visix has also deployed Esko’s Device Manager. “The 3.2-metre format for the cutting table is the same width as our grand format printers and downstream calender,” Devlaminck adds. “We have found the most efficient textile run to be 20 meters long by 3.2 meters wide, and the Kongsberg fits perfectly into that flow.”

Following creation of print files using the Adobe Creative Suite, Visix uses i-cut Preflight, part of Automation Engine, to check for quality and bleed prior to printing. This process tags the file with XML metadata that guides it through the rest of the production process. “The next step,” Devlaminck states, “is to create a test or proof for customer approval. Automation Engine helps us there as well, automatically generating the proof and establishing the necessary follow-up action items in an automated flow. Once we have customer approval, Automation Engine takes over again, allocating a barcode to the job and routing it to what we call a ‘gang run,’ or a funnel dedicated to each substrate. Files are then automatically nested or imposed to make optimum use of the substrate.”

This process has worked so well for Visix that Devlaminck reports that even though the company is able to produce much more work now, there is actually less overall waste. “And it saves us a huge amount of time,” he adds. “Before, all the nesting was manually calculated which took a lot of time and could be prone to error.”

And the automation doesn’t stop there. By adding Esko Device Manager, Devlaminck and his team benefit from automatic selection of cutting parameters and required cutting blades for each file from the XML metadata, generated by Automation Engine in a sequence that guarantees maximum production efficiency. Compensation settings within Automation Engine to automatically adjust for shrinkage or stretch are also important for the final product quality.

“We’re able to see exactly where in the process a job is at any given point in time, and this is an important benefit to us,” Devlaminck comments. “Device Manager shows us whether the file has been printed, and whether or not it has been cut. This helps us in planning and gives us instant access to information customers may request, related to the job status. The bottom line is that we can now seamlessly operate from file acceptance through final delivery in a highly automated fashion. Prepress is no longer a bottleneck, and mistakes are kept at a minimum. These solutions have taken Visix to the next level in terms of throughput, machine utilization, productivity and profitability, enhancing our craftsmanship even more while ensuring the best possible customer service.”