Esko has announced the release of Suite 14, a comprehensive collection of new and updated software designed to give brand owners, pre-media houses, converters, sign and display producers and commercial printers the resources they need to manage today’s complex preproduction environment.

Carsten Knudsen, Esko President and CEO said, ‘To be successful today, packaging service providers and brands owners are required to perform exceptionally well in all areas of packaging preproduction. 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 to 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.

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.
• Integration of the Supply Chain and data-sharing via the cloud.

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.

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 utilisation of centrally managed assets and information.

WebCenter servers can now interact with each other to even better integrate the entire supply chain. Launching a task or sharing assets among multiple WebCenter servers shifts workflow automation into high gear. This makes it easier to achieve true supply chain integration with exceptional efficiency and real-time communication among all stakeholders in the packaging preproduction supply chain.

Suite 14 includes a broader and more sustainable integration framework that goes well beyond the boundaries of XML and JDF by standardising 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 colour tasks are now integrated into the Automation Engine. This ensures consistent colour through automated colour management. Automation Engine now automatically converts brand colours to a fixed ink setting using Equinox profiles, reducing the need for spot colours 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 visualisation 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, optimising 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.

Esko is rolling out Suite 14 beginning July 2014. Customers with maintenance contracts will receive the software for which they are entitled to as part of those agreements. Esko’s customer services organisations around the world are prepared to install, support and provide training for the new version of the software to guarantee smooth transitions and continuity of operation.

‘At Esko, we are in close contact with our customers and industry thought-leaders,’ said Bernard Zwaenepoel, Senior Vice President 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.’