Automation is key to e-commerce success

HP Indigo has been leading the way when it comes to achieving zero-touch automation in workflow solutions and now artoos group is also reaping the fruits of this approach. To get the most out of the e-commerce boom in the printing industry, it is essential to focus on automation, and that requires more than just the obvious IT skills: selecting the right partners is every bit as crucial.

The steady rise of e-commerce in the printing industry – in both open- and closed-source web-to-print platforms – has created some major challenges for the printing business. While the extra income from the increase in orders is, of course, more than welcome, it often also involves smaller print runs and faster turnaround times. This means the production processes must be as efficient as possible in order for companies to keep their margins stable.

HP Site Flow

HP Indigo recognises these challenges and with solutions such as HP Site Flow, enables fully automatic control of all stages of the production workflow – from order to print and from finishing to delivery. Over 1,000 brand owners worldwide (including the likes of Kellogg’s and Pearson) and printing companies (such as Vistaprint and HelloPrint, to name a few) are already using this cloud-based solution.

The numbers speak for themselves: in 2021, some 500 million items were printed through fully automated processes using HP Site Flow. This production is not limited to HP Indigo presses: the workflow also controls digital and offset presses from other suppliers.

PrintOS Integration Hub

HP Site Flow is a scalable end-to-end workflow solution suitable for printing companies of virtually any size. Yet many companies still feel the need to add new automation capabilities to components of existing workflows, for example to seamlessly integrate a newly installed digital press into the existing system. To accommodate this demand, HP Indigo launched the PrintOS Integration Hub.

HP Indigo’s PrintOS Integration Hub delivers on the ‘Industry 4.0’ promise in the printing industry. The platform offers SDKs (Software Development Kits) and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), enabling printing companies and suppliers to create new interfaces using software and applications. These integration tools significantly boost the level of automation achieved in specific areas – for example, the connection between the MIS and the production unit.

Artoos group and Automation

For artoos group, HP Indigo’s automation capacity, “in addition to the HP Indigo 12000’s printing quality”, was a decisive factor in choosing this supplier as a partner, says Liesbeth Van Assche, Process Architect at artoos group. In her role as project manager, she was responsible for the necessary integration of the workflows – which were initially separate – into the offset and digital presses. Liesbeth: “Offset orders were sent directly from the MIS to the Prinect workflow for the Heidelberg offset presses. However, for digital print orders from the same MIS, a paper production ticket was used to send the orders to the digital press, where the operator had to look up files in the system, create jobs and select the right settings, runlenght and type of paper.”

To automate this time-consuming and error-prone manual process, specialists from artoos group, HP Indigo and Heidelberg sat down together. “After mapping out the workflow architecture, we started looking for a solution together. Our top priority was to move towards one-off data entry for the MIS, which is then sent to production through the workflow.”

Mission accomplished!

After two months of ‘endless tinkering and testing’, the team created the ultimate configuration using JDF interfaces. Artoos group couldn’t be happier with the project outcome: “These three parties really have teamwork down to an art. When everyone is fully committed to finding the solution, that’s when great things happen.” This was confirmed again when an HP Indigo 7900 press was added to artoos group’s machine park a month ago: “Within three days, this press was also operational in our new system. That was proof enough for me that we had risen to the challenge and succeeded – and of that I am very proud indeed.”

Artoos group has already noticed tangible results: “Efficiency has improved with a reduction in errors through the elimination of double data entry. The operator can now focus entirely on printing quality.” Liesbeth also sees further opportunities: “As part of this project, we also ran tests involving JMF feedback on data sent to the MIS. We still need to figure out some of the finer points, but this certainly offers potential for the future.”