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WRIGHT BUSINESS GRAPHICS’ PREPRESS EVOLVES WITH DALIM TWIST

Founded in 1970, Wright Business Graphics (Wright) began as a two-employee print shop focusing on business form printing in Portland, Oregon. In July, 2018, Wright was acquired by Ennis, Inc., headquartered in Midlothian, Texas. Today Wright has evolved into one of the West Coast’s leading suppliers of printed products, offering a wide range of products and services from facilities located in Oregon, Washington and California, where the company focuses on business forms and checks, folding cartons, digital variable data printing, commercial offset (such as annual reports and brochures), envelope printing, and direct mail.

 

We have a team approach to taking care of our clients throughout the entire production process, providing constant communication, clear answers and more control over their jobs,” says Eric DeRoos, Director, Premedia, Wright Business Graphics. From concept creation and CAD design, to full premedia and print production, through die-cutting, folding and gluing, as well as warehousing and fulfillment services, all phases of production are in house; not outsourced.

 

Before the Ennis acquisition, in 2017, Wright brought on Kevin Shahalami, who had previously built a DALIM TWIST workflow for another company, to advice as a technical consultant and mentor for DeRoos. They ran prepress, building an automated system combining TWIST and a Xinet DAM, exclusively for their new wide format division, for a year. “That is how I began to work with Danny Cox of Bay Digital and learned all about TWIST,” remembers DeRoos. “While I had been exposed to other workflows, Bay Digital made a big difference because they not only trained me, but built examples to help. Bay Digital has been the best partner I have ever worked with, bar none—and that is not meant to disparage anyone else. They have just stepped up to assist with whatever challenge we’ve thrown at them.”

 

A CHANGE FROM WIDE FORMAT TO JUST ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE

 

In 2018, when Ennis invested in the company, the wide format division was sold. But, TWIST was retained and automated workflows were infused elsewhere. “We do quite a variety of work,” remarks DeRoos. Wright has four manufacturing sites; two in Portland (a forms division at corporate HQ and a folding carton/commercial/digital division four miles away), one in Kent, WA and in Chino, CA. Wright corporate headquarters produces line hole business forms and commercial products on narrow web presses. The building in which DeRoos works makes folding cartons, commercial, digital and direct mail. DeRoos oversees the management of TWIST workflows for all divisions from his office in Portland. TWIST is primarily involved with the two Portland divisions along with the workflow’s ‘tentacles’ inside the Kent, WA facility. In Kent, Wright produces commercial, forms and envelopes on offset, digital, narrow web and jet presses.

 

Everything in some capacity runs through TWIST. “One example we use TWIST for is to help automate and govern file processing and routing so only normalized production files are ever used for proof and press delivery.” says DeRoos.

 

In a sense, DeRoos operates a streamlined, efficient hub-and-spoke prepress department for many of the facilities’ needs. He is in the middle to blend prepress within each production workflow. “We have all these tools in the Portland area, but we can utilize them anywhere to add significant efficiencies company wide. The ever elusive 100% hub-and-spoke model is closer than ever.

 

STANDARDIZING IMPOSITION OF  ENVELOPES

 

For envelopes, the workflow is now almost 100% automated. Before, one person oversaw the entire process manually; particularly imposition. DeRoos wondered, ‘Why is all this necessary?’ He devised a process where all incoming jobs were standardized with a filename convention. The name contained a job number, description, and envelope and press identifier. “We identified 65 envelope styles and two press configurations, and created IDs for each. In doing so, we were able to create a workflow that automates preflighting, color management, PDF proof delivery, and imposition—then ingests them into our plating queue”, explains DeRoos. “Removing all of these manual steps reduces tribal knowledge and has allowed our talented operators to work on more meaningful tasks.

 

STANDARDIZING  FORMS PREFLIGHTING

 

The corporate HQ facility does 100% of their preflighting through TWIST. If an incoming file passes preflight, TWIST tells the CSR, outputs a spec sheet for the planner, and triggers a standardized folder set ready for the job to become live.

 

WHEN PROOFS LOOK THE SAME, THAT’S GOOD

 

Wright favors consistency for its customers, no matter where or how a product is produced. Whatever the product is, they do not want their proofs to look different. “While all of our plating jobs ultimately end up on another workflow we’ve used for twenty years, we let TWIST handle all of our proof standardizing. TWIST takes the files, pulls out job metadata like P.O. numbers and document specs, and sends proofs to the customers that are always formatted the same,” notes DeRoos. “In that way, Wright customers are assured of consistency and are getting the same customer experience, although the files are prepared by different systems, and printed in different facilities.

 

SAVING HOURS OF TIME

 

Wright’s biggest customer over the past forty years is a large financial company. For one continuing project, postscript files were delivered daily via email from four company systems. “It took on average forty minutes a day to convert them to clean PDF files, reversing them from positive to negative. The files then were ganged and imposed manually,” says DeRoos. “We had something break internally, and I was asked to help. I configured TWIST to also act as an sFTP server and worked with the customer to modify the file delivery method so that files did not have to be delivered manually via email. Now, TWIST batch processes the files twice a day per our schedule needs, and automatically sends them to our Xinet server, where they are immediately released for a specialized plating process.

Another time, a few months ago, Wright’s biggest folding carton customer—a print broker—requested we alter our PDF proof formatting to include extended job specs for their own folding cartons customers. It would have required an extensive process of manually typing job specifications—sometimes spending an extra thirty minutes or more per project. In short order, DeRoos developed a TWIST queue to take care of each proof on the fly. There were no prepress touches required, and it was versatile and adaptable.

 

A VERSATILE WORKFLOW

 

DeRoos likes TWIST because of its versatility and scalability. “It is very workflow agnostic and ‘plays nice’ with other solutions. It is adaptable and agile, where we can build a workflow for just about any need,” comments DeRoos. “It is exciting that we do not have to be stuck with a canned way of doing things. In my experience, TWIST has proven to be a true Swiss army knife in our industry.”

In addition, it is user friendly once you get used to it,” adds DeRoos. “Every day we are evaluating the need for new automation. I am responding to challenges at least once every month. Right now, we are looking at ways to integrate TWIST with our B2B storefront via XML and metadata routing as well as looking at ways to augment our 3D proofing capabilities. And, as a Linux system, it’s near bullet-proof.

TWIST has also been helpful while working remotely. DeRoos has been able to oversee his workflows, even though he has worked remotely much of the time during the peak COVID shutdown. Nothing has changed. And, while staffing during COVID has been difficult, they still do not have any problem with capacity. In fact, as work has scaled up, they have not needed to ramp up staff.

Sums up DeRoos, “TWIST is essential in this day and age. Look at what TWIST and Xinet have done for us. It’s like the Matrix. We took the red pill, which has opened our eyes and let us experience everything TWIST can do. We’ll never go back to where we were before automation.

 

About the author
Liam BELL
As a content manager with a multicultural background, I am dedicated to creating impactful content that extends my reach globally. I seek meaningful opportunities and challenges that engage my passion for helping others and solving problems through innovative content creation.