Production flows from PRINTEMPO to ES
For all the talk of digital channels dominating marketing, printed mail, order catalogues are still big business, reaching every demographic in a cost-effective way, even if the order they generate are now as likely to be taken online as via telephone or post. One company that knows this very well is Vermillion, an independent pre-media service provider that is responsible for generating some 30,000 mail order pages a year for popular brands such as Freemans, Kaleidoscope, Grattan, Damart, Bella di Notte and LookAgain. In addition to the home shopping portfolio, Vermillion’s staff of 14 serves clients in the FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) and point-of-sale markets.
The Leeds, UK, company is a long-standing DALIM SOFTWARE customer, having used PRINTEMPO since the business was established in 2004, making it one of the first users of that software. Production director Chris Milner explains, “With this quantity of work, we’re extremely mindful that we need systems in place to handle the volume, both for ourselves and for current and potential new clients.”
A key aspect of handling work efficiently for both Vermillion and its clients was proofing of catalogue and other pages, so the DIALOGUE Engine was added to PRINTEMPO to enable soft-proofing. “Colour accuracy is key, as 50 per cent of our business now doesn’t involve contract proofs until we place the publication with the printers,” says Milner
Working with systems integrator LGS, Vermillion was able to combine the workflow and job tracking features of PRINTEMPO with the soft-proofing functionality of DIALOGUE Engine to provide efficient management of production. However, technology is never static and Milner and his colleagues were aware that new capabilities and refinements to existing ones were becoming available.
“All technology has a lifecycle, and although we were happy with the functionality we had achieved, we needed to look at updating the servers running the software,” explains Milner.
EuroDuo prompts ES migration
Milner and his team attended the EuroDuo event in London in 2013 and saw ES4 there. “We were impressed with the new features around ePublications, with the flexibility of creating ePubs from print-ready PDFs,” he recalls, adding, “The challenge was to take the job tracking features and TWIST workflows which we had in PRINTEMPO and migrate them to ES.”
Vermillion kept tabs on the progress of ES, looking at it again at the Ipex trade show in March 2014 and met with DALIM SOFTWARE and LGS to define a road map for migration of their systems from PRINTEMPO to ES.
“As ES was a brand new system there was no clear migration solution, so with the considerable help of LGS, we set about trying to replicate the features we used in PRINTEMPO and DIALOGUE,” says Milner. “We had to be confident that this was possible before we started using ES on live jobs.”
A new server for TWIST and ES had been installed in December 2013 and after a period of testing and adaptation, Vermillion was ready to make the migration to ES in December 2014. “The work wasn’t finished at this point,” comments Milner, adding “As with all new releases there have been minor bugs and items that we wanted to fine-tune, but with the help of LGS, we now have a great working system.
“It’s more stable and has a very user-friendly interface; customers can use the system to approve or reject pages from anywhere 24/7 and can easily track their job’s status at any time,” he adds. Because it is web-based, ES allows Vermillion’s clients to log in from any supported device, from desktop PCs to tablets and smartphones to review and annotate pages or other artwork.
Continuity of service for Vermillion’s clients was an important consideration during the switchover to ES. Milner says that their ‘milestone’ file-naming convention developed with PRINTEMPO was brought over to ES to minimise the learning curve for clients, as they were already familiar with that approach.
Floods hold back the DAM
Updating the digital asset management (DAM) capability is also on the cards at Vermillion. Chris Milner explains:
“We hold a large database which is accessible to all our clients. Quick searching of images is a priority and the ease of access and sharing is key. It has to be visually appealing and be easy to use. We have been using Xinet for a long time but we like the DALIM SOFTWARE DAM and are interested in how it could potentially integrate with our ES system – using the DAM with the ES approval system would be a great feature.”
Progress on this front was temporarily delayed by flooding at Vermillion’s site caused by Storm Eva over Christmas 2015. There was damage to the company’s equipment – though not the ES server, fortunately – and Milner pays tribute to LGS’s efforts to help with reinstating the business.
“As we settle into our new surroundings, I would like to progress at speed with the DAM and ePub products,” Milner confirms, adding, “As the business continues to grow, the packaging market is an area we are keen to break into, and with ES we already have a ready-made tool for this sector. We believe we have a product to take the business to the next level.”