The packaging supply chain requires a robust collaborative digitised workflow at the design and approval stage. Brand security is paramount as is the integrity and traceability of who is approving what. In many cases the legal as well as marketing and production departments have to sign off. At the same time there is a need for tools that are powerful enough to examine, mark-up, and approve minute details of graphics and text.
Essentially all digital workflows manage and move assets from one process to the next with emails and other types of alarms and messages. They allow the variously empowered actors in the workflow to intervene and to approve the evolving asset as it moves towards its final destination to be made ready for production.
Xeproof is a web based digital workflow and collaboration tool for sending the correct and fully approved version of the artwork version for print production. It is built using Adobe’s open source Flex framework to provide features such as 400 per cent enlargement of the dowloaded digital artwork file without any deterioration, which is useful in approval of fine details, type as small as 2 points, and barcodes. Apart from its comment and marking features, Xeproof has the usual workflow features of automatic signals and alarms using emails and even SMS.
In each customised workflow, different divisions, departments, companies and actors involved in the supply chain process can fill in their own comments about the creative direction and elements required in the artwork using any web browser. For instance, ad agencies or designers can ask questions about the requirements for the artwork from their clients and when certain user specifiable criteria are met, the software accepts the brief with deadlines for the first proof and subsequent processes.
The packaging developer, designer or agency can upload the PDF of the finished artwork for approval to the resepective departments. Reviewers can add visual and text comments and either approve the artwork or send it back for revision. A checklist is maintained and all proofs and instructions can be backtracked since the online system contains track and trace features. The online rights based approval system allows people to focus on their core tasks as the system manages the documentation, reminders, report generation and the frequent phone calls that have to be made during the process.
Saturn’s 37-member team in Trivandarum has developed Xeproof since 2006, although the company partners have been a part of the graphics industry for much longer than that. One of the partners, Jose Thomas recently visited Delhi to meet prospective clients and demonstrated the system to us. The current focus is on packaging and FMCG packaging purchasers but will eventually be customised for newspapers and printers as well. Dabur and Marico are already using the earlier versions of the software and Coke is considering the new version of the software.
Xeproof can either be self administered or fully hosted and maintained by Saturn with the security and confidentiality required by this kind of work. The Xeproof software comes in three versions — for 25 users ; for 100 users ; and a totally customer administered version.
Flex is a free, open source framework for building highly interactive, expressive web applications that deploy consistently on all major browsers, desktops, and operating systems. It provides a modern, standards-based language and programming model that supports common design patterns. MXML, a declarative XML-based language, is used to describe User Interface (UI) layout and behaviors, and ActionScript, an object-oriented programming language, is used to create client logic. Flex also includes a component library with more than 100 proven, extensible UI components for creating rich internet applications (RIAs), as well as an interactive Flex application debugger.
RIAs created with Flex can run in the browser using Adobe Flash Player software or on the desktop on Adobe AIR, the cross-operating system runtime. This enables Flex applications to run consistently across all major browsers and on the desktop. And using AIR, Flex applications can access local data and system resources on the desktop.
(based on inputs from www.adobe.com)