Cober is a renowned commercial printer based near Toronto, Canada. In 2019, they shared their story to highlight the benefits of prepress and postpress automation. Their future-proofed print business enabled them to print over 1000 jobs everyday, without any manual intervention. At the time, they were planning to expand their business with more SKUs and bonified offering. The 2020-2021 pandemic hit and affected the printing industry. Let’s see how Cober has experienced this event.
Workflow Automation to Overcome Challenges
As with many businesses, Cober had to adapt to the regional and local protocols to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Fortunately, print businesses were considered an essential business in Canada so Cober remained operational. Most, if not all of their non-manufacturing staff switched to working remotely, while their manufacturing team modified their behaviours and activities to maintain proper social distancing and wear personal protective equipment. According to Erwin Driever, VP Technology at Cober: ‘’We benefited greatly from having processing and manufacturing automation in place, which gave us the advantage of being able to manage and produce orders remotely, as much as possible. It’s highly possible that we will continue to allow some of our non-manufacturing staff to work remotely as it has been highly effective’’
Matching Offset Printing Quality with HP Indigo
‘’As a result, we could continue to operate, safely, supporting our customers and we were fortunate to be able to grow portions of our business during some difficult economic times.” says Erwin Driever. That has led to Cober investing in new equipment, tools and led further to expansion and additions to their automation workflows and to updates and enhancements in many of their manufacturing processes. Since 2005, Cober has updated and expanded their portfolio of devices a number of times currently operate an HP Indigo 7500, HP Indigo 7800, HP Indigo 10000 and two HP Indigo 12000 devices. ‘’We originally chose HP Indigo technology as in our view, it provided the best quality, the best throughput, the most flexibility, the most stability and produced output that would closely match our traditional offset print products.’’, reveals Cober’s VP Technology.
Cober print many of the same products on their HP Indigo digital presses that they produce on their offset presses, generally in smaller quantities or customized or personalized, as required. In addition, they print direct mail pieces, business cards, photobooks, recipe cards and other custom material. Based on number of orders/jobs, they print approximately 20% of orders on their offset presses and 80% of orders on their HP Indigo digital presses. This ratio has not changed from their pre-pandemic production.
Relying on Ultimate Impostrip® to Feed HP Indigo Digital Presses
Cober has been using Ultimate Impostrip® imposition software for years to automatically impose all of their short run products, book products in various layout formats, and to impose work for finishing automation using systems like the Horizon SmartStacker. The software has provided Cober the functionality to integrate into their automation flows providing them with complete imposition automation for all of their on-demand work. “Ultimate Impostrip® has certainly become an integral part of our automated and digital workflows allowing us to produce many more orders a day that possible than traditional setup methods’’, admits Driever. ‘’It has given us the benefit of submitting work directly to our digital printing devices efficiently without error or failure.’’ As Erwin Driever continues to explain, Ultimate Impostrip® has a direct connectivity to the HP Indigo presses allowing Cober to send work to the devices via specified Input Methods including JDF information used with the job or with the D2F (Direct to Finish) software on the HP DFE’s.
During the pandemic, Cober’s digital and offset businesses remained steady. Apart from a few adjustments they needed to make to comply with the public health measures, such as working from home, the Canadian printer was able to continue producing at a pre-pandemic pace. Having invested in a future-proofed infrastructure where digital printing and workflow automation all the way to finishing are an integral part of their processes, Cober was able to surf on the challenges, and quickly adapt to continue offering excellent customer service across the range. Their willingness to embrace new technologies and new opportunities even if they seem incredibly difficult, or sometimes impossible have made them a reference in the Canadian and North American printing industry. Instead of being hit by this pandemic, Cober has strengthen their leading position and are ready to tackle anything that comes their way.
As Erwin Driever concludes: ‘’We are always willing to challenge our manufacturing and business processes and workflows, updating and enhancing them to create a highly automated workflow with visibility and management of all orders in a streamlined and efficient manner, regardless of whether orders are produced in our offset press or digital press environment.’’
To read the first testimonial of how Ultimate TechnoGraphics helps Cober produce 1,000 – 1,200 orders a day.