Everyone pitches in for the larger orders. We assume that Matt’s business model has to do with his life and business on the island. Producing print products cost-effectively in the one of the most expensive cities in the US is difficult. And it’s not only the high cost of doing business, but also the expense of bringing materials such as paper and ink to a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. While there is intense pressure from less expensive online competitors, the value proposition is having the right mix of modern machinery, software and people to create a model of “high tech / high touch” that is successful in Hawaii. Quickly, Matt and his team realized that, with four print divisions operating mostly separately, repetitive actions, repeated errors, time-consuming tasks are quadrupled, a huge time drain and a logistic nightmare. In addition, the expectation that orders must be delivered very quickly, and the very low unemployment rate, motivated them to explore automation solutions.
HONBLUE is the go-to company for the AEC community, providing printing, document reproduction, scanning services for archiving, and large format printing for presentation graphics. Over the last thirty years, the company has evolved its print services to serve advertising agencies, graphic design firms, and the travel industry which is so prominent in Hawaii’s economy. They use HP Page- Wide XL8000s, OCE Large Format scanners, and Canon printers. They also have two additional storefront shops, one downtown that shares space with Brue Bar (another HONBLUE holding), and one in Lahaina Maui. In addition to the coffee business, HONBLUE acquired three other companies which are all under the same roof except for the two storefront locations. One provides traditional offset printing while the second offers large format printing. And the third is a web-to-print small format and digital printing company. IT services all of the companies and there is some staff overlap and shared technology.
Jaison VanDenover, Online Operations Director, spearheaded the move to automate HONBLUE’s workflows. Combined with the help of their vendor, Rods and Cones, he and Matt set out to define a vision for the future, where the work would go through faster, a client’s file corrected in no t ime and workflows would eventually overlap. As Matt Heim says, “The best thing Switch does is SOLVE PROBLEMS. Every day we are presented with issues on how to take the “mess” that clients give us and produce a good product efficiently. We can now customize a solution for a particular client giving us better integrity and velocity on the work.”
The first flow Jaison created was a preflighting tool consisting of PDF standardization for 4-color with bleed. The same flow was duplicated and modified to each division’s preflight needs. They are keeping preflight flows mostly consistent between departments with differences just for final output. Some of their repeat projects came with special needs and they created custom flows for them.
They also created flows to handle some tedious prepress functions typical of large format, like adding hems and pole pockets. Also for large format, they created a flow that downsized the images of a project so as to compile a visual presentation of the completed installation. Switch is useful for moving files at certain times on the network and also for backing up their HP Indigo digital press and server settings.
They are extraordinarily independent, learning everything they can on their own, relying occasionally on support from Son Do (Rods and Cones) and from the Enfocus team. They know that their current flows are being utilized by staff and are saving considerable time. Equally important is that the flows help their teams get used to the idea of automation. While some employees mistakenly worry that their jobs are in jeopardy, Matt and Jaison rely on automation to free up time to focus on the really hard work and to give everyone the tools to meet production deadlines and requirements. They are always adding, modifying and adapting current or new flows to meet each department’s needs. In collaboration with their web developer, they have already identified uses for Switch outside of the production environment to assist with the marketing department’s needs as well as with their infrastructure’s goal to communicate between application platforms. As for a vision that further consolidates some of these workflows to serve all departments at once, they are planning to use Switch to replace their current file upload technology. As Jaison explains “Each division has their own upload website which runs on the same technology, same network, same server. We want to use Switch to integrate into our HONBLUE website the capacity to receive the files and route them to the correct department, perform a preflight and standardization to the files, then give an instant response to the client that the files are either OK or changes are needed. We also want to incorporate immediate online proofing for the files that are successively submitted through the departments’ preflight steps.” Although already significantly contributing to efficient production times, they are just starting, and intend to rely on Switch to solidly meet every challenge of an ever growing company.