Sandy Alexander Discovers a Virtual Ticket to Success.
Vice President of Prepress & Quality, Howie Swerdloff, for Sandy Alexander Inc., a large printing and graphic communications company, developed a system that not only integrated printing and graphics solutions within Sandy Alexander, but allows customers to proof their jobs remotely, providing great cost savings and convenience. Swerdloff has utilized MetaCommunications' Workgroups modules as a centerpiece to this system. "We are constantly innovating with Workgroups," says Swerdloff. "It is a tremendously versatile system that is easy to customize. It doesn't force you into a particular mode or model. It's flexible and easy to change, and that's critical in a dynamic industry such as ours."
Sandy Alexander's Prepress & Quality department will utilize the Workgroups' Digital Storage Manager as a part of Swerdloff’s new system. Swerdloff says, "We have many clients in the cosmetics and fashion industries who have a large number of images that are reused frequently. With Digital Storage Manager, we will be able to provide enhanced services to these clients that will make it much easier for them to locate and re-use images." Swerdloff also looks forward to converting the company's physical library of image assets to digital storage, using Digital Storage Manager's powerful InterSync indexing and file management capabilities. He adds, "Right now we have a whole warehouse full of flat files with press sheets in them. We will begin to convert these as appropriate, bringing our image library into the 21st Century. Interestingly, for the first time in our history we have clients asking for access to their assets, to search for specific images, view thumbnails, proof jobs, download files and otherwise manage their assets on a 24/7 basis from anywhere with an Internet connection. Once we have Digital Storage Manager up and running, we expect to integrate it with an e-commerce system that will offer our clients the functionality they are looking for, and more."
According to Swerdloff, the Workgroups Virtual Ticket module will help drive Sandy Alexanders's automated online ripping, trapping and proofing solution. He says, "Customers will be able to access our servers remotely, preflight, rip, trap and look at color accurate representations of their jobs from remote locations. Presently, physical proofs have to be shipped to the client, or the client has to come into our plant. Soon this will be done in real time in a color-managed environment on a monitor. Virtual Ticket is the tool that we are using to integrate job specifications into our Nexus workflows so that customers can do all of this on their own without any operator intervention, and without incurring the expense of couriers and overnight shipping of hardcopy proofs."
Swerdloff cites another innovation that Virtual Ticket has made possible at Sandy Alexander: "We have created a web site for our customer service reps so that they can find information on their own projects. It polls the database and shows a complete recap of the job, down to lists of all of the colors and pages, so that they can see exactly what's going on in a particular project. That has made their lives much, much easier.
Workgroups is a way to instantly communicate job requirements between departments, between shifts, or between plants.
And with the Digital Storage Manager integration, they will also be able to access images and other assets whether they are stored online, near-line, or offline in a tape library. This will be a huge time-saver for us." Because Digital Storage Manager is fully integrated with Virtual Ticket, Swerdloff points out that not only are the assets transferred into a hierarchical storage system, but all of the metadata collected by Virtual Ticket is automatically transferred as well. "This means," he says, "that we can instantly locate materials by searching for any metadata associated with the file."
Sandy Alexander, of course, has a reputation as being one of the most innovative full service graphic and communication companies in the world. Swerdloff says, "We do very complex work here, and while we are not digital printers, the digital printing model has certainly affected the world of commercial print. Clients expect to be able to transmit a file via the web and have the printed output delivered the next morning. In order to meet those requirements, you need to have as much automation as possible in the process. Workgroups is a major part of our ability to introduce that automation into the system, and to be able to stay ahead of the competition."