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Bottleneck Breakthrough

One flex-pack converter boosts productivity and reduces failure quantity with workflow solutions from Dalim Software.

Alcan Packaging Teningen is accustomed to offering packaging solutions to top-brand customers. But as work volume inside its 50-employee prepress operation grew, the company soon realized it was in need of a solution. Communication between customers and the company's prepress operation was becoming a major issue.

Says Albert Scheffer, director, Shared Service Center Prepress, “With the customers, it meant retrieving data, confirming you received the data, confirming the data was okay, sending Cromalins, acknowledging they had been sent, and then waiting for proofs. I didn't want operators constantly talking with customers because that isn't their job. If they're on the phone, there is no production. Then, of course, there are the language problems.”

Other elements Alcan identified for improvement were the incoming data control (pre-flighting), standardizing incoming data, and putting data on the server — all of which was done manually. Alcan was ready to automate the process.

“If you have 20 operators working, and they are all going to one machine, there's going to be bottleneck,” says Scheffer. “First, we want to be efficient with the user's materials on the Cromalin machine, and second, we have to prioritize, [create a] uniform structure, and automate those things that we can automate.

“We were looking for a solution where anyone could — at any moment, in any place of the world — look into our system and see where a job is. It avoids a lot of telephone calls.”

Finding the Problem Solver
Alcan is a multinational, market-driven company and a global leader in aluminum and packaging, as well as aluminum recycling, with 2002 revenues of US$12.3 billion. With world-class operations in primary aluminum and fabricated aluminum, as well as flexible and speciality packaging, Alcan is well positioned to meet and exceed its customers' needs for innovative solutions and service. Alcan employs 54,000 people and has operating facilities in 42 countries.

Determined to improve the efficiency of its prepress workflow, the company turned to Dalim Software. Having installed Dalim's Litho design software previously, Scheffer says Alcan was confident Dalim would be able to customize a solution for flexible packaging.

The solution was FiCELLE, Dalim's system for the display, tracking, and administration of packaging production over the Internet that allows everyone involved in the process (most importantly the customer) to have access to real-time information — from anywhere in the world — with one common, fully customizable interface.

Alcan became the first flexible packaging installation for the system, and it quickly became apparent FiCELLE was comprehensive enough to clear several hurdles Scheffer hoped to overcome. In fact, Scheffer says, “FiCELLE offered too much, so we provided input on making it a real packaging solution. Then Dalim used the input in the customization and development of a new product [MiSTRAL*].”

One feature that addresses Scheffer's operator/customer communication concerns is the multi-language setting. “For me the multi-language [setting] is an important feature because you can have a German operator setting up a job and the French customer reading [it in French]. I consider that a very fine feature because in Europe this is an issue.”

Alcan's prepress operation improved productivity by at least 10%, Scheffer says. But far more critical, it reduced failure quantity by almost 90%. “Once it's in the workflow, you're not operator-dependent. You don't forget to send or do things. If a customer says, ‘I want a PDF of a Cromalin,’ you get a PDF of the Cromalin. Once [the data] is in the workflow of a customer, you get [what they need]. With a manual system, you'll succeed 95 out of 100 times. But there are those five times that you'll forget. It's a super-critical edge!”


CONVERTER INFO
Alcan Packaging Tscheulin-Rothal GmbH

Shared Service Center Prepress
Tscheulin-Strasse 14, D 79331 Teningen (Köndringen) Germany
+49 7641 459 260; alcanpackaging.com

*Dalim MiSTRAL, which debuted at Graph Expo/Converting Expo 2003, is the latest version of FiCELLE.


SUPPLIER INFO
Dalim Software GmbH — PFFC-ASAP 307.
Kehl, Germany; +49 (0) 7851 91960; dalim.com

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