By Phil Curtolo
In the summer of 2016, Kapp Advertising, publishers of the Merchandiser, began installing advertising and production systems from SCS. They knew the systems would streamline their workflow, but never imagined how drastic the improvements would be.
The transition started with SCS/Track, which combines tools for controlling and monitoring ad workflow, building ads, facilitating web-based access for online proofing and the submission of ads and content, managing current and archived digital ad assets and user-definable reporting into a single system.
In the pre-SCS/Track world, the Merchandiser had 18 artists building ads across 3 shifts. This was done 24 hours a day, 6 days a week! The long hours don’t do justice to how much effort was required to “track” an ad.
There were barely enough hours in the day to handle the volume of ads flowing in and out of the art department, and the entire process was manual. When an ad was booked, a physical ticket was moved from order entry to artists, where ads were manually created, sized and saved in Adobe InDesign. Any components from previously run ads had to be tracked down in e-mails or old ad folders. Completed ads then had to be manually converted to PDF one ad at a time. And on a nightly basis, all ad files would need to be manually backed up.
To make matters worse, according to Jane Means, Kapp’s General Manager, “Our regional offices booked ads all day long that were ready at 5:00 pm each day. At that time, we would have to have two people drive all those printed insertion orders and pieces of paper to the corporate plant to process in the graphics department.” Means continues, “Copy (and a lot of it) would not get in here until 7:00 in the evenings and we needed to have the ads ready the next morning. We needed artists working through the night.”
All that being said, it took a monumental effort by the talented staff at the Merchandiser to make all of this work, but Means and her team knew there had to be a better way. SCS proved to have a better way, and it started with SCS/Track.
With SCS/Track connected to the Merchandiser’s advertising system, new orders are electronically created and assigned to artists in the system. “Once SCS/Track was in place, ads and copy are entered electronically throughout the day and, voila, the graphics department has everything they need to complete all ads, including those from the regional offices,” reports Means. “The new workflow is greatly appreciated by all departments.”
One such workflow improvement, per Angie DeAngelo, Macintosh Specialist & Trainer, was pick-up ads. Per DeAngelo, “When we pick up an entire ad, every single piece of artwork comes with the ad. Our graphic artists don’t have to spend time looking for that obscure piece of artwork that ran last time the ad ran. It’s all in one nice folder, automatically.”
DeAngelo continues, “Once an ad is Routed as Finished, the PDF is automatically exported to the proper folder. This used to be something we did by hand, one ad at a time. That has saved us much time and effort.”
What about that nightly backup process? “That is taken care of on SCS/Track’s end, and is done in the background,” says DeAngelo. “Plus, having two servers is comforting. If one goes down, the other one automatically takes over. No more worry over how to get our production back up and running.”
In the current art department, with SCS/Track in place, the same 18 artists now work Monday through Friday across 2 shifts. “SCS has been the reason we were able to move all our 3rd shift graphic personnel to 1st and 2nd shifts,” Means happily states. “They love sleeping when it’s dark and we love having all the work done by 11:00pm!”
In addition to SCS/Track, Kapp has also installed Layout-8000 and SCS/ClassPag to dummy and paginate ads on pages. Much like SCS/Track, these systems have significantly improved the workflow. What’s next for the Merchandiser and SCS? As Means puts it, “We look forward to more benefits as we develop our skills with SCS’s products.”