From left to right: Tom Schouten, Geostick Operations Project Manager and Geostick Operations Director Cees Schouten
Geostick automates prepress processes with HYBRID Software
Greater efficiency, processes that are less susceptible to errors and, above all, a better customer experience: these were Geostick’s ambitions when it approached HYBRID Software to discuss process automation. Eighteen months later, implementation is complete and the high expectations have been met.
As a manufacturer and supplier of self-adhesive labels and flexible packaging, Geostick is one of the most important label printers in Europe. The family business will be celebrating its centenary next year and has ambitions for further growth. The plan to increase automation and streamline the workflow in the prepress department was partly motivated by this ambition to grow.
“We wanted greater automation in the workflow, for everything that happens between receiving the artwork from the customer and printing the image or file,” says Cees Schouten, who is responsible for operations at the family business along with his son Tom. “At the same time, we also wanted to improve the customer experience and improve the security of the information and changes to soft proofs.”
Far-reaching integration process
In HYBRID Software, Geostick found a partner who offered more than just the solutions to their automation needs. The software company also brought customer-focused collaboration to an integration process that ended up taking more than a year.
“This is a far-reaching project that involves considering all our processes and questioning everything,” Tom Schouten says. “All our in-house knowledge and experience had to be incorporated into the processes. Doing that meant we also stumbled upon things that had been done in a certain way for years, but no one remembered why. We’ve streamlined all of that now. We also need to thank our customers for their cooperation and patience, because the project has had a considerable impact on them as well. But it has brought them many benefits too!”
The new solution is centred on CLOUDFLOW, HYBRID Software’s advanced server application. Specific drivers were also supplied for Geostick’s HP and Bobst digital presses, so that the start of a new task is also largely automated at the machines themselves. HYBRID has also developed specific tools for the automatic creation of step and repeat prints and complex multi-layer labels.
Besides the server application, the prepress operators also use the PACKZ desktop editor to streamline and simplify their work.
Dialogue through web-based solution
However, the automation of the entire process surrounding the actual DTP work is what has had the biggest impact on customers and staff. For example, there is a Sales Pre-flight module that makes it possible to generate quotes more quickly. The most striking change is the web-based solution that streamlines collaboration between the customers and prepress department staff.
“In the past, e-mails were written manually with the PDF documents attached. Sometimes reminders had be sent and people had to search for the replies,” Tom Schouten explains. “Now a link is sent automatically, which the customers can use to view the files in high resolution. If necessary, they can contact prepress directly and, once everything is in order, approve the document using the system.”
Integration with CERM MIS software
This new way of working has made a huge improvement to the customer experience, and susceptibility to errors has been greatly reduced. The entire process is also embedded in a bigger picture, thanks to the integration with the existing CERM MIS software that HYBRID Software provided.
“The whole process felt a bit like open-heart surgery because of the very radical changes it entailed,” Cees Schouten reflects. But just like a successful operation, it has given the business a new lease of life. Geostick wasted no time putting its increased efficiency to the test. In July 2022, it took over a printing works that increased the company’s turnover by 12% without needing extra people in the prepress department. “That’s what the automation process has done for us.”
Now that Geostick has a taste for automation and streamlining, it is enthusiastic to continue its partnership with HYBRID. “We have come on in leaps and bounds, which we are extremely proud of, but we haven’t exhausted the possibilities yet. We are working on an even more accessible approval process for our customers, and we are already looking forward to several great applications that HYBRID is developing,” Tom Schouten reveals. This year, Geostick will continue to optimise the process internally, in collaboration with HYBRID developers. According to Cees Schouten, that is what a partnership is all about: “The focus needs to be on connectedness and sustainable partnerships.”