In this week’s blog I am going to look at the use of technology in the artwork process, why it can be particularly helpful, the range of tools available and a short discussion on some of the potential downsides.
Technology can be particularly helpful where the potential for failure is high
I have explained in previous articles about how humans are pretty poor at checking detail. In a typical artwork process you have people responsible for carrying out activities such as: transcribing information from one source to another; performing multiple or repetitive tasks. So technology can be particularly helpful when used in the areas where the potential for failure is high.
In addition technology can reduce lead times and cost by ensuring everyone has the right, up to date information available to them when they need it, aiding coordination of the different groups and finally ensure process adherence.
There are technology solutions for different parts of the process
Artwork creation is the obvious place to start and for which there are a number of options available. These tools create documents, artwork, drawings, 3D visualisations and also deal with barcodes and braille. These are proprietary, off the shelf packages generally used within the studio and the main issue here is ensuring you are working with industry standard software versions.
Document management tools securely store documents, ensuring versions are managed effectively and that audit trails are maintained. An important consideration is to decide the scope of documents that will be held within the document management functionality of your artwork management system versus other document management systems that may exist in you company. Where will you keep core text documents, local translations, native and master artworks, drawings, packaging specifications and proofreading history reports?
The next key IT functionality is workflow – tools that let you map your process and execute your artwork projects. These route documents through the process to relevant users and are typically part of your artwork management system. They ensure the change is executed correctly, permitting a piece of artwork to be requested, produced then issued to the multiple parties for review, comment and ultimately approval. Compliant electronic signatures can eliminate the need for paper approval, speeding up your process.
Further IT functionality includes planning tools, forecasting and budgeting and performance reporting and analysis.
It is important to understand the strengths and limitations of the tools you have introduced
One aspect of the artwork process which I am passionate about is proof reading. The introduction of electronic tools for text and graphic proofreading have been a great benefit and there are a number of excellent tools available. These greatly reduce the risk of human error in proof reading but each tool will have some limitations where manual checking is still required. For example, if text is embedded within a pixelated image it may not be detected and checked by text proof reading tools. Therefore understand the limits of the tools you are using and make sure there are appropriate manual checks to augment.
So the use of technology can indeed be really useful enabler, making up for people’s common mistakes, ensuring process compliance and enabling a quicker response. There are multiple packages available with different strengths and opportunities. Making the selection is an important decision that should involve representation from all of the functions that will be involved in the implementation, use and maintenance of the chosen solution.
In my next article I will talk about the importance of the artwork brief.
To help you in your Artwork Improvement Program, you can also find useful information in my book Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities
Should you have any questions about this or any other of my blogs, or would simply like to request a copy of my booklets, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on my email.
For more information on artwork, go to our free download section.