Esko unveils new release of its Automation Engine workflow

30 March 2021

Esko has unveiled a major new release of its market-leading Automation Engine workflow solution, packed with new capabilities and for the first time available as a Software-as-a-Service (‘SaaS’).

“Designed and built by packaging experts, for packaging experts, Automation Engine has established itself over many years as the benchmark for optimised prepress workflow automation,” said Jan De Roeck, Esko Director of Marketing, Strategy and Industry Relations. “This latest release represents a major step forward for Automation Engine. It introduces a cloud-based deployment option and an intuitive new web-based user experience that ensures even the most casual user will be able to initiate, communicate and work across teams effectively.

“This new Automation Engine will make prepress automation more accessible and easier to use for both long-time customers and for companies that are just starting out on their automation journey,” said Jan. “Users can access their personalised, secure, workspace at any time, from anywhere, in the new My WorkSpace application. For customers looking for even more flexibility, we are proud to introduce our new cloud-based offering, which takes the prepress experience to a new level in terms of quality, productivity and connectivity.

“With Automation Engine SaaS, we are giving customers the opportunity to enjoy the operational benefits of standardised automated workflows while embracing the freedom of cloud-based computing,” he said. “Not only does Automation Engine SaaS reduce IT infrastructure overheads and headaches – such as flexible up-and-downscaling of server capacity, security, backup, guaranteed uptime and availability - but it also helps to boost operational productivity and cross-site working.”

Esko Automation Engine is the automated workflow solution that automates prepress tasks and integrates with business systems, which speeds up the process, and more importantly reduces the error rate and need for operator intervention. “Flexible to fit with individual business needs, scalable and customised to optimise individual workflows, Automation Engine has become the beating heart of the prepress process,” said Esko Product Manager Paul Land. “With this new release, the heart of the prepress is beating stronger than ever.”

On top of the My WorkSpace application and next generation user experience, the newest release of Automation Engine includes a new ‘drop zone’ feature, which makes launching workflows quicker and easier by enabling users to search and select workflows, drag and drop files to it, edit parameters and initiate - all from one location.

“Quick and easy viewing of files for detailed quality checks is now made easy with a browser-based viewing tool,” added Paul, “while new Jobs and Products views grant users the ability to efficiently search jobs and assets, access files, view their status and launch workflows from one workspace.

“With Automation Engine SaaS, we enable easy access and fast deployment, reducing the need for IT support or additional operational costs,” said Paul. “SaaS users simply access the software online using the new subscription-based model, which enables businesses to significantly reduce IT maintenance overheads. Utilising common software across locations is made easy and the SaaS model means there’s no longer any need to download and manually install the latest software versions onto individual computers whenever a new update or release is issued.”

Being a subscription service, a simple, flexible and transparent tier-based pricing model offers a predictable cost to help with IT budgeting and management. “With the price including a storage allowance and no bandwidth charges, the SaaS model guarantees a low step-in price and faster ROI for customers,” said Paul. “With IT and licensing costs now reduced through automation and outsourcing, this delivers a flexible pricing model that scales with the needs, size and growth of a business.”

Esko developed Automation Engine SaaS in response to the ongoing challenges faced by its customers, and feedback from early adopters has been very positive.

"With Automation Engine SaaS we can centralise resources in terms of expertise, software and hardware, delivering cost and time savings and reducing operational risks,” said Mark King, Technical Manager – Division, Essentra Packaging. “Therefore, this is great timing and exactly in line with Essentra’s strategy for 2021 and beyond.”

Meanwhile, Marybeth Foss, Senior Enterprise Prepress Architect, Fortis Solutions Group, praised the SaaS solution’s reduced IT requirements. “The biggest benefit for us has been the hands-off IT deployment and maintenance,” said Marybeth. “The simplicity of the cloud-based offer means that we have the ability to build and grow, but without the traditional infrastructure considerations and challenges. It keeps us operationally agile and ideally prepared for the future.”