After seven years of experience with an automated workflow, Outreach Inc. would not be able to function anymore without the system pdfToolbox for their automated preflighting process.
Outreach Inc. was founded in 1996 and is located in Colorado Springs, the United States. The company has grown significantly over the years and, in addition to printing and publishing, is now also engaged in other business activities such as web media, consulting, lead generation, etc. Outreach Inc. is active all over the United States and Canada.
Outreach Inc.’s clients consist primarily of churches and non-profit organizations that are associated with the church community. The company’s goal is to provide these organizations with the highest quality products at the most affordable prices.
Since Outreach Inc. primarily works with churches, their production is rather seasonal. During periods such as Christmas and Easter, they experience huge spikes in their orders. "Throughout these peak times, we always encountered two problems," says Steve Swart, Production Manager at Outreach Inc. “First, we missed a lot of manual preflight errors which surfaced unannounced during the printing process. Second, due to the large volume of orders, we had someone working more than 10 hours a day solely on preflighting jobs.”
In 2014, the situation was no longer sustainable and it was time for a change in the preproduction process at Outreach Inc. “From previous work experiences, I knew what benefits and precision an automated preflight application could bring”, reports Steve Swart. “After all, with solid software, you are not dependent on human errors or fatigue that can disrupt the workflow. The application always does what you ask it to do. So I managed to convince our COO that I should search for a software solution that would clean up our biggest issues. Through a reseller, we eventually came into contact with Four Pees.”
After discussing Outreach Inc.'s problems and needs, Four Pees' CTO David van Driessche and the reseller suggested pdfToolbox Server as the best possible solution. “David initially built a few profiles for us and then we have just continued to grow it from there. At the moment, we have about 140 jobs running in callas due to the different product variations we offer”, states Steve Swart. “That number is a combination of work from our internal design department, work from our web-to-print that is fed in through the command-line version of pdfToolbox and work that customers supply from an outside designer. Part of the reason that we have so many setups, is because products from our web-to-print have different requirements than products from our regular design department.”
“Another thing worth mentioning is that the entire installation process was done remotely”, adds Four Pees’ CTO David van Driessche. “After a year of covid-19, this seems very plausible, but in 2014 it was anything but obvious. Nevertheless, everything went smoothly and without any problems. Good communication was key in this example”. Steve Swart comments: “Even though the installation took place via telephone and David never came to visit the company, there was pretty much an immediate comfort level. We immediately felt that we could rely on David’s expertise and that it was going to work out.”
The installation of pdfToolbox Server has already provided Outreach Inc. with many advantages. “Before we purchased the software, I was having some graphic designers do the preflight process after I trained them. With the integration of pdfToolbox Server they could go back to their usual responsibilities and leave the repetitive and time-consuming preflight tasks behind”, says Steve Swart, Production Manager at Outreach Inc. “Seven years later, I don't think that anyone, except 1 or 2 colleagues other than myself, knows how manual preflighting works anymore. Automated preflighting has become part of our everyday activities and we rely entirely on the software. On the other hand, it has really set us up well for the current skill set crisis that is coming to the print industry since less and less are inclined to go into technical professions.”
“The biggest issue solved by installing pdfToolbox Server was the labor-saving aspect. Considering only this aspect, it was probably a 9- or 10-month ROI. When taking into account jobs we used to ruin on press, it would have even been quicker than that. We simply needed the labor savings, all of the other things like the cleanliness of the workflow, the dependability on the software day in day out, that was all bonus for us.”
Moreover, the seasonal approach does not provide an issue anymore for Outreach Inc. “We’ve never had a period were our pdfToolbox Server choked on any work. This Easter we probably had 3 or 4 weeks where we were doing at least a 1000 preflights a week out of our web-to-print and then probably another 400 internal design preflights. That is way more than what we were doing in 2014 and the software has no problem at all with it”, comments Steve Swart.
After seven years, Outreach Inc. is still very happy and convinced about pdfToolbox. They wouldn't be able to function without it anymore.