Musings on color management, CHROMiX products and services and other relevant topics.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

 Maxwell for Press Operations at IWCO Direct: Ease, Efficiency, and Expedience

After difficulties with spot color and process control, IWCO Direct, North America’s largest direct mail marketing distributor, found that CHROMiX’s Maxwell system reduces waste, increases accuracy, and mitigates workflow obstacles.

The Dilemma

Day-to-day, IWCO Direct runs twelve high-speed, high-volume production inkjet printers making up one of the largest digital print platforms in North America, responsible for manufacturing and distributing billions of pieces of media. It’s crucial that the company’s work be precise, consistent, and efficient. A number of things can easily go wrong in such a delicately balanced system. If a brand’s colors are inconsistent across different materials due to uncalibrated and unmonitored presses, it could cost the company an important contract.

IWCO Direct’s Color Technical Specialist, Mike Todryk, joined the company in 2015 and the Color Technical Support team quickly began improving their color management systems. Their knowledge and attention to detail grew leaps and bounds as they became more familiar with color management and monitoring. Once the team began to use four-color processes more consistently, they realized that their current software product was not sufficient for the precision they sought: “We wanted to be able to look at the grey scale and really analyze it,” shares Todryk. Without this capability, the company could not approach the color consistency and precision it needed.

The team’s issue wasn’t just with color accuracy; they also struggled to maximize workflow efficiency with continuously running presses. It was challenging to plan calibrations and maintenance to reduce wasted time, energy, and materials. They had no way of anticipating issues with their inkjets, so it wasn’t uncommon for the team to have to do unscheduled maintenance during non-work hours, so the presses could continue to function. 

Together, these issues suggested that the company had insufficient automation and monitoring of their day-to-day processes; they were potentially at risk for costly errors.

The Solution:

Fortunately, Mr. Todryk already had experience working with CHROMiX prior to joining IWCO Direct. When he realized the color management team needed more precision than their current software was able to provide, he recalled his positive experiences with CHROMiX’s Maxwell software. When he had last used Maxwell, his team “immediately began to see improvements in their processes.” 

“CHROMiX is a one-stop shop for everything you’ll need with regard to color, from equipment to advice. It’s not just the website and the resources; it’s the people.” Todryk

Originally launched in 2008, Maxwell is a cloud-based color management system that may be used flexibly in a variety of contexts, including with inkjet presses. Users can enter and track various devices, monitor printing, watch trends, and create print performance programs. As of 2022, the Maxwell repository contains over 350 million measurements, thousands of registered devices, and is used across four continents. Maxwell monitors print color output as well as color measurement instruments. The automated measurement process reduces errors, the need for training, and time spent managing color. 

It was a natural next step for IWCO Direct’s Color Technical Support team to contact CHROMiX. “They set us up and let us do a trial to see how it would work,” Todryk explains. IWCO Direct’s color management team worked with CHROMiX to implement new processes using Maxwell. This revolutionized the department’s efforts to improve accuracy, consistency, and efficiency. “Before that, we were using another product for four-color process, but we couldn’t get the detailed level of analysis that we’d hope we would get, and that’s why we switched over to Maxwell,” shares Todryk. “I knew that Maxwell could create histograms and the graphs, taking multiple printers and comparing them to one another. Other software just didn’t offer any of those kinds of features.”

Implementing Maxwell in the company’s day-to-day processes provided increased efficiency, precision, and peace of mind for Todryk and his team. The convenience of having all essential information in one location was undeniable. This meant that devices, materials, and environmental factors could be consistently monitored and trends could be observed over time.

“We couldn’t get the detailed level of analysis we needed. That’s why we switched to Maxwell.”

The Result:

Now, Todryk’s team at IWCO Direct integrates readings from different devices in one interface, reducing opportunity for human error. Across four facilities, readings are taken multiple times a day from the company’s twelve inkjet presses. With Maxwell, those readings are automatically integrated into different tracks depending on press and paper. The team can flexibly analyze trend reports in multiple ways. Notifications are automatic if failures occur, and the team is able to react immediately as a result. 

The group frequently uses Maxwell to generate graphs for executive management. “W show quarterly graphs of how we did last quarter, how we’re doing this quarter with regard to reducing Delta-E, since we’re looking to drive down our max and average Delta-E numbers and increase how close we are to G7,” Todryk explains. This level of rigor is what helps the team produce the precise work for which they are known.

  Maxwell has also made training much easier. As is common throughout the industry, it’s not unusual for press operators to speak English as a second language. Maxwell’s highly visual system makes training in color management simpler for both operators and their supervisors.

The color management team is able to track and monitor their printers on a daily basis from anywhere in the world. By watching trends in Maxwell, the team can anticipate press failures before they occur. If they see a vulnerability, they can recalibrate during down time rather than interrupting planned workflow. This drastically reduces wasted time and resources by allowing us to make the adjustment, test it, and get right back to live production,” Todryk explains. “Before, things would fail, but it would be at an inopportune time—maybe two in the morning.” Now, the team sleeps soundly through the night.

“Maxwell saves money, time, paper, ink, and productivity,” Todryk enthuses; “It allows us to see issues before they become problems.” 

Maxwell’s fully modernized new interface is being shown at Printing United this week in CHROMiX booth: N1071

IWCO Direct is a leading provider of data-driven direct marketing solutions that drive response across all marketing channels to create new and more loyal customers. The company’s full range of services includes strategy, creative, and execution for omnichannel marketing campaigns, along with one of the industry’s most sophisticated postal logistics strategies for direct mail.

In 2006, CHROMiX introduced the graphics market to the first cloud-based color management system, Maxwell. Today, Maxwell houses over 350 million measurements and is going strong. CHROMiX also co-developed with Don Hutcheson the first ratified, now de-facto G7 toolset, Curve. Finally, CHROMiX makes ColorThink and ColorThink Pro, the worlds #1 profile analysis and visualization software tool.

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