Debut for Brit-developed automation software

By Jo Francis, Wednesday 01 November 2017

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Start-up British software company Daena has made its debut at Ipex with an innovative solution for automating repetitive pre-media tasks in packaging artwork that could also have wider applications.

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Daena team at Ipex: (l-r) Ridyard, Sanderson, Foster

It’s the first trade show outing for the Yorkshire firm, which was set up by three ex-Sun Branding Solutions colleagues who saw an opportunity to pool their significant expertise in packaging pre-media workflows in order to solve a problem they had encountered time and again themselves.  

“Daena is a Zoroastrianism word that means ‘that which is seen or observed’, which is quite apt in relation to our product,” explained technical director Hamish Sanderson.

The Daena system came about due to the trio’s own experiences in handling and managing the repetitive artworking task of placing elements such as nutritional information, multiple languages, and barcodes, when creating packaging and label artwork in Adobe Illustrator.

The software is a desktop application that has been built using a bespoke version of Python. It drives Adobe Illustrator in order to “take out the drudge work” and free up operator time for more valuable tasks. The software takes in native Illustrator files, and the resulting file is also a native Illustrator file.  

“It can take half an hour of work on a pull-off or mark-up sheet to put in all the master elements,” explained managing director Jason Ridyard. “That time can be saved – even if 80% of that can be automated it’s a huge advantage and saving on manual artworking. If you have 500 labels to produce then you’ve got to throw people at it. We throw technology at it instead.

“It allows the operator to get some time back, that they can then apply to value tasks,” he added.  

The Daena solution has been three years in the making and involves a three-pronged approach. The first step is Insight, a consultancy process that involves assessing current working practices and the creation of a proposal detailing what can be automated.

The software then has two output options: Accelerate, which Sanderson described as “semi-autonomation” and Complete, for full automation.

A reporting suite is built in to allow customers to check their progress.

“We know the struggle personally, and we realise how much people love their brands,” added sales and marketing director Steve Foster. “This is about retaining control of the artwork and brand, and improving quality control.”

One multi-national packaging company is already using the Daena system. Ridyard described the client as “a strategic customer that we can work with and learn from each other”.

“We’ve had as many non-packaging people on our stand as packaging firms. It has applications in all sorts of other areas including newspapers and garments,” he said. “Volume is our friend with this system.”

The firm charges for the initial Insight consultancy, and the software costs around £5,000 for a site licence plus a click count charge for Accelerate and Complete. The higher the volume, the lower the click charge.

 

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