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Apogee and Technique: harmony and asset for printing company T'Hooft

As an independent rotogravure printer, T'Hooft enjoys a solid reputation in the magazine and advertising segments. The company was also among the first to use the Apogee workflow and when it looked into complementing it with an ERP/MIS system, it chose the ePS Technique solution. Both solutions are now integrated and work seamlessly together.

Automation contributes significantly to the profitability of printing companies. Integrating systems, optimizing processes and minimizing human intervention all save time, reduce the risk of errors, and lower costs. Ultimately, it may make the difference between a company that is profitable and satisfies its customers and one that is no longer competitive.

This has been known for a long time at T'Hooft. The company occupies a distinct place in the Belgian graphics landscape: the rotogravure printing company has remained family-owned and independent, and thanks to a well-thought-out investment strategy, it is considered a model in its market.

75 years of history

The company's history began in the Belgian town of Landegem, where Raphaël T'Hooft founded a small print shop in 1949.

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From the 1970s on, the business developed rapidly and moved location to eventually settle in its current premises in Aalter in 2007. During that time, three generations succeeded each other at the head of the company: Raphaël handed over the baton to his son Bart, who in turn passed on the daily management to his son-in-law Bruno Braem.

T'Hooft specializes in heatset web offset printing. Behind an imposing glass façade are three presses: a KBA Compacta 818 72-page, a KBA Compacta C80 80-page and a Lithoman 48-page. All three can cut and glue inline. The two KBAs can also staple, while the Lithoman is equipped for delta folding and double parallel folding and has recently been equipped with ILF, allowing it to offer inline roll folding and tabernacle folding as well.

Flexibility and efficiency

The flexibility of the equipment enables the company to handle a wide variety of jobs in a variety of formats and finishes: posters, magazines and advertising work, which make up the majority of its business. Its customer base includes major retailers and extends across the country, reaching as far as France and the Netherlands. In addition, the company shares its premises with two other companies in the T'Hooft family: the graphic agency Thoverkracht, and the mailing and finishing workshop SelectMail. Overall, an extensive range of services are being offered.

"Aside from the flexibility of our equipment, I think our main strengths are our responsiveness and speed of execution,” estimates Prepress Manager David Van De Velde. This responsiveness rests largely on the commitment of the company's 40 employees, but also on the integrated Technique – Apogee workflow.

David Van De Velde, Prepress Manager at T'Hooft (right) and Erik Peeters, Marketing Manager Software Solutions at ECO3

JDF-integration with Apogee

T'Hooft always wanted to have the most efficient tools at its disposal. The print shop was therefore one of the early adopters of the ECO3 Apogee. Launched in 2003, this workflow was the very first to work entirely with the PDF format. More than 20 years and 13 versions later, the technology remains the market leader. At T'Hooft, it feeds an ECO3Avalon thermal CtP platesetter.

For several years now, Apogee has also been integrated with the ERP/MIS system Technique, developed by ePS.

We first tried another ERP system, but it didn't give us any advantage. So, we analyzed other solutions and attended demos, including for ePS Technique. During that demo, the JDF integration with Apogee came up, and that convinced us. We installed Technique in 2017, with some solid preparation beforehand. Once the ERP system was properly up and running, connecting to Apogee turned out to be quite easy. Within a few days, the two systems were working perfectly together.

David Van De Velde, Prepress Manager

A single system

In practical terms, customer quotations and orders are entered into ePS Technique along with all production data, including imposition. "This is where the synergy between Apogee and Technique unfolds its full potential: all relevant order data, including imposition schedules, are transmitted directly from Technique to Apogee. Before, we had to enter all the data twice, customer name, order number, imposition information, etc., which was time-consuming and also error-prone."

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The Impose module is one of Apogee's strengths. Thanks to this module, imposition data can be automatically calculated and updated according to the parameters of each job, making a huge library with thousands of templates unnecessary.

"We also find the versioning module very useful. After all, we print for all of Belgium, often in both French and Dutch. We have orders where the only change is the language, and the integration of the systems saves us 15 to 20 minutes per print order."

Our customers supply the PDF pages online. ePS Technique manages correct customer information, such as customer name and email, and transmits it to Apogee. The customers are then invited via Apogee WebApproval to upload their document. Proof approval is also completed in WebApproval. The job can be printed within 24 hours if the procedure is followed properly.

Need an update? You’ll be fine!

"ECO3 and ePS have been working together for some time," says Erik Peeters, Marketing Manager Software Solutions at ECO3. "As a result, our systems are highly integrated. Our partnership will only deepen the connection while simplifying it for all parties - especially our customers."

The effectiveness of that partnership is evidenced by the ease of the upgrades, which are typically a delicate step for custom-configured systems. As David Van de Velde reports, "We recently updated Apogee without the slightest communication problem with the ERP. When ePS plans an update, we do tests in advance to detect any problems in time. It is important that all our software is up to date, but the integration between the two systems saves so much time that it is also of prime importance."

Alliance between ECO3 and eProductivity Software empowers print success

ECO3 and eProductivity Software (ePS) are pleased to announce a strategic partnership that will push automation in print production to the next level.

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Innovate, interact, and optimize. That’s the Apogee workflow software philosophy with which you stay ahead of the competition. Because quality and efficiency can never be rated too high in the printing business.

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