Good order management for spot colours

Tracking and managing the high volume of orders presents a logistical challenge to package printers who process spot colours in-house with an ink dispenser. Order management software provides the key to an efficient, productive print workflow.

Processing label or packaging orders with spot colour artwork involves special process steps because of the complex route that flexo or gravure inks typically take, when they are blended in-house with an ink dispenser. If done efficiently with dedicated software, spot colour order management brings smooth production flow and lower administration costs.

The challenge with managing spot colours

Managing orders that require inks to be blended into special brand ‘spot’ colours poses planning and data-handling challenges for a packaging printer. There is likely to be a large number of live orders, each with multiple colours. Without software-driven management, the potential for mix-ups and high administration is great.

What to look for in software for managing spot colour orders

  • Ink room staff need to retrieve data, such as the order’s ink formulation or printing press specifications, without delay.
  • An organised system is needed to schedule dispensing so that each batch of ink is available at the right time, in the desired quantity – that must not fall below the minimum volume levels of the press it is allocated to.
  • For traceability and job costing purposes, it must be easy to identify the customer order that each batch of ink has been created for.

How order management software improves planning and tracking

Using a customer order as the point of reference for the dispensed ink batches is the best way to meet these needs, allowing better planning and tracking.

Using GSE’s Order management software module, available within GSE Ink manager, orders can be entered (or imported from MIS – see below) and planned to make job status clearly visible for easy monitoring.

The software allocates orders to specific presses and identifies customers. Once a specific press or customer is selected, relevant specifications, such as minimum required ink volume in the ink chamber, can be extracted and incorporated into the order. Each order includes a table with rows of proposed ink formulas and their weights. It is even possible to define, row by row, the position in the printing press where the formula must be printed.

After production, ink consumption and costs for the job are easily retrievable.

Managing whites, process colours and coatings
Flexo printers are increasingly using non-blended inks alongside spot colours in their production schedules. These can be standard process colour or ‘expanded gamut’ (EG) printing jobs, but it can also include whites, varnishes and coatings. With our software, the consumption of these components can also be booked on the production order, without the need for a ‘paper trail’.

MIS Integration brings higher margins

Using an interface with a management information system (MIS), customer orders with ink requirements can be imported into GSE Ink manager. Furthermore, using customer orders as a reference means the information about each batch may be exported easily to MIS. Integrating these systems reduces errors, accelerates time to press and ultimately delivers higher margins, through automation and better control of ink use.

Benefits of order-based management

  • better planning
  • reduced data entry
  • retrieve data such as recipes, job status, job costs without delay
  • fast job start
  • reduced makeready time
  • automation of the entire order process when integrated with GSE MIS Connect
  • traceability reports with order information when used in conjunction with GSE Traceability
  • automatic calculation of ink requirements per order when used in conjunction with GSE Article management
  • automatic subtraction of returned ink’s weight from the consumption total when used in conjunction with GSE Return ink management

The process steps of order management

Step 1: customer places an order

The customer service department gets an order for a run of labels or packages from a brand owner. The department creates the sales order and makes an order confirmation, after which the planning department plans production.

Step 2: generating an ink production order

Using the order management software, the operator generates an ink production order with the sales order number as reference. For this, the software allows you to create a line for each colour on the job, select the colour recipe and specify the required weight. When entering the order, the operator may also specify:

  • the desired printing press for the job
  • each colour’s position in the printing sequence on the press
  • scheduled dispensing date and time
Scheduling an ink production order with GSE Order management


If the software is integrated with the corporate MIS, it can import the order with the order lines, as described above.

Step 3: creating the dispensed ink batch
Initiate the dispensing of each colour, which automatically generates a printed label for each batch.

Step 4: booking in inks returned from the press
After the job is finished, book in press returns (leftover inks) based on the order – weighing the bucket, printing the container label. The program will subtract the returned ink’s weigh from the consumption total for reporting purposes.

Step 5: generate a job report
Generate report giving details of ink used for the job and its cost, per colour.

Are you looking to automate order management?

Contact us to learn how GSE’s Order management software can help you achieve better efficiency and responsiveness in your print workflow.