Category: Production

Do You Have a Workflow?

Pat McGrew
Jul 19, 2016

Most companies that have a printing operation believe that they have a workflow process. In-plant departments, packaging converters, direct mail providers, commercial printers, sign shops and transaction producers all know that to keep the business running they must identify each job, break it down into components, and track it through their organization until it is delivered to the end client. That makes the obvious answer to the question: Yes! Of course our company has a workflow. Jobs come in and they flow through the organization.

 What is Workflow?

The repeatable and auditable tasks, events, and processes used to consistently move work from job onboarding through to completion. Some or all tasks may be automated toward the goal of super-efficiency and predictability in production and supply chain management.

On closer inspection, however, what most organizations have is a series of processes that have grown over the years to mitigate bottlenecks as they arise. Whiteboards, spreadsheets projected on the wall, boards with sticky notes holding job information, flags and lights visible across the enterprise, and physical job jackets, emerge over time as teams look for ways to ensure that all of the stakeholders know the status of the jobs coming through the plant. While all of these processes serve a purpose, they rarely provide a consistent view of a slice of time because they are only tied together by the thinnest of strings and an agreement among the participants to keep the reporting current. What happens when a team member is on vacation or new team members are added? The process often suffers because new thought processes were added. New team members may have new ideas, even better ideas, on how to move work and report on progress. That begets change and evolution, but is it a workflow?

WorkflowLight2

Unless all of the processes are tied into a Read more »

The Very Last drupa Article (Maybe)

Frank Romano
Jul 11, 2016

 

The show is over. The exhibitors have left the buildings. The pundits have chimed in. drupa 2016 is now history.

The every-3-year cycle idea was quashed and we are back to the 4-year cycle. I remember when it was every 5 years. So, we will all meet in 2020. Well, maybe all of you. I may be 79.

Frank was one of six journalists honored for attending 10 or more drupas

Frank was one of six journalists honored for attending 10 or more drupas

Sales statistics were impressive—big orders, big bucks. Every exhibitor sold something. No one does a total, but my guess is that there was over half a billion dollars in business.

Read more »

Reinventing HP Inc.: The 2016 Industry Analyst Summit

Jim Hamilton, Jeff Hayes and Deborah Hawkins
Jul 1, 2016

Last week HP Inc. brought a sizeable group of industry analysts to Boston for the first time since splitting from Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The goal was to discuss its priorities and outline how it intends to grow. The company’s bold vision and mission statements set the tone for the details that followed:

  • Vision: Create technology that makes life better for everyone everywhere
  • Mission: Engineer experiences that amaze

HP Strategy

Dion Weisler kicked off the event by outlining the company’s strategy and describing four major trends that impact the company’s decisions: Read more »

Epson Acquires Robustelli to Secure its Position in the Production Digital Textile Printing Market

James Hanlon and Ron Gilboa
Jun 27, 2016

Epson Group and Epson Italia S.p.A. announced that they agreed with the Robustelli family to acquire 100% of the capital of Fratelli Robustelli S.r.l. (“Robustelli”). This agreement aims to help Epson and Robustelli gain share in the fast-growing digital textile printing market.

Robustelli was one of the early innovators that used Epson’s printhead technology to develop the Monna Lisa product line. These products are considered the standard for high-quality digital textile printing. Located in Como, Italy, Robustelli had 25 employees and an annual turnover of over €12 million in 2015. The company’s heritage is in the textile machinery industry, developing, manufacturing, and selling Monna Lisa inkjet textile printers. Epson will deploy its worldwide sales and service network to sell Robustelli’s high-end printing systems in more countries and regions around the world, expanding its current footprint and reaching emerging digital markets.

Read more »

Four Things that Surprised Me at drupa 2016

Jim Hamilton
Jun 20, 2016

I’d already been briefed on a lot of drupa 2016 news before I left home so I wasn’t really expecting much to surprise me when I arrived in Germany. I was wrong. I’ll name four announcements or technology demonstrations that truly surprised me. I’d argue that each of these was strategically designed to make a simple statement to the effect of: “Hey everybody, we can do this.” These types of developments are what make a mega-show like drupa so special.

drupa 2016 flags - 400

These are the items that caught me off guard: Read more »

The Top drupa 2016 Trends

Jim Hamilton, Jeff Hayes, Ron Gilboa, Ralf Schlozer and Ryan McAbee
Jun 14, 2016

After digesting a week of meetings at drupa 2016 (May 31st to June 10th, Düsseldorf, Germany) along with plenty of good German food and beer, the InfoTrends analyst team believes the show can be characterized by five major themes:

drupa 2016 flags - 400

  1. Inkjet 3.0 –After important advances in production inkjet printing at drupa 2008 and 2012, this drupa can be considered “inkjet drupa 3.0” because of new and improved print heads, higher quality levels, wide printhead arrays, improved performance on a range of substrates, and expansion across a range of document, packaging, and decorative applications. These developments have brought digital printing into the mainstream. All of the leading offset press manufacturers are now committed to a digital print strategy, and though for some there is an important component that is based on electrophotography, it is the high productivity levels of inkjet that have convinced them that there is a place for digital print in production environments.
  2. Digital printing of packaging – Though digital printing of packaging is certainly being influenced by inkjet, the major theme in this area is process automation. Digital printing, digital embellishment, and digital die-cutting were seen integrated across many production lines for labels, folding cartons, corrugated packaging, and even some direct-to-shape applications. Despite its commercial print heritage, drupa is morphing into a show with a significant package printing component. Meeting the needs of different segments of the packaging market is a challenge that requires effective software, workflow, and finishing if the true advantages of digital print for the entire supply chain are to be gained. It’s not clear today that digital printing system vendors have fully grasped the magnitude of this.
  3. B1 digital – Many commercial printers have an almost emotional attachment to the B1-format press platform that has served them so well for offset printing. The new generation of B1-format digital printing devices appeals to them because they can see how they would fit easily into their production lines with minimal disruption (despite the fact that smaller digital devices might be just as efficient and/or cost effective). drupa 2016 saw the arrival of larger format digital cut-sheet color printing systems as well as off-line systems for special effects such as spot gloss, dimensional effects, and metallic foils. The progress in B1 sheet-fed design is facilitated by wider inkjet arrays that benefit from the latest advances in inkjet head technology. The challenge for any of these larger format digital printing devices is to meet the production requirements for quality, consistency, substrate support, and color registration while performing at high speed. Also important is integration of finishing technologies that leverage the benefits of digital print. Therefore laser cutting and creasing, particularly for folding carton applications, is also advancing, and for some of these devices the focus is on a B1 sheet size. For the off-line digital devices used for special effects, the B1 sheet size opens up sizeable opportunities because these systems are capable of supporting conventional presses as well as digital printers.
  4. Special effects – Offset print processes have typically excelled at special effects beyond process color such as spot gloss, flood coats, foils, and corporate color matching. This kind of embellishment is now accelerating for digital print. Electrophotographic devices are using effects like printed metallic, dimensional, clear gloss, spot colors, fluorescent, security and other embellishments to differentiate the printed products and provide added value. Inkjet, particularly with ultraviolet (UV) curing inks, is extending this with some eye-popping results that leverage dimensional clear and metallic foil. The use of hybrid configurations, including those that leverage electrophotography and inkjet together, will have compelling applications in commercial and packaging markets. Many of the off-line special effect solutions, as noted above, are able to support larger format conventional sheet sizes, which opens their market impact significantly.
  5. Industry 4.0 – For many years, system providers have talked about how production data can be used to drive operational excellence and even facilitate predictive service calls. Cloud-enabled production data tracking is now making this type of data-driven production a reality, not only for commercial and packaging applications, but for decorative and industrial ones as well. Today these tend to focus on a single vendor platform (rather than a true heterogeneous ecosystem). Despite these limitations there are still many benefits, such as performance benchmarking across peers with similar equipment. This also elevates the importance of automated workflows that make it easy for production managers to assess and react to their production site(s) based on real-time data. Taking this even further, InfoTrends expects to see semi-autonomous print production and robotic automation culminate in what has been described as “Industry 4.0,” in other words the foundation of a fourth industrial revolution that is based upon automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, similar as what has happened in the car industry.

Read more »

Millennials Won’t Respond to Printed Catalogs and Direct Mail, Right? WRONG!

Eve Padula
Jun 7, 2016

In a world where consumers are inundated by online requests and e-mail messages, printed communications really cut through the clutter and attract attention. Although some might think that tried-and-true marketing methods like direct mail and catalogs primarily appeal to Baby Boomers, InfoTrends’ research shows that even Millennials are responsive to these communications.

In late 2015, InfoTrends conducted a benchmark study entitled Direct Marketing Production Printing & Value-Added Services: A Strategy for Growth. This effort included an in-depth survey to uncover what the future holds for marketers, consumers, and direct mail printers. The findings from this survey were broken down by age demographic, and respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 are considered Millennials for the purposes of this study. Read more »

The Value of Tradeshows… As I Head to drupa!

Barb Pellow
May 27, 2016

drupa is the largest printing equipment and supplies manufacturer exhibition in the world. This year’s event will feature over 1,800 exhibitors and a projected 300,000 visitors (40%+ German, 8% Indian, 7% Belgian, 7% French, 6% Dutch, 5% British, and <5% North American), all in the span of 11 days (May 31 – June 10, 2016). Our industry has changed dramatically since The Great Recession, but marketers and business executives continue to watch their pennies and scrutinize every decision while exploring new and different ways to do business in today’s economy. As drupa looms, business owners, decision-makers, and participants alike may question the value of exhibiting at and attending trade events when information is so readily available on personal computers and mobile devices.

Why Exhibit at drupa?

Read more »

RISO Announces New Inkjet Products at Dealer Event

Jim Hamilton
May 26, 2016

RISO has had high-speed inkjet in its ComColor line since 2005. At its recent Americas dealer event (May 18-19 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas) it announced product line updates as well as some production-oriented news for the upcoming drupa trade show (May 31 to June 10 in Dusseldorf, Germany). RISO’s ComColor products have always straddled the line between office use and light production. With the announcement of these two new offerings the company is differentiating the product family to target the products to the right customers.

RISO - Caesars Palace - 400
The new inkjet products are the GD9630 and the FW5230. RISO calls the GD9630 “Professional Inkjet” or “Pro-Jet” while it uses the term “Business Inkjet” or “Biz-Jet” for the FW5230:

Read more »

KBA VariJET 106 & The Making of ‘The B1 drupa’

Bob Leahey
May 25, 2016

KBA-Sheetfed Solutions, a division of German press manufacturer KBA, announced recently it will offer a B1 sheet fed inkjet press called KBA VariJET 106 for printing folding cartons. The new press will be built on the platform of KBA Rapida 106, a sheet fed offset press, and on an inkjet print engine and DFE by Xerox Impika. According to KBA, KBA VariJET 106 will print 4,500 sheets per hour in B1 size (750 x 1060mm/29.5 x 41.7 inches) and will be modular in nature, allowing custom configurations to include Read more »

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