Category: Printing

At LabelExpo 2017 Workflow is Automated!

Pat McGrew
Oct 3, 2017

Underpinning a very successful LabelExpo 2017 was talk workflow and talk of speed. This year in Brussels we saw not only new technology for label production and finishing running at higher speeds, but we saw a growing emphasis on the workflow that drives production, with echos of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things in the subtext of every press conference and every workflow demonstration.

Across the 9 halls and 679 exhibitors there was workflow specified on the signage, in the demonstrations, and most notably, in the Automation Arena, where the emphasis was on live demonstrations of automated conventional and digital label and packaging solutions from Cerm, Esko, Xeikon, MPS, Kocher + Beck, grafotronic, AVT, WLE and Matho. The Automation Arena demonstrations were supported by Avery Dennison, FlintGroup and Zeller + Gmelin for inks and substrates. As a bonus, the LabelExpo team took the time to build a great YouTube video which you can find here and should be on your playlist if you work in label production.

The AVT Booth at LabelExpo 2017

Across all of the halls it was clear that the equipment manufacturers of flexo and digital solutions recognize that the key to a successful customer is not only reliable, flexible production equipment, but a solid set of workflow solutions to guide their clients towards the fullest possible automation. Many hardware suppliers have partnered with CERM, which bills itself as the business management software for narrow web printers. Their solution, which begins at quoting and touches the required stops through to warehousing, shipping and invoicing has components for costing, data collection and a Web to print solution called Web4Labels.

As common as the speed story prevalent among the hardware vendors was a new emphasis on job acquisition. The web-to-print story was everywhere, on signage and in booth demonstrations, and not just for digital solutions. Many of the flexo solution vendors also have web-to-workflow solutions that open new product options for their customers.

Durst featured Workflow and Web-to-Print on their signage.

Many vendors were emphasizing their options for variable data and variable imaging as digital print solutions and hybrid solutions vocalize their value propositions that include making output personal or at least customized. The team from Chili Publish, seen below, fresh from their successful Print 17 stand in Chicago, indicated that they were having vibrant conversations with both existing clients and prospects as they look for solutions to create value in the print chain. In Chicago next year and Brussels in two years from now it is likely that more software solutions providers will set up stands to engage in this growing market opportunity.

The team from Chili Publish at Label Expo 2017!

Worthy of note was a kiosk (seen below) in the FlintGroup/Xeikon booth touching on a topic that needs more focus across the industry: how to sell these great digital solutions. The Xeikon aXelerate program is one of several seen on the floor that put the spotlight on helping label producers sell the value proposition of digitally-produced labels. There are myriad product offerings that leverage what digital can do easily, such as adding targeted messages, QR codes, and other technologies.

Xeikon had a great story around helping to sell digital!

One of those technologies is Augmented Reality, which was available in the SCREEN booth in partnership with Solimar Systems. SCREEN Europe worked with Solimar to enable a set of labels (seen below) that, when viewed with the Solimar App, runs a video showing the SCREEN workflow and print story for labels. It was a great way to allow an attendee to carry a demo with them, though the signage in the booth missed the opportunity to spotlight this unique demonstration.

From productivity suites to job journeys, the emphasis on using workflow to a competitive advantage was clear in every hall. For any label producer who has not yet investigate web-to-print options and automated workflow options, this show is the clear indicator that this is the time to invest to stay competitive.

If you are wondering how you can stay competitive, consider spending some time in our report store (http://store.infotrendsresearch.com/ ) or engaging with us in the Production Workflow Service. We go to the shows and conferences, study the market, and do deep dives into the technology so that we can provide the best advice and guidance to our clients. We are standing by to help you on your path to automation.

 

 

If you have stories to share reach out to me! @PatMcGrew on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or Pat.McGrew@KeypointIntelligence.com all reach me. For more information on how to gain access to our research, market sizing & forecasts, or how to subscribe to our Production Workflow or other services, contact Deanna Flanick today at deanna.flanick@buyerslab.com!

Romano’s Ramblings: New Print Will Prevail!

Pat McGrew

by Frank Romano

Where will printers make money in the future? Some say it will be from digital printing? But digital printing is usurping analog volumes, and analog volumes are not growing. To grow, the printing industry must find new products and new services.

The best example of “new print” is wide-format inkjet printing. Go back to 1995. The first wide-format inkjets were seen as proofers for color printing. Suddenly, signage became a hot market. Not just signage, but color signage. Signage was done by screen printing, but full-color reproduction was not typical. The wide-format machines got bigger and bigger. Commercial printing companies added them to their fleet of production devices. Today, well over half of all printing firms have wide-format inkjet. They make money with a technology that was never predicted.

Predictions are hard. Back in the late 1990s, I gave a talk at RIT and said that there would be half as many printers in ten years. I was booed, and that was by the faculty. I remember when offset was said to be only for “quick and dirty printing” and when PostScript was just another printing driver.

 

 

There are no leading indicators for the future of technology. Not only did no one expect the Spanish Inquisition (sorry Monty Python), but no one expected Facebook and Twitter, etc. etc. In fact, no one ever predicted the Internet.

So, we come back to the original question. If printing services are to prosper, they must find new products and services. Paper-based volumes are declining. Therefore, printers must print on something besides paper. Some already do. Those printers invested in flatbed inkjet printing. They can print on foamcore, glass, plastic, ceramics, textiles, wood, metal, and more.

It is true that there are industrial plants that print on these materials right now. Of course, the quantities are in the millions, and there is little customization. But new print markets are evolving, like industrial design, home décor, specialty signage, promotional items, unique packaging, and other decorated items.

 

 

Print17 – First Take

Pat McGrew
Sep 21, 2017

by Marc Mascara and Pat McGrew

PRINT 17 made timely return to Chicago as multiple hurricanes impacted the southern United States. Roughly 20,000 attendees had the chance to learn from this year’s display of innovation and technology from over 450 exhibitors. The top five vendors remained the same, with only slight changes in booth sizes and rankings, but there was a renewed excitement with more hands-on equipment demonstrations and theatre presentations.

Print 17 Size Table

While PRINT is not a packaging, label, or wide format show, all major vendors were talking about these applications alongside solutions for enterprise and commercial print. It is a big decision to bring hardware to a show, yet a significant number of presses, toner and inkjet, along with finishing solutions were on the show floor.

A focus on print quality resonated throughout the show floor with announcements of new and improved inks, color management and automated calibration systems. Exhibitors such as SCREEN and Xerox are bringing to market ink formulations that enable offset-like quality on standard paper stocks, broadening the debate regarding pre-treatment of paper for InkJet presses. The emergence of inksets and priming solutions for offset stock continues to grow causing end users take note of potential lower costs that give them alternative paths to the print quality their customers demand. While not yet a trend, it will be interesting how ink and priming options play out as a factor in the overall equipment purchasing decision.

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Using the Mopria Print Service in a Home Office

Christine Dunne
Aug 31, 2017

We write a fair amount about mobile printing at Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends, but sometimes the best way to assess it is to try it ourselves. I was motivated to do so after I learned that the next version of Android (8.0) will integrate the Mopria Print Service from the get-go. No additional download will be required.

I wanted to see how things stand as is. I recently switched from an iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy, so figured it made sense to try printing from my new device. I still have Android version 7.0, and may not have access to 8.0 for another month or so.

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According to recent InfoTrends U.S. Enterprise Office Primary Research study, 40% of IT decision-makers indicated the #1 hurdle for digital conversion is cost.

Barbara Richards
Aug 29, 2017

Recent survey results from InfoTrends U.S. Enterprise primary research study of IT decision makers found that Enterprise customers see the cost associated with converting to digital processes as the greatest hurdle to conversion and this was most prevalent in the manufacturing (47%) and prof. services sectors (44%). Furthermore, they are also worried about the IT resources and the preference for paper—whether these are perceived or actual.

As far as initiatives or policies to reduce paper are concerned, the enterprise customers surveyed have mostly shifted to simple digital processes, such as sharing document more via e-mail (62%) or default printing on both sides of a document (53%). While more complex digital processes, such as document collaboration via cloud or Dropbox, are beginning to take on a more dominate role within these larger workgroups (51%).

What are the major hurdles to converting paper processes to digital?

Digital Conversion Hurdles by Vertical in Enterprise

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From Chaos to Calm: The Power of Print MIS

Pat McGrew
Jul 20, 2017

Power of Print MIS

If you come from the transaction side of production workflow, you have an array of business systems that control how jobs are accepted for production, when they are released into production, and how reporting is managed for compliance. If you come from the graphic arts side of production workflow, you have the same need to control job onboarding, the touchpoints of a job while it is in process, and to record the relevant information about the job all of the way to the point of billing. In some shops, the process is managed using a Print Management Information System (Print MIS) that integrates all facets of accepting and producing print work using software programs, data capturing tools, and reporting dashboards to ensure that all work is tracked and reported. On the other hand, in many shops some or all of these are activities achieved using sticky notes, whiteboards, projected spreadsheets, and envelopes with job notes carried from desk to desk and machine to machine during production.

If you are in that latter camp, this is a good time to start considering some automation. Many of your competitors are already adding automation to their business software portfolio to allow them to onboard and produce jobs more efficiently. This gives them an advantage at several levels. A good Print MIS program offers insight into the jobs that are onboarded, where each job is in production, what jobs are experiencing delays, job costs, and ultimately a view of the revenue. Most can generate e-tickets for job tracking, and even track waste data. Most importantly, a Print MIS becomes the system of record for all jobs, which means if job specifications change during job execution, the information is entered into the Print MIS and available to all departments immediately.

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Bobst and Radex Announce Launch of Mouvent – a New Digital Print Focused Company

James Hanlon
Jul 18, 2017

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July 6, 2017 — Bobst and inkjet technology developer Radex, officially announced the launch of Mouvent, a new joint venture company that will become the digital printing competence center and solutions provider of Bobst. Mouvent to be led by the co-founder of Radex, Piero Pierantozzi, will bring to market 3 digital devices this year, two single-pass label machines and one multi-pass textile printer, with two additional textile printers to be announced later this year.

Radex was founded by Piero Pierantozzi, Peter Brandenberger, Marcel Galliker and Walter Urech, all of whom were also the founders of Graph-Tech AG, which was sold to Domino Printing Sciences in 2012. Mouvent, co-founded with Bobst in June 2017, has headquarters in Solothurn and Wetzikon Switzerland with 80 total employees. Mouvent shares are held 50.1% by Bobst with the remainder being heled by Radex shareholders.

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Interacting with Ricoh Customers!

Pat McGrew
Jun 28, 2017

When vendors decide to host user meetings they have two obligations: provide value for the time spent and help customers build a network. The Ricoh INTERACT meeting in Boulder last week met both requirements. The agenda was the best mix of technical education, market education, motivation, and fun for the attendees.

2017 Interact Template

It is a big request when vendors reach out to customers and ask them to leave their businesses for several days on the promise that they will learn things they can take back and use to grow their business. It requires a delicate balance between presentations and discussions. The INTERACT meeting hit the right balance by including several of their customers as featured presenters.

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Are Millennials All That Different? Not Really.

Christine Dunne
Jun 1, 2017

Companies are eager to learn more about Millennials, or those born roughly between 1981 and 1997 (making them between 20 and 36 years old). As they enter the workforce and move up the corporate ranks, they are increasingly making decisions around what to purchase and how to conduct business.

Here at Keypoint Intelligence, we frequently receive questions from clients interested in how Millennials are behaving differently from their Generation X and Baby Boomer counterparts—particularly from an office printing and document workflow perspective. Perhaps surprisingly, a mounting body of research is showing they are quite similar in their habits.

European primary research as an example
Last year, we conducted a web survey of 250 Western European office workers (125 in Spain; 125 in the United Kingdom). Responses were balanced across four age ranges: 18-29 year olds, 30-39 year olds, 40-49 year olds, and 50+ year olds. Among the 18-29 year olds, the large majority of whom are Millennials, printing levels were similar to (and in some cases greater than) those of older workers. For example, similar percentages of Millennials are printing various document types.

Percent of respondents that print various types of work documents

Percent of respondents that print various types of work documents

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2016 InfoTrends, Inc.

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