Printers Set Finishing Automation as an Important Priority for 2013

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Jun 6, 2013

A common theme that InfoTrends has been noticing among print service providers, for the past few years, has been centralized around finishing. Specifically the desire for printers to create fully automated end-to-end production workflows. In our annual U.S. Production Software Investment Outlook, we found that 23.5% of respondents have set improving finishing automation as an important priority for the 2013 year. Improving finishing automation is important because of the opportunity available for printers to reduce costs through improving production turnaround times, reducing dependency for manual labor, and removing human errors.

Top 10 Workflow Initiatives for 2013

OEMS such as HP and Xerox recognize the need for more automation in finishing and have recently announced new solutions in this area. Debuted at drupa 2012, HP introduced their HP SmartStream Finishing Connectivity solution and Xerox introduced their Xerox Integrated PLUS Finishing Solution for Booklets and. While both new announcements are developed to assist printers with creating automated finishing workflows, they have different approaches to automation with their new product offerings. Xerox solution focuses on offering providing flexibility through instant switching between in-line and near-line finishing, whereas HP developed an expert system that helps staff operate at higher levels of expertise.

  • Xerox Integrated PLUS solution was developed in partnership with CP Bourg, Ultimate Technographics, and StandardHorizon, with the intent to assist in automated booklet creation through integration with FreeFlow Process Manager. A unique component to this solution is the Xerox Dual-Mode Sheet Feeder, developed by CP Bourg that enables an inline finishing solution to act as a near-line solution or can turn an offline finishing solution into near-line. The feeder is activated by scanning a barcode that uses JDF and JMF data to automatically set up finishing devices.
  • HP SmartStream Finishing Connectivity solution is a finishing expert system that determines the most optimal finishing process for each job and communicates this to the required finishing device in the shop. It also shows operators how to finish the job in the most efficient way by visually displaying every finishing step on the console of the finishing device. The solution was developed through partnership with Ultimate Technographics Imposition intelligence software and communicates to devices through JDF and JMF data. SmartStream Finishing Connectivity can be used in production workflows for near-line finishing processes. The solution was showed at drupa as a technology demo and is expected to come on the market after summer.

The latest developments in finishing automation show that vendors are helping their customers achieve higher levels of automation. Having an automated finishing workflow provides printers with the opportunity to improve workflow efficiencies, provide faster turnaround times for jobs, and reduce costs associated with human errors. As the printing industry continues to evolve further optimizing production steps, we expect that the need for solutions that assist in finishing automation will continue to increase.

For a deeper insight into our findings on production finishing and predictions for the future of finishing automation, please see our analysis report entitled Workflow Bottlenecks: The Need for Automated Finishing and our recent Emerging Trends: Finishing in Production Print study, completed in partnership with OutputLinks & GCWorldBIZ and IPEX World, in our report store.

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