Automation For Profits

Want to make more money? It’s all about automation that increases efficiencies and boosts the bottom line. No matter your current level of automation, there is always more efficiency to squeeze out, whether its enhancing individual processes or revamping an entire workflow.

For new press technology, one of the ‘must stops’ on the show floor is the Presstek booth (2600), where the Presstek 75DI is making its North American debut. The press features what Presstek calls “extreme automation,” or 6-minute job-to-job turnover, including platemaking.

The 75DI incorporates new on-press imaging to speed makeready. The concept utilizes single-lens imaging in which all diodes image through a single lens. Press efficiency is further enhanced by a simultaneous imaging and cleaning of plates that optimizes makeready time between jobs.


More debuts

Also making its North American debut is HP Indigo’s top-of-the-line 7500 Digital Press, which includes Intelligent Automation, a major factor in enabling the press to boost productivity up to 10%. A new Vision System entirely automates manual calibrations and enables diagnostic troubleshooting wizards. The press also features a new Universal Finishing Interface for automated end-to-end workflow.

HP (Booths 1200, 5416, 5417, 5418) is also demonstrating a future feature for the press, real-time early-defect-detection technology that identifies and notifies the operator of print defects.

On the traditional offset side, manroland (Booth 858) is showcasing autoprint smart, which uses a one-touch intelligent control system to increase production efficiency through automated and predefined worksteps. Not only does the intelligent interplay of different technologies reduce makeready, but autoprint’s self-learning controls significantly speed job changeover up to the first press OK.

Depending on the job structure, manroland claims productivity increases up to 15% at the same printing speed, with waste sheets reduced by around 30%. autoprint smart also safeguards print quality over the production run by better planning job sequences and exact reproduction of repeat jobs.

Showgoers can learn about the KBA Rapida 106, the “makeready champion,” at KBA’s lounge (Booth 1255). The press’ wide array of automation includes the KBA DriveTronic dedicated drives and simultaneous plate mounting system and the DriveTronic feeder with presetting.


Retrofits galore

If you cannot afford new production equipment, automation is still well within reach. Many vendors are helping printers apply new technology to older equipment and software systems, including shop floor controls, MIS systems, and other controls.

A great example is Muller Martini (Booth 637), whose ASIR3 (Automatic Signature Image Recognition Version 3) can now be integrated onto all of its legacy equipment. This increases the ability of small- and mid-sized printers, even with finishing equipment more than a decade old, to compete against larger players.

Muller Martini has also made much of its automated finishing equipment scalable. The full Sigma line offers everything from signature folding down to trimming, and new, expanded scalability allows printers to purchase individual pieces then add to the line as their business grows.

Automation is a key component of Muller Martini’s Orbit trimmer. “A typical set-up on a trimmer might be 40 minutes,” says Anthony Quaranta of the Q Group, a sales consulting firm representing Muller Martini. “If you are really good, 25 minutes. The Orbit is three minutes.”

Standard Finishing’s (Booths 1244, 1644) has named its exhibit “Intelligent Automation” to emphasize its commitment to using advanced automation and touchscreen control for short-run finishing. Making its debut at this year’s show is the Standard Horizon CABS 6000 perfect binding system. The system, which includes the MG-600 gatherer, SB-17 17-clamp perfect binder, and HT-110 three-knife trimmer, delivers end-to-end automated setup in ten minutes or less, and the ability to memorize 200 jobs for instant recall.

For automation on smaller format digital equipment, check out Standard Hunkeler’s diverse range of roll-fed solutions, including unwinders, rewinders, cutters and double-cutters for the continuous-feed digital print market. Designed to work with high-speed digital printers at speeds up to 720 fpm, a variety of Hunkeler machines are at the booths of industry-leading printer vendors such as HP, InfoPrint Solutions (Booth 2017), Kodak (Booth 1227), Océ (Booth 1217), Screen (1637), and Xerox (Booths 400, 600).


Beyond the plant

True automation also encompasses end-to-end workflow with JDF and “the document factory,” including workflow automation through web-to-print. Expect to see a lot of enhancements to campaign management on the floor, as well.

For example, EFI (Booth 2000) is displaying its MicroPress, a high-performance document production system that streamlines prepress work, automates manual processes, and optimizes engine speed to efficiently produce color and black-and-white documents. MicroPress supports the latest industry standard file formats, with the power to natively process PostScript, PDF and XPS, resulting in faster, more accurate output.

For printers seeking to streamline their business processes, Prism (Booth 4018) is promoting its Prism WIN 2010 management information system, which gives printers flexibility, configurability, and integrated modules to manage the diverse requirements of print, manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution.

Automating prepress production is possible with Dalim Software’s (Booth 227) ES 2, which combines tasks such as color accurate softproofing with the business logic of project planning, with milestones and sophisticated approval processes. With access rights, all users are involved at the appropriate stages of the production cycle, including review and approval of corrections and revisions. The process is fully automated, yet customizable for specific needs.

interlinkONE (Booth 969)has made numerous advancements to its iLink Version 8, which allows printers to create customizable web portals to order static literature items, multi-channel marketing campaigns, and create automated follow-ups for inquiries to lead generation or survey forms.

Automation is extending beyond workflow, and can include integration with new mobile-friendly products.

For example, EFI (Booth 2000) is among those that have launched a Mobile Client for Apple mobile devices. EFI Mobile Client lets users view and control EFI Pace and Monarch workflow software as well as control and monitor all EFI-XF-driven printers and software for production and proofing via the iPhone, iPad or iPod. With access to EFI Fiery XF and Colorproof XF RIPs users can view, preview, proof, print and delete jobs from their mobile devices.

As you explore the show, keep in mind that “automation” has many faces, and can include the latest innovations, simple retrofits, while impacting every phase of print production.