Future Vision: Embrace Change and Technology

D.J. Burgess, currently leading his second year term as chairman of the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) and NPES—The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies, is excited about the future of graphic communications and this year’s “Embrace Technology” themed GRAPH EXPO.

Burgess also is President/CEO of Burgess Industries, Inc., a worldwide print and graphics communications industry market leader that provides innovative hardware and software automation management and handling technology. Digital CtP [computer-to-plate] imaging and high-speed sheetfed and web press technology inspired Burgess to pioneer patented and award-winning plate management and handling automation for "lights-out," fully integrated manufacturing. For more than three decades, he has guided his company through multiple markets impacted by the analog-to-digital technology and communication revolution.


How has technology shaped and changed the way your company has done business?

D.J. Burgess: Technological change is inspirational; it creates endless opportunities for growth and for application advancement to lights-out, fully integrated manufacturing. Embracing change was the driving force behind Burgess’ innovation and success through process automation.

The lights-out Valpak Manufacturing Center in Florida is an industry-leading example. While the Burgess system conveys plates from four Kodak Magnus VLF Quantum platesetters to the plant’s two Goss Sunday M4000 presses with auto-plate transfer, it also maintains quality control over the entire platemaking workflow, validating delivery and location of every critical step in the process, while also managing the on-demand output of the plates by monitoring their consumption during printing. With job changeovers occurring every 10,000 impressions, this means staying ahead of a requirement for changing up to eight plates every six minutes.

At this relentless pace of consumption, Burgess’ workflow automation technology directs the four CtP devices to produce new sets of plates ‘on-command’ whenever the presses consume them, and then reports back to the Goss Press Center that the new set of press-ready plates are imaged and delivered to the “smart” plate pods—intelligent storage and delivery units, located five steps away from the 32 press cylinders they serve, ready to run on press.

Burgess’ operator-free, fully automated plate management and handling automation technology integrates prepress and press into one efficient system, and the plate-to-press process into an exercise in fulfillment-driven supply and demand—the key to achieving Valpak’s goal of nonstop production in the pressroom, on the collation line, right through to delivery.

Our company has achieved tremendous technological strides since my father started Burgess Industries in 1977, manufacturing his patented Microfilm imaging device, which enhanced image register while eliminating the need for vacuum contact during imaging.

Eventually, digital storage replaced film—much like the filmless CtP revolution in printing. But as you can see, it has always been about his philosophy of embracing change. From creating technology for automating a process, to helping customers work smarter and faster—and managing content—that has never changed.


What have the past two years been like at the helm of GASC and NPES, leading its 400-plus member companies on the path toward the future?

D.J. Burgess: Challenging ... exciting ... and truly an honor. I have been privileged to serve these two outstanding organizations, and the industry, during these times of unprecedented change. I’ve had mixed emotions during this economically historic time in the print communications business. It’s tough to watch the struggles and challenges that have ensued—and the companies that have been hit hard.

On the other hand, I’ve led with an encouraging spirit because of: 1) my belief in the importance of separating today’s global economic conditions from the always-changing dynamics of our industry, and 2) the promise of an exciting new future just over the horizon for us all. We must not only embrace change and technology, but accept the responsibility for leading our industry through it. While technological change is inevitable, it will continuously create new opportunities for growth and advancement.

And, as printing evolves with new and better technology, augmented in its reach by higher forms of interactive communication, there’s tremendous opportunity for our member companies, and their customers, to better compete globally by responding with new solutions for integrated multimedia manufacturing, higher levels of automation and content management, and creative fulfillment services.


What is your advice to firms looking to implement and embrace new technologies?

D.J. Burgess: First, separate the economic conditions and uncertainty from your show strategy and long-term plans. Things will get better! This year’s show is a tremendous opportunity for us all to walk the floor and imagine our path to the future. With more than 475 exhibitors, the features and benefits of today’s innovations and emerging technologies are right before your eyes, with demonstrations of proven and real ROI—process integration, software, workflow solutions, automation, and digital technologies.

I advise show-goers to not only focus on their immediate needs, but also to step back and see the path of evolution...in some cases of what future technology and lights-out, fully integrated manufacturing will look like. A few years back, the integration of digital and offset presses was the buzz, and people came to see "what-if" they could do. Now, there are successful installations and you can meet peer printers face-to-face and talk to them about what they’re doing with the technology, and how they’re applying it; more importantly, how they are evolving into a multimedia lights-out manufacturing business.

This is one of the primary reasons why all businesses in our industry need trade shows like GRAPH EXPO to stay connected during times of great change.


Looking into your crystal ball, what do you see in the upcoming months?

D.J. Burgess: I see choices with tremendous opportunity! The printing industry has led the world in pioneering, cutting-edge technology for people and businesses to communicate their messages via touch and feel that, in turn, inspires progress and change for the better.

To continue fueling this positive momentum, each of us must carefully distinguish the cyclical business cycles from the ever-present and dynamic changes in the world. We must unify as an industry, envisioning print as an "evergreen" media that will continue to integrate, albeit in different ways, with new digital/communication technological platforms—such as mobile smartphones and e-readers—that will continue to drive our customers’ success.

I see the Internet playing an ever-expanding role with newer technology, such as social media, fitting into the mix of game-changing communication and content delivery tools.

We must embrace the reality that nothing—not the global economy, the government, or unforeseen disruptions to our business cycle—is an excuse for not moving our industry and businesses to higher levels of profitability and growth. What will it take? The keys to survival and success are (as they have always been): sheer guts, brains, courage, strategic planning, and well executed tactics with new marketing savvy.

GASC and NPES remain committed to embracing change, having made tremendous strides forward in an aggressive strategic planning process that envisions what lies ahead for our industry five to seven years out.

Earlier this year, GASC also held the authoritative and successful Vision 3 Summit, where business leaders learned how to navigate through our industry’s current challenges and gained new insights and know-how to leverage future trends and opportunities for success.

And GRAPH EXPO and PRINT continue to lead the way with awe-inspiring spirit, each year, by astounding, amazing, educating, and demonstrating to us all the truly exciting future that lies ahead for our industry.