Automation Tops R&E/GCA Conference

WHITE STONE, VA—Top technologists and strategic planners from leading printing, premedia and publishing companies around the world met in Orlando, FL, recently at the R&E Council/GCA Digital Smart Factory Conference to discuss integrated manufacturing in the printing industry.

The meeting, co-sponsored by the R&E Council and the Graphic Communications Association, was an outgrowth of the 1999 Digital Networked Production Systems conference, staged by the R&E Council to explore the efficiencies possible in automating the print manufacturing process.

The conference was co-chaired by Orlando Boleda, vice president of product development at Hart Graphics, and Stephen Franzino, vice president of technology for Courier Companies.

Keynoters at the meeting were Mark Jones, vice president of technical solutions for Quebecor World, and Paul Beyer, group product manager for professional publishing solutions at Adobe Systems, both of whom noted the diversity of equipment and software in use today. Speakers at the meeting focused on a number of areas that deter broad integration of automation in the printing industry, including the fact that computer technologies in the prepress, pressroom and bindery have developed separately, and digital communication among functions is difficult.

Also discussed at length was the current status of the CIP3 initiative, which was formed in 1995 to address many of industry needs. Finally, the group noted that the printing industry includes a huge base of legacy equipment, much of which includes little or no digital technology.

In the conference wrap-up session, attendees agreed that progress is being made, despite a protracted struggle with integrated manufacturing concepts.

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