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Evolving into Drupa 2012 —Sherburne

September 2008
AT THE recent EFI Connect 2008 users conference in Las Vegas, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion with my esteemed colleagues, Dennis Mason of Mason Consulting and Forrest Leighton of Canon USA.

The primary topic was Drupa 2008 and what we thought were the most important aspects of this “Olympics” of the printing industry. I have written extensively on that topic and won’t repeat any of that here. But one of the questions the moderator asked us to consider was:

If Drupa 2008 was the “ink-jet” Drupa, what will Drupa 2012 be?

This soon after a mega-show like Drupa, it is hard it think about four years down the road and heading back to Düsseldorf for another one. But it was a thought-provoking question, nonetheless. While the three of us had some different perspectives on the question, there was one thing we agreed upon: By 2012, lights-out automation across the printing enterprise will be a key topic of discussion.

For print service providers, it is certainly not too soon to begin considering what this means for your operation. You might ask why this topic is being discussed in a marketing column; a fair question. As I have said in this column before, a key focus of marketing is determining the optimum product portfolio that will enable your company to grow, holding on to a base of loyal customers and gaining new ones.

While Drupa 2012 may not turn out to be the “extreme automation” Drupa, one thing is absolutely clear: We are not going to see a reversal of the demand for shorter runs, faster turnaround times and sophisticated services well beyond putting ink or toner on paper.

With that in mind, printing organizations of all sizes must be focusing on the efficiency of their operations. Without a productive, efficient manufacturing operation, and the administrative and customer-facing infrastructure to back it up, today’s printing operation is not likely to be in any position to fund anyone’s trip to Drupa 2012, let alone positioned for growth.

So what does this mean? Should you run out and buy a bunch of JDF-enabled products, so you can leverage the power of this industry standard to achieve lights-out production? The suppliers would love that, of course. But the answer is no—although anything you buy should be JDF-compliant or the supplier should have crystal-clear plans to get there. But even the equipment manufacturers will tell you that buying a bigger, faster, more efficient press will not, in and of itself, make your organization more efficient.
 

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