R&E Council Conference Surveys New Technologies

CHICAGO—A Tower of Babel. That is how speakers at the recent R&E Council Integrated Print Manufacturing conference here characterized the printing industry.

The meeting brought together technology executives and top management from across the printing industry to discuss how the various software and hardware protocols now used could be melded into one common language for the benefit of all.

The Integrated Print Manufacturing concept—known variously as the digital smart factory or Digital Networked Production Systems (DNPS)—is an initiative of the R&E Council and is broader in concept than the popular CIP3 protocol, which encompasses only machine operation.

Integrated Print Manufacturing also embraces image information, paper data, e-commerce and business management information.

The meeting was keynoted by Dennis L. Farrell, senior consultant and operations manager for Saturn, the innovative GM automotive subsidiary.

According to Farrell, “Only through the complete integration of people and systems has the Saturn concept been achieved. Approached properly,” he says, “change will produce a better product.”

Both large and small web and sheetfed printers participated in the conference. Grant Miller, vice president of technology for R.R. Donnelley & Sons, noted: “A digital smart factory architecture must permit printers to develop an integrated manufacturing plan, including administrative systems, human resources, data warehousing, financial and transaction systems, sales and customer service, scheduling, fulfillment, invoicing and a manufac- turing execution system.”

Suppliers to the printing industry noted that a “more common effort” was required for digital integration, rather than each supplier developing digital protocols that served their interests without considering the overall effect on the industry.

Uri Arieli, president of AHP Systems, told the group, “Many printers put their trust in automatic equipment or digital processes, hoping for increased profitability and competitiveness, but are disappointed. Technical solutions need to be accompanied by an underlying change in philosophy,” contends Arieli.

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