Complementary Future of Offset, Digital Printing to Be Seen at Drupa
I would also expect to see many small systems providers showing a range of new software products in the Drupa Innovation Park for enhanced Web-to-print working and multiple media communication.
Imposition Optimization Creates a New Business
One area of Web-to-print that we are now seeing is specialized workflow software to optimize the loading and scheduling of work on the press. In the past few years, particularly in Germany there has been a major rise of Web-to-print where printers are using specialized software to gang multiple jobs on the same press. In this they are mainly using large-format four-color offset presses rather than digital presses for the work.
One company well known for this is Vistaprint, but I feel the best example of what is happening is Flyeralarm. It runs multiple large-format KBA and Heidelberg offset presses, as well as digital presses, with all work being ordered online via its websites and online stores around Europe. Currently, the company processes an average of 10,000 orders per day of which 99 percent are ordered online. One of the keys to such efficiency is the very fast makeready and low manning levels of modern large-format offset presses.
Companies like Flyeralarm have developed their own workflow and job ganging software to create this massive area of business. Today, such software is available from certain software suppliers to allow other printers to enter this high-volume Web-to-print area. Litho Technics has a solution for automatically generating complex imposition plans for ganging multiple jobs together on one sheet.
One user is MPG Books, a leading U.K. book printer. It needed to increase the capacity from 400 to 600 book titles per month and saw gang printing as a solution. The company achieved this while reducing staffing in the planning area as well.