Paper Cutters — Honing a Competitive Edge
The company is addressing the flexibility issue by offering material handling solutions, such as its System 6 product, he continues. The system pulls lifts in from the back of the machine and provides a buffer for the lifts so a priority job can be slid in by bypassing the buffer.
Success Isn't Automatic
Among those offering a more reserved assessment of CIP4's potential is Jeff Marr, vice president of sales at Colter & Peterson, Paterson, NJ. "CIP4 is nice in theory, but we are not seeing it put into practice," he reveals. "The standard still needs to be finalized."
While it may be practical for manufacturers that provide prepress, press and postpress solutions to implement the technology, "if you break that loop, it doesn't work," Marr says. He adds that Colter & Peterson has the pieces in place to implement the workflow on its cutters, but it is still waiting for development of the standard and customer demand to reach the point where its implementation is warranted.
Marr says that he has yet to be convinced customer demand will materialize. "You may be able to download the job dimensions, but you still need someone to figure out the sequence of cuts," he explains. "When you add ink and water, heat and pressure to paper it changes sizes. Even if the job specs are communicated properly, you still have to make adjustments at the cutter.
"There also could be operator resistance. I've been in shops where the first- and second-shift operators will cut the same job two different ways. The end result is the same, but the sequence of the steps followed is different," Marr says.
CIP4/JDF still is being refined and isn't an exact standard that manufacturers can generically implement, agrees Bret Stow, marketing director at Perfecta-USA in Indianapolis. Stow says he's starting to see a trend in which buyers want cutters that are CIP4 capable, but the shops are just positioning themselves to implement the technology in the next couple years—not now. Perfecta already has the necessary ports and basic software in place on its cutters, he notes.