Today’s Hybrid-Printed Products Demand a New Production Paradigm
The first printing press was invented around 1440, and this milestone is often regarded as the beginning of manufacturing, since the press made production faster and more consistent. But the notion of streamlined processes didn’t emerge until the start of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1770s. Now, nearly a quarter century later, the manufacturing process has reached a new milestone.
Referred to as “Industry 4.0” or the “Internet of Things (IoT),” this new breakthrough has been prompted by technological developments, specifically:
- Rapid increases in the ability to create and store data.
- Enhanced computer power and connectivity.
- Advancements in how humans interact with machines.
Basically, IoT is about connecting any device with an on/off switch to the internet, as well as to each other. The result? A digitized manufacturing process that deciphers data in order to achieve intelligent decision-making.
IoT could not have emerged soon enough, considering the advancements in the graphic arts industry, like inkjet and digital print manufacturing. These developments have resulted in the ability to print both long- and short-runs, books on demand, and personalized content. But these variabilities have also created an intensely complex finishing process.
And that creates a challenge for finishing manufacturers. How can we harness the power of IoT, and provide printers and binderies with leading-edge solutions that feature the systems, machines, and software that accommodate and optimize the opportunities presented by this new variable world?
Muller Martini’s (Booth 625) Finishing 4.0 manufacturing philosophy provides a comprehensive framework for realizing these solutions. It features five principles that are integral to the design and engineering of a finishing manufacturer’s portfolio:
1. Automation. The emergence of barcode readers in 1974 truly legitimized automation, which first appeared in machines in the 1940s. Today, the tremendous increase in variability demands that an even higher level of automation be present within every phase of the printing process.
2. Interconnectivity. Barcodes embedded on the product during prepress imposition provide linkage throughout the entire production line, delivering smart, intuitive interconnectivity between each subsequent action in the process.
3. Variability. In order to successfully compete in a variable world, the efficient finishing of the end product—independent of its thickness, format, trim and run size—must be achieved, as well as content integrity and validation.
4. Touchless workflow. A barcode-enabled touchless workflow facilitates uninterrupted print finishing with little or no manual intervention, thereby reducing labor and waste.
5. Hybrid finishing systems. Both offset and digitally printed products must be finished on the same machine, either separately or concurrently, in order to achieve optimum efficiency and consistent quality. This necessitates designing scalable systems that are engineered to expand their capabilities as a customer’s digital business grows.
Printers and binderies who want to be a part of digital print manufacturing and all the opportunities it affords must embrace forward-thinking solutions that can seamlessly adapt to variability when processing offset, digital, and hybrid printed products. Muller Martini’s Finishing 4.0 design philosophy does such, achieving highly efficient, end-to-end workflows that result in reduced makeready and manpower, less waste, and faster speed to market.