WEB OFFSET REPORT -- Make Ready for Change
The XML-based specification, which is on its way to becoming a standard, provides for bi-directional communication of data between printing systems.
"Basically, it enables an entire press setup to be done automatically," Prince says. The degree of potential makeready savings will provide greater incentive to implement JDF for web offset operations than, say, in the bindery, he adds. "JDF will drive down setup times, plus eliminate mistakes."
The challenges involved also are greater due to the number of control systems and peripherals incorporated into a state-of-the-art web offset press. In theory, each component should be JDF-enabled in order to capitalize on the full potential of the technology. This means implementations from a number of manufacturers will have to work together seamlessly.
In the near term, the most significant developments in web offset technology will be incremental and related to system automation and integration, contends Heidelberg's Clement. "The goal is to link prepress, press, postpress and also business management functions to realize the full potential of an integrated, digital workflow (otherwise known as computer-integrated manufacturing and the Smart Factory)."
The product manager expects to see improvements in currently available systems, along with automation of additional steps in the web offset printing process. "Automation provides exponential benefits," he notes. "The automated functions are completed faster and more accurately, while operators have more time to focus on completing manual functions faster and more accurately.
"Web printers are in an intensely competitive business environment. These areas of development hold the most immediate promise in terms of increasing productivity and efficiency," Clement concludes.
Komori is looking to sheetfed presses as the model for web production, reports Terry Bradley, technical director for Komori America in Rolling Meadows, IL. For example, the company is addressing the long-grain, eight-page web market as an extension of its sheetfed product line.