WOA 50th ANNIVERSARY -- Web's Balancing Act
According to Field, a central part of Continental Web's investment strategy will be implementation of digital technologies that enhance the link between its IT department and the prep, press and customer service areas. As a result, he anticipates having job information available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the Internet.
Workflow advances will also enable prepress to receive files faster and process them quickly with very little human intervention.
"The entire process will be driven from a central location with everyone seeing and communicating the same information in real time," Field predicts.
Lehigh's Frick believes an aggressive investment approach has always been required to stay competitive.
"To support a compelling value proposition, you must stay current with technology," he explains. "That doesn't mean being on the bleeding edge, but you do need to stay on the leading edge of technology. In our case, that means investing in advanced imaging systems for producing highly personalized products, adding sophisticated on-press controls and staying current with our IT systems. It also involves the timely exiting of legacy systems."
Looking beyond the walls of his own company to the web offset printing industry in general, Stillo expects printed materials to become customized to consumers' needs. Advertisers will reach out directly to the individual consumer, he says. "Within five years, our industry needs to be prepared for this type of targeted delivery."
Field sees the industry becoming more efficient at producing shorter runs, due to advances like the Sunday press' quick plate and blanket changing along with faster running speeds.
"Years ago, web operations needed long runs to compete," he explains. "In the future, we will see even better and faster time-saving advances that will drive costs from the process and help make our industry flexible and viable in the future. People love color and beauty. Printing, as a medium, will continue to deliver that combination."