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Need To Know

Printing 4.0

Many businesses will cite the internet as one of the key tools for success. Rob Fletcher looks at how this is helping to drive growth in the print industry and allowing companies to be more flexible

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The new Roland DG Mobile Panel allows users to monitor performance, run test prints, cleaning routines, and see status updates on Roland DG kit

The internet of things

Casting my mind back to year five at school, I will never forget the first time that I heard a computer connecting to the internet. The now-infamous moans and groans of the machine as it struggled to connect to the internet are one of my clearest memories from key stage two I.T.

Fast-forward 17 years or so and it is hard to imagine a world without the web. As we all know, this technology now forms a key part of any modern business, with an online presence almost a necessity if you are to be successful in competitive markets in and outside of the print industry.

But focusing in on print, the internet has helped in many ways. Not only has it enabled print businesses to have a real presence online, but in terms of kit and how we go about production, the internet has played a role in development.

Solving problems
 
One major manufacturer that speaks openly about how it has been able to use the internet to offer interconnectivity across its products is Koenig and Bauer (KBA).

Craig Bretherton, product and marketing manager at KBA UK, says: “KBA has used interconnectivity for many years, starting with the CIP 3 links to bring the ink profiles from pre-press. Later developments in colour control allowed true ‘closed loop colour control’, which, in turn, developed into the full CIP4 connectivity of our Logo Tronic where the press communicates via JDF and JMF with pre-press equipment, the press, and MIS system, and even other items of equipment. The status of the machine can also be tracked within KBA and this is used to support our customers from both a performance and service point of view.”

As to what benefits this offers to the user, Bretherton says customers can expect their machine to run more efficiently, as interconnectivity features help reduce the potential for errors made by operators.

“Utilising technologies such as closed loop colour and an inline colour control system, printers can expect to use 60 percent less waste on every makeready and makeready times have dropped to a handful of minutes from 20-plus minutes only a matter of years ago,” Bretherton says, adding: “The ability to get real-time production status from the press also allows highly accurate scheduling of work throughout the factory.

“KBA is able to assess the data from the press and offer advice on performance via benchmarking and monitor and service the presses from a proactive service point of view.

O Factoid: Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, famously appeared in the opening ceremony for the London 2012 summer Olympic Games. O


“For many years, we have led the way with our remote service offering. Our customers are reassured that if they run into a problem they only need to contact our hotline and we can access the machine directly from our headquarters in Dresden. Around 80 percent of press faults are resolved this way.”

Looking at new and future developments, Bretherton says KBA is “excited” by its Rapida Live App. Launched at Drupa, the app was demonstrated by an audience member starting the machine from a phone at each demonstration in order to show how the press was connected to the device by NFC tags.


KBA launched its Rapida Live App at Drupa, with an audience member starting a press from a phone at each demonstration to show how the machine was connected to the device by NFC tags



KBA has now built on this, as Bretherton explains: “This has now developed to be responsible for job tracking, production status, consumables stock management via QR codes, and as it is hosted on mobile devices it allows the operator to go to the print units or anywhere on the press with a handheld device giving them instructions on subjects such as roller setting and press maintenance. We are only scratching the surface of what this technology can do for print companies and developments are still ongoing.”

A necessity, not an add-on Another leading manufacturer championing interconnectivity is Manroland Sheetfed, which first introduced its networked presses in 1990 with the PECOM system. Stewart Kerr, UK technical services manager, cites several reasons why this is important in modern print kit.


KBA says that featuring interconnectivity across its products allows both its customers and the manufacturer to track the machine



Kerr says: “Today, flexibility, speed of makeready, working to colour standards, and capturing performance data are all pre-requisites for print companies wanting to stay ahead in the market. Coupled to the fact that printed work may be being produced across multiple presses, sites, and countries, all of whom have to produce identical work to an agreed standard, interconnectivity is today a necessity rather than a nice add-on.

“Most companies today use some form of management information system to aid them in their business, once you link this into the pre-press, press, and post press systems then you have the ability to completely set-up the equipment automatically, vastly reducing makeready times. This is only possible with networked equipment.

“In addition to this we have the ability to pass press activity and performance data back to the MIS in real time during production for monitoring and analysis (OEE). This data is automatic and eliminates the ‘human error’ factor in shop floor data collection as well as freeing the printer up to do his job rather than manually keying in data.”

Focusing in on specific Manroland Sheetfed options, Kerr picks up on a number of key solutions, including the Colour Pilot Process Monitor, where if a customer is printing to the ISO12647-2 colour standard, interconnectivity then allows the press to be automatically set-up with the appropriate standards, control the job during the run, and pass the measuring data back to the server to produce running reports and check standards are maintained.

In addition, users are able to export Colour Pilot measuring data to third-party applications.


The Manroland Maintenance Manager takes real-time data from the press to ensure all required maintenance tasks are flagged at the appropriate time



Elsewhere, the Manroland Print Net system allows jobs to be prepared, organised and, if required, moved to a different press—at the same site or in another factory—by exporting to a file and loading on to another compatible press via the network. Meanwhile, the Manroland Maintenance Manager system can take real-time data from the press to ensure all required maintenance tasks are flagged up at the appropriate time, ensuring the press is kept fully maintained.

In addition, with the Manroland Telepresence system, remote diagnostic systems built into the press can enable remote support to customers to reduce press downtimes. This is done by providing an instant solution to a particular problem or by aiding in the diagnosis of the problem to ensure the correct technician is sent to the customer along with the correct parts if required. Meanwhile, the Manroland Maintenance Manager system can take real-time data from the press to ensure all required maintenance tasks are flagged up at the appropriate time, ensuring the press is kept fully maintained.


Manroland’s Colour Pilot Process Monitor helps customers to ensure ISO12647-2 colour standards are being maintained on a job



In terms of new developments, Kerr cites two options in particular—Print Net and Colour Pilot both have updates due for release soon. The Print Net update includes improved organisational tools for the production list, as well as upgraded screen layouts, the ability to import CXF files, and enhanced master data functions for managing colour standards, among other features.

With the new Colour Pilot Smart system, Manroland has introduced a more cost-effective upgrade for smaller customers and for retrofitting to older presses. In addition, users will be able to export Colour Pilot measuring data to third-party applications.

Constant access

Also weighing in with his expert knowledge is Roland DG’s Rob Goleniowski, head of sales, UK and Ireland, who explains technology such as the True Vis series boasts features that “make the production process easier for print companies”.


Roland DG’s VG-640 is one of many machines from the company that is compatible with the Roland DG Mobile Panel



Goleniowski expands: “Static IP addresses mean you can easily add devices like those in the True Vis series to your network, giving staff across the site the ability to access the functions of each machine remotely. As our systems are also developed for unattended printing, even overnight, it’s important to have that remote access to the whole network.”

As our systems are also developed for unattended printing, even overnight, it’s important to have that remote access to the whole network


Building on this, Goleniowski talks about the new Roland DG Mobile Panel, which is compatible with an iOS or Android smartphone and devices, and allows users to perform functions, run test prints, cleaning routines, and see status updates.

Goleniowski adds: “This means you can spot and sort any issues quickly without having to actually access the printer’s built-in control panel. This cuts downtime and keeps the machines better maintained, giving you better ROI from the outset.

“The remote monitoring provided by Roland On Support gives you eyes on the printer when you are not there, so you don’t have to worry during periods of unattended printing, such as overnight. Basically, print for longer and reduce turnaround times, giving the result of improved production efficiency and confidence so you can get on with other things, and be in two places at once.

“Roland is always developing new and updated systems, and interconnectivity will be integral going forward. Our most recent release, the Versa UV S-Series, is internet-ready to ensure each system can receive online updates and more. It all makes life easier for Roland DG users, boosting productivity in a variety of production environments.”

Although the internet was cited as one of the main reasons for a downturn in print not so long ago, there is no doubt that this same technology has been a major driving force behind the development of new technologies that have helped print-service-providers gain an advantage in a competitive market.

It appears the main message that manufacturers are trying to get across here is that interconnectivity makes life a lot easier when it comes to managing the print production process. Whether it be filing and sending regular reports to monitor the kit, or controlling it via an app, The Internet of Things, in this case Printing 4.0,  is allowing companies to be a lot more flexible with production.


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