Printing 4.0: How Automation Changes Workflows in Our Industry

Komori’s and SCREEN GP’s workflow promises to enhance automation in all printing processes and might result in an IoT smart factory.

automation

The digitalization of society and technological achievements are influencing the workplace. What is referred to as “work 4.0” does also affect the printing industry. Komori Corporation and SCREEN Graphic and Precision Solutions (SCREEN GP) are now jumping on the bandwagon by creating a workflow, which might forge ahead with the digital future of printing.

4.0 – A Figure With a Meaning

A look at the concept of “work 4.0” reveals that this often-used buzzword has meanwhile overcome its status of a mere idea but is changing the world of work at high-speed. Does that account for the printing industry already? We will get to this question later and first take a closer look at the meaning of “work 4.0”. So, what is the main idea? First, highly automatized and integrated production and logistics processes. Second, the merge of virtual and real work processes through the Internet of Things (IoT). Third, as a result, highly efficient and flexible solutions for complex customer wishes.

Certainly, with the points above clarified, “work 4.0” has also reached the printing industry where integration and automation efforts are constantly evolving – especially with regard to the integration of several different printing options and the automation printing process as a whole. The joint force of Komori and SCREEN GP provides a recent example.

Joint Force for Tomorrow’s Workflow

Komori’s and SCREEN GP’s newly developed workflow responds to all pain points mentioned above: It promises to significantly enhance automation in all processes from prepress to printing and postpress while combining offset and digital printing systems. Verification tests are currently performed by printing company Mizukami Insatsu Co., Ltd. Here, the workflow is integrated into a hybrid printing process that includes a PlateRite plate recorder, Lithrone G sheet-fed offset press and Impremia IS29 29 inch sheet-fed UV inkjet digital printing system. These systems will also be linked to postpress devices via JDF, creating a workflow that supports comprehensive integrated control of all processes.

The secret ingredients behind the new workflow? Komori and SCREEN GP have combined two powerful tools: Komori’s KP-Connect Pro and SCREEN GP’s universal workflow platform EQUIOS 5.0. While the printing task control software is positioned between the management information system and production site – collecting and sharing latest production details, hence enabling sophisticated real-time control of all production devices – EQUIOS ensures outstanding printing products. In short, EQUIOS functions as a control center for the prepress and printing process, hence is able to create an environment in which any printing system can produce outstanding quality, performance and stability.

“I firmly believe the next-generation integrated workflow solution formed by EQUIOS and KP-Connect Pro will help to significantly improve the optimization and performance of prepress and press operations, and in fact the entire printing process”, says Eiji Kajita, Director and Operating Officer and General Manager, Corporate Planning Office, Komori Corporation.

On the Way to an IoT Smart Factory?

Both Komori and SCREEN GP do not see their collaborative work at an end yet. “I am […] confident this and future technical collaborations between Komori and SCREEN GP will become a major source of innovation for the whole printing industry”, comments Tsuneo Baba, President of SCREEN Graphic and Precision Solutions Co., Ltd. Will it result in an IoT smart factory? At least this is the vision of Katsuya Kawai, President of Mizukami Insatsu Co., Ltd.: “One of the prime goals we are promoting is the creation of a design for a smart factory by 2025. All devices, peripherals and processes will be connected using IoT concepts, enabling dramatically improved transparency of real-time operations. A single operator will control multiple systems, part-time employees, AI and robotics. Our vision is to create a smart factory that uses next-generation printing logistics to achieve a truly new dimension of productivity.”

Have you made any experiences with IoT in the printing industry? Leave us a comment next to this blog article.