In just a few days, I'm heading to Atlanta - the home of Coca-Cola, UPS, CNN, Dunkin Donuts, Delta Airlines, and an area that attracts companies from our industry such as HP, BOBST, Vanguard, Heidelberg North America, and many more. I plan to visit a few of the above, but the main reason is to attend PRINTING United Expo - and I am excited!
By Editor Morten B. Reitoft
The Atlanta edition is the third PRINTING United Expo, and though the two previous shows in Dallas and Las Vegas were excellent, my expectations for the Atlanta version are higher. More than 800 exhibitors are doing their best to be as attractive as possible, and Social Media is already floating with teasers for what to see.
We have quite a dense program, and I can guarantee a wealth of reports, interviews, and walkthroughs with two filmers on-site. As usual, you won't need to wait days or weeks to see what we see, and the most significant bottleneck we have is essentially the upload speed in the Georgia World Congress Center. Located in the center of Atlanta, I am convinced that the show floors are where the action is during the days. Still, the evenings will be the hotel bars and the restaurants where thousands of people will meet, talk, exchange business cards, and, of course, conclude business.
I already have many appointments, even before the show starts on October 18th. HP hosts their PrintAhead event, where customers and prospects are invited to visit HP in Alpharetta, less than an hour from downtown Atlanta! I have also been invited to the Coca-Cola Museum by Enfocus, and almost best of all is a message from my friend Ray Stasieczko, who said - I arrive Tuesday, and you can find me in the bar at his hotel. Promissing, right? :-)
My team, Ziga, Jack, Henrik, and I, will be busy at the show. Of course, we can't visit 800+ exhibitors, but we will do our best to get to the most exciting exhibitors - and as we all know - it's about equipment.
Yesterday, I chatted with Scott P. Mackie from Fujifilm in Singapore, and he told me that the B2 toner-based press presented at IGAS in Tokyo will be shown. I believe INKISH became the first to tell about it. We have to see it and get a closer look at the samples - of course! I also really would like to see Kyocera as I believe they will show their new TASKALFA Pro 55000 C - an inkjet cut sheet printer that will deliver what its brother, the PRO 15000 C, couldn't, namely inkjet printing on coated stocks.
Maybe Screen will have their new cut sheet Truepress JET S320 on their booth. If yes, we must check it out, and in case they do, see what it offers - and remember, this will be the first cut sheet device from Screen - as far as I know! Under all circumstances, will our friends from Labelhub co-exhibit with Screen and present their smart software - so maybe two lucky strikes, who knows? :-)
We will talk to many people at the show, so let me share who we plan to see. Wednesday, October 18th, on the opening day, RMGT has its Elite User Group Meeting at 8:30, and if we can get in, we will see what this is about. RMGT is always - to me - an interesting 'dark horse,' as the printers are top-rated among its owners, a steady work-horse, cheaper than the competitors, very productive, and with a considerably smaller footprint - and yet, RMGT kind of live their life in the shadows of the competitors.
After the RMGT 8:30 user group meeting, we have our daily Bonjour. The first we expect to have with Mark Subers from PRINTING United Expo, and let's see who our second guest will be. This is a fun format; it's like watching a lifestyle channel, where we drink coffee, talk about expectations of the show, what we have experienced, and everything in a very casual format - we like it, and we hope you like it too :-)
From here, day one is pretty packed. Xerox, Tecnau, SwissQprint, Fujifilm, Kurz, Ultimate TechnoGraphics, and Solimar, and already, on the first evening, we will have fun visiting the official opening party taking place in the Tabernacle in Atlanta. My dear friend Rob Ens has already warned me that there is another party that we also need to attend.
I am sure we will get many exciting stories from each of the above exhibitors - for example, what does Xerox have in plan in the Commercial segment? And are they leaving the professional print space, as some suggest? At Tecnau's booth, we would like to see some equipment running while being explained - and I even believe we will talk to customers and see a Tecnau solution combined with a Stahl folder.
At the SwissQprints booth, we have already planned to talk to the North American CEO, Erik Norman; besides the technology and the high quality the Swiss company is known for - we will dig into how things are developing in North America.
Kurz is known for its fantastic foils, but did you know that they also deliver digital equipment for both commercial and flexible? We will talk to Michael Aumann. He will for sure show us two of their technologies that could be interesting for you, dear reader?
We will see and learn some cool things with our friends from the Ultimate TechnoGraphics booth. Yesterday, we published a film from Fotofabriek in the Netherlands, and we have been eager to share what Ultimate TechnoGraphics has been working on for a long time - but we were under an NDA, which required us to keep all we knew sealed away!
'Scalable' is just an eight-letter word, but the impact is impressive. Most printing companies have peaks; sometimes, you must invest in technology supporting your peak periods. That's expensive and not needed every day. With Ultimate TechnoGraphics Scalable, you can buy additional resources and be flexible. Having a solution that can grow with you is one thing, but what we also learned from Fotofabriek is the savings you get when you eliminate all the workflow solutions you don't need. With Impostrip/Bindery, you can automate your entire workflow - and remember, Ultimate TechnoGraphics is vendor agnostic, so you can eliminate all other workflow subscriptions and get business done with only Impostrip - quite amazing, right?
Let us ask the friendly people from Ultimate how easy or difficult it is to have only one solution: managing everything!
After Ultimate TechnoGraphics, we will go to the RISO booth to see our friends from Solimar. Mary Ann Rowan has already asked several people to come and talk with me - and it was amusing last year. Solimar is one of those software companies that are SO essential. Still, many don't really understand what they do - but let me give at least one example: Together with Solimar, INKISH visited the inplant of The State of Colorado. The state does a lot of work, and essentially, many municipalities were merged into a larger Denver-based operation. Here, the in-plant soon realized that PDF file quality was very different. Solimar delivered, among other software components, ReadyPDF, which enables the in-plant to streamline PDFs to their needs, optimizing RIP time and minimizing idle time - and that essentially frees up time on your printing device so that you can produce more on your equipment. We will try to get stories that explain what Solimar actually does - and from the RISO booth. I hope I get a chance to talk to Maggie Curry from RISO as well - as Solimar is co-exhibiting with them!
The following day is busy, from 7:30. We have registered with FSEA and Xplor Breakfasts. They are next to each other, and we will be listening to the speakers, doing some interviews, and promoting both organizations. The work the federations and organizations do is not always considered significant, but we believe these organizations should have prime time year-round, and now INKISH will deliver!
At 9:00, we have our second Bonjour, and I hope it will be fun - but we need to find some people :-)
At 11:00, we are interviewing people from Infigo. Infigo is a UK-based web-to-print supplier, and in the past years, developed integrations with a wealth of suppliers - and what to expect from Infigo is never 100% certain. We know it will involve a Christmas father - to learn more, tune in to INKISH!
Thursday will also give us time (hopefully) to talk with Ford Bowers from PRINTING United Alliance and Joe Marin, also from PRINTING United Alliance - I always like talking to industry people :-)
The rest of the day, we will find out as we go what is interesting. Among the booths I will see are Kornit and Agfa, but I will also check out some of the smaller and less known booths as you often find super nice innovations -and who knows - maybe these innovations will be the most significant next time?
From 5:00 PM, we will be at AGFA's booth, where we will meet friends we have filmed the past year. We will meet and interview Dan Deveau from CamAd, Toronto, and David Dey from ColorDynamics, Allen. Then I look forward to meeting and talking to Buddy Kramber from The Bernard Group - maybe the world's second most automated company in our industry - we are SO excited!
Friday Morning, we will do our Bonjour near the Müller Martini booth to learn from Andy Fetherman while having breakfast - followed up with interviews :-)
Before we know it, the clock turns 3:00 PM or 15:00, and the show will close. Thousands of people will find their way to the airport, fly home, and in a couple of weeks, PRINTING United will only be a great memory from the past - but enjoy in the meanwhile!