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Manufacturers and equipment vendors are becoming "providers of results"

Interestingly enough, equipment manufacturers, in this case press and finishing equipment manufacturers in the case of the graphic industries, have adapted to digital transformation, regardless of the business sector and the type of product to be reproduced. "Digital is everywhere: from multi-channel publishing to print-on-demand, personalisation, online services, the development of new markets in signage, decoration, etc.," says Claus Bolza-Schünemann, chairman of the Drupa organising committee.

These manufacturers and equipment vendors understand that their customers now expect a "result", an "experience", provided by digital services associated with physical products, not just hardware.

Through Industry 4.0, press manufacturers and other equipment manufacturers are and will be more involved in the value chain 4.0 of companies in the graphic industries. With the growing importance of machines equipped with sensors and algorithms in the graphic chain, these manufacturers are retrieving a massive amount of data (operating data, production schedules, machine status monitoring, historical data), thus in addition to offering hardware solutions and introducing cyber-physical systems, they will be offering more remote monitoring, support, proactive measures and predictive maintenance services, anticipating new causes of potential failures and thus increasing the productivity level of their printers' machines. Based on data collected daily, they will be able to analyse and graphically display data such as press throughput, maximum and average print speeds, operational availability, job size, run time, wash-up and job changeover times, and communicate existing optimisation potential to contribute to their continuous improvement.

Some suppliers, such as KBA, send printing plants equipped with their presses a Performance Report, which gives a graphical representation of performance such as total production volume, average and peak speeds, print runs and time spent on printing, cleaning and job changes. Tomorrow, a mutual (anonymous) comparison of equipment performance between different printing plants will be possible.

These suppliers are expected on other topics: the integrated safety of production lines, the energy efficiency of their equipment, augmented reality offering operators a simple and convenient way to obtain real-time information, in particular by giving them hands-free web access to repair manuals or to their support centres.

Many suppliers, including manufacturers such as Heidelberg, which used to specialise in offset printing, now insist on the need to go beyond the press for a total solution. These equipment manufacturers then do not hesitate to collaborate to offer co-developed solutions. For example, Konica Minolta joined forces with supplier Tharstern and Web2Print providers Vpress for an automated workflow demonstration, showing how print jobs can be easily tracked and managed. Another is the partnership between Komori and KODAK to automate communication between Komori's KP-Connect front end and KODAK PRINERGY workflow software.

A plethora of new or updated software offerings from EFI, Esko, HP, Ricoh, Fujifilm, Heidelberg, Konica Minolta, Screen, Hybrid Software, etc. are then offered to automate the workflow of printers from online order taking to invoicing and imposition.

Alongside these manufacturers and vendors, other players are expected such as software vendors, platform operators, network operators, data collectors / analysts, or PCS integrators.