Print 4.0, in a nutshell

The impact of the industrial revolutions, especially those of Industry 3.0 and Industry 4.0 on the graphic industries is not limited to e-commerce and printing is not the only link in the value chain impacted in the graphic chain. Digital transforms everything.

The creative process first: all stakeholders are concerned, but also involved in the digital and Industrial Revolution, starting with the consumer, who has the possibility to co-create, order online products, books or other documents to be printed, etc.; brands, principals, publishing houses, etc. to reduce the complexity and costs of their campaigns and communications, to improve the time to market of their products, to seduce their consumers and now to guarantee the traceability of their products.

The production and supply chain process in a broader sense: the third industrial revolution offered presses and other finishing devices the advantages of automation, but left each of these machines, or more globally, each production line, isolated from each other. Industry 4.0 disrupts this pattern by increasing the notion of integration of the entire production process, thanks to an intensive use of digital tools, but above all, and this is undoubtedly what distinguishes it from previous industrial revolutions on the integration of dynamic value creation networks through the integration of physical base and software systems with other industries and economic sectors, as well as with other industries and types of industries.

The rapid progress that has taken place recently, in particular in the area of ​​interconnection of systems and, more recently, the trend towards the Internet of Things (“cyber reality”) is then shaping the smart and agile graphics chain 4.0 of the future. The argument that is developing is that the fusion of current integrated information technologies in the graphics chain serves as a backbone to integrate operators, machines, materials, products, production lines and processes within and beyond the boundaries of the printing industry to form a new type of intelligent, connected and agile graphic value chain.

Print 4.0 can thus be summed up in the case of the graphic industries as a networked production system that will link and share manufacturing resources of small, geographically dispersed companies.

The graphic chain 4.0 of tomorrow will then be more like a network of companies. In this model, these companies are seen individually as nodes in a connected graphics chain, and collectively focused on a continuous proposition of new forms of value to the end customer.

In the graphic industries, Print 4.0 is designed to respond more quickly to the specific needs of the end customer, to the long tail (Anderson, 2004), to personalisation and individualisation, whether in publishing or self-publishing, but also in decoration, textiles, packaging or visual communication... and more specifically to the new industrial strategy of mass personalisation in shortened lead times and at the same cost as mass printing in Industry 2.0.

One of the main characteristics of the graphic chain 4.0 is its ability to print and manufacture a wide variety of products (mass personalisation) in a production environment where the emphasis is on flexibility and speed.

Industry 4.0 no longer focuses only on industry, and Print 4.0 on printing and graphic industries, but encompasses the entire value chain, from product or document design, to service innovations on the Internet and the necessary transformation of the business model. While digital applications and capabilities have an important influence on the cost and quality of business, they are not the only determining factors. Other factors such as staff skills, processes and routines put in place by the company play a key role. The modernisation of the production tool involves new processes, the acquisition of new skills, and new ways of managing production.