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Print 4.0 involves a Closer Integration

With Industry 4.0, value chains of smart print shop 4.0 will be interconnected, and will involve horizontal integration through a network of sensors. This integration will aim at optimising the value chain of these companies in printing and product manufacturing, by connecting all or part of the graphic chain, beyond the perimeter of the printing company (high-tech partners, suppliers, subcontractors, customers...). The printing house of the future will thus be designed to function as a network allowing the development, integration and manufacture of complex products.

Figure 1 – Integrated Intelligence

Source: From Industrie 4.0 – durchgängig vom Sensor bis zum ERP-System, ein neuer Ansatz, Vortrag Clusterforum (2013).

Thus, the printing plant of tomorrow, interconnected to one or more ecosystems, will carry out everything from A to Z, without human intervention, in interaction between printed products and presses, finishing machines, and machines between them. The graphic chain of the future will become an interconnected global system.

In comparison, Industry 3.0 has been the phase of the vertical integration, with the first JDF workflow implementations based on two standardised data formats: Job Definition Format (JDF) and Job Messaging Format (JMF). The goal of this integration has been to automate process steps through the integration of different systems and applications.

The main objective of these JDF/JMF environments was to generate for the printers the collection of production data from their company in a fully automated way.

However, in the world 3.0, presses and other automated devices do not yet communicate perfectly with each other, JDF/JMF implementations are not globally represented in the production process, at least for the time being. In the world 4.0, machines will “talk” to each other, making it easy to reconfigure the production process according to customer demand. In the new graphics chain, every device and peripheral will be able to exchange data at different levels.

As predicted by Michael Porter (2001), production decisions in this new ecosystem will automatically take into account the available capacity of multiple facilities and the inventory available to multiple suppliers. This is not like Enterprise 1.0 or 2.0 to optimise sourcing, production, logistics, and maintenance operations, but also for smart print shop 4.0 to optimise and customise the design of the printed product itself based on feedback not only from plants and suppliers, but also from customers.

This Industrial Revolution also relies on end-to-end digital integration of the entire production process, thanks to intensive use of digital tools and the integration of MIS systems with production workflow systems.

Such systems will provide customers with greater ease of access and transparency throughout the print supply chain. This will eliminate costs and enhance quality in production methods.

As a result, value creation will be carried out more efficiently and flexibly. Employees, on the other hand, will be relieved and freed from non-value adding tasks. The focus is on increasing productivity, resource efficiency and automation (VDMA, 2016).

Print shops and other fully integrated and networked manufacturing companies will then be able to act intelligently and partially autonomously with little manual intervention.