Thursday, 06 May 2021 14:08

Printshop Workflow – Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 to represent the fourth revolution that has occurred in manufacturing industry, it refers to the transition to an autonomous process using modern technology, machine-to-machine communication and the Internet of Things (IoT), all enhanced by data analysis and machine learning; this revolution is here to stay and it is no longer optional, businesses that transition to it tend to become more profitable and successful in their own segment when compared to a non-automated industry.

Automating your print production process offers several benefits, including the opportunity to improve the company’s financial health, optimizing production task execution times, thus helping increase efficiency, and improving production output. A key benefit of automation is that it breaks bottlenecks, meaning it helps reduce or eliminate the inefficiencies and limitations of manufacturing that affect productivity and a mayor cause of reduced profits.

A standard printer workflow consists of several steps and in most cases, a little proportion or none of it is automated.

Key Strategies and Tactics for Leveraging Automation

According to HP’s "Strategies for Leveraging Automation to Enhance Performance", here are some of the key findings:

  • Even a modest degree of automation goes a long way in improving production speed and productivity.
  • Respondents reporting higher levels of automation are more likely to invest in software than respondents reporting less automation.
  • Survey participants with highly automated workflows report producing more jobs per day than respondents with less automation. High throughput links directly to profitability because it minimizes non-chargeable plant time.
  • Respondents reporting higher levels of automation accepted more jobs from customers via online submission portals compared to those reporting less automation. Online print job submission is an essential step in workflow automation.
  • The factors seen as most potentially problematic with regard to bottlenecks was relying on expensive labor or high-touch processes. Given that reducing labor expense and eliminating needless touches are exactly what workflow automation is meant to accomplish, this finding alone underscores the wisdom of adding more automation wherever the need for it exists.
  • Overall, respondents report that producing and managing a high number of small jobs was unlikely to create bottlenecks. This indicates that the industry is learning how to cope with the decline of long print runs and the rise of on-demand production in small quantities.
  • Workflow

    It’s important to remember that the printing industry version of Industry 4.0, doesn’t mean to remove humans from the equation, it means that machines do the work that machines do better than humans do, and humans do the work that machines can’t do.

    Many of today’s workflow solutions handle the creation and distribution of documents through a variety of new channels, including mobile and internet based; we are seeing some of these solutions offering the ability to manage, proof and produce 3D products. Solutions are also being refined to address the specific needs of market verticals, such as manufacturing, retail and many other.

    Automated workflows present tremendous opportunities, but they aren’t “set it and forget it.” They require ongoing attention, investment and focus if they are to continue to produce results.

    The best practice is to adopt workflow method and solution that helps automate processes, while focusing on efficiency, decreasing the operational costs while still increasing throughput and depending less on human intervention, in order to have employees invest time in more productive tasks.

    Investments in Automation

    Holding back investment in automation means holding back growth potential, a mistake that no printing business can afford to make in an environment where growth and profit increasingly belong to the most efficient producers.

    The main takeaway from the Industry 4.0 is that it works, and for the most part, the printer industry know it works. The awareness of the added value is irrefutable. What’s needed is wider adoption so printing businesses can take full advantage of all the benefits workflow automation offers them.

    Published in Automation

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