by Cassandra Balentine
Part one of two
The Fourth Industrial Revolution—or Industry 4.0—is happening all around us. According to Gartner, its goal is to combine IT, engineering, production, and logistics to generate a digital convergence of business operations.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, is the next major advancement in manufacturing,” states Douglas Schardt, director of product management, Komori America. He says the first industrial revolution began when steam power commenced in the British textile industry, then it was mass production and electric motors in American industry, followed by the coupling of automation systems and computer-controlled manufacturing in Japan. “The fourth revolution will now integrate the power of computers and electronic communication with and throughout manufacturing.”
Within the print industry, many vendors, from workflow providers to print engine and finishing manufacturers incorporate the latest technologies associated with Industry 4.0 that poise users for the future.
What it Means
Within the print industry, the term Industry 4.0 incorporates different meanings for various businesses and segments—cloud technologies, the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), hyper automation, and augmented reality.
“To Komori, Industry 4.0 means we are no longer limited or constrained by the idea of advancing and connecting automation to just our own product,” says Schardt. “Traditionally, a manufacturer could only really improve and control their own product through innovative design and clever concepts, but it began and ended with the equipment that the manufacturer built. With the advent of the IoT, the power of computers and communication between computers encouraged Komori to expand its thinking beyond its specific product, which opens the playing field to finding new ways to improve everything,” he explains.
For example, as a press manufacturer, Komori was able to remain ahead of market demands with its equipment abilities. “In the 1980s production runs were long, so Komori offered the fastest press on the market to make those long runs more profitable. By the beginning of the 1990s just in time printing was in demand, reducing the run lengths significantly but having more of them. This emphasized quicker makereadies, rather than faster run speeds and again, Komori led the way by introducing the first fully automatic makeready machine in 1990. By 2000, an emphasis was put on presses that had enhanced print quality and print problem reduction along with efficient consumable costs,” he continues. “This was mainly accomplished through machine design and while the list is too long to go through, suffice it to say Komori led the way again with unique inker, dampener, and console features. That brings us to today in which presses are fast, entirely automated, and very efficient in managing operational costs. In that entire encapsulated history, all the changes and improvements were done, exclusively, to the product Komori makes, but then Industry 4.0 emerged and the improvement opportunities immensely expanded,” adds Schardt.
“Printing digitally on HP Indigo presses enables our customers to address the needs of their own customers, which are often short and personalized orders that require quick turnaround times while maintaining an excellent standard of quality. These challenging market demands require printers to be both efficient and flexible, making use of highly automated technologies with minimum manual touches so that they can deliver a wide portfolio of innovative products. The concepts and technologies behind Industry 4.0 are the only way to deliver that, and that’s why it’s so important for us,” says Gershon Alon, head of PrintOS, HP Inc.
John O’Donnell, director of business development, Heidelberg, points out that the ability to digitize information from Heidelberg equipment and software into meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) for its customers to use, empowers them to make educated decisions while operating their business.
Oran Sokol, global head of strategic accounts, HP Inc., says HP Indigo is all about breaking the mould of the conventional printing industry. “We are passionate about personalizing, optimizing, and automating our customer experience, as well as bridging the gap between the electronic and physical space for our eco-systems—our customers’ customers. As such, Industry 4.0 is exactly where we see the print industry going and is completely aligned with our vision and strategy as a company.”
Industry 4.0 extends into finishing as well. “Industry 4.0 is so important to Müller Martini that we have adopted the moniker ‘Finishing 4.0’ to brand many of our solutions that are initiated and enhanced by this automation and interconnectivity philosophy,” shares Andy Fetherman, VP of sales and technology, Müller Martini Corp. As a result, its complete Finishing 4.0 portfolio produces more products per square foot and labor hour,” he adds.
Scott Peterson, product marketing manager, Tecnau, says his company thinks of Industry 4.0 as a means for its finishing customers to gain a more efficient and cost-effective operation as they use technologies under this banner to keep their high-speed digital print production lines up and running as much as possible.
“Industry 4.0 means deriving value from the always online status of our equipment and the ever-increasing numbers of sensors and parts that can “report back,” says Simon Lewis, VP marketing, Highcon.The company initially implies receiving lots of data or events to Highcon’s cloud and providing valuable reporting to customers. However, further down the line this will open deep analysis that will inform valuable recommendations, operational improvements, proactive maintenance before a part fails and much more. “It’s a journey and not all is yet available. But the process is unstoppable.”
When it comes to workflow, Jonathan Malone-McGrew, senior director of engagement, Solimar Systems, says for Solimar Systems, Industry 4.0 picks up on the disruption of Industry 3.0 where computers, software, and connecting to devices and the internet changed the way we do business. “This is an exciting time as world events push production and manufacturing to focus on automation, connecting islands of technology, breaking down silos across the organization, and future-proofing by removing manual tasks. Industry 4.0 in a word is optimization.”
So what does Industry 4.0 actually look like in real-word products and services for the print industry?
IoT is a key Industry 4.0 technology. “IoT means we are no longer limited to improving only our own equipment. We can allow our thinking to extend beyond automating and improving a press only. Now we can automate and improve a workflow that is not only focused on our equipment, but one that flows through the entire production process,” says Schardt. “We can create production transparency of jobs through all the various departments by connecting automation between equipment and between production centers.”
Komori calls this “Connected Automation.” In short, Connected Automation allows the company to pick up where JDF left off and add many other enhancements. “We can now create presses that not only use the power of computing to analyze actions and results, but also harness the power of AI and be proactive rather than reactive in improving processes. Presses can communicate intelligently with other shop equipment and departments, such as prepress and bindery, to streamline the entire manufacturing process. Obviously, for a press manufacturer, Industry 4.0 is very exciting. The integration of Industry 4.0 into our products begins with developing software that works with many aspects of the press, such as job scheduling, production data, reporting and the like,” he continues.
Komori’s software, KP-Connect, accommodate management information software (MIS) as well and is CIP4, meaning it both sends and receives data. It also can work through the Komori Cloud, which allows users to remotely access data on a variety of platforms and/or locations. The data is automatically put in easy-to-understand graphical displays so users can see at a glance the various productivity measures it offers. The Komori Cloud can also directly and automatically notify Komori service if a press is encountering problems that may require manufacturer assistance.
“Most of our equipment and software offerings have some level of data that can be used to drilldown into production and business operation KPIs. At the core of this is Heidelberg Prinect, an end-to-end workflow system that streamlines the entire production process from start finish. Additionally, those with the Heidelberg Assistant cockpit can measure press production KPIs, such as makeready times, waste, and speeds,” says O’Donnell.
HP’s founding concept as a company started from a belief that the print industry, like most other industries, will become digitized. “We also anticipated an increase in demand from consumers for more personalized, impactful, and sustainable experiences. So with that in mind, all of our products are conceptually designed towards utilizing big data, machine learning, and integrated management information systems that can improve our product performance metrics like overall equipment effectiveness,” explains Sokol.
Alon adds that HP Indigo’s presses are IoT devices that are bidirectionally connected to the cloud. Once collected, the data generated by the press is automatically analyzed by the company’s big-data algorithms and it provides reports and status updates back to its users via software such as HP PrintOS. “This data enables HP Indigo customers to have greater control over production and to take data-driven decisions that will ensure optimized productivity. Big data algorithms are also at the heart of our Predictive Press Care service, in which we identify potential technical issues and fix them before they actually happen. In addition, we support data exchange between our digital front end systems that can improve our product performance metrics like overall equipment effectiveness and presses, and our customers’ third party systems like MIS. We have a very rich set of Software Development Kits provided free-of-charge, and additionally HP works with the leading software vendors in the industry on data integrations in order to ensure all systems are constantly in sync.”
Peterson says Tecnau incorporates Industry 4.0 technologies into its latest generation of finishing equipment, such as the new Revolution 50 high-speed cut/stack line, to offer remote equipment monitoring for fast troubleshooting and flagging parts that are approaching the end of expected lifetimes for replacement before they take your production line down, and providing analytics to managers to give them insights into their operations and quickly identify problem areas. “These technologies have been built into some of our products for a number of years now, and we’re expanding use of these across our product line. We’re also working with our service provider partners to allow them to tap into the information stream for more efficient support of Tecnau products.”
Müller Martini has developed an engineering ideology based upon its aforementioned Finishing 4.0 philosophy that has four basic pillars—automation, connectivity, variability, and touchless workflow—that represent the foundation of all of its equipment designs. “Each machine design starts with fully integrated automation, which is the basis for customization, variability and smart functions. We use connectivity as the basis for efficient production and smart services, as well as data analysis as the basis for the right decisions. These features are required to address the variability that makes it possible to make physical changes from product to product and to customize the content. Our touchless workflow is the combination of connectivity and automation required for seamless production changes largely without manual intervention by the operator,” says Fetherman.
Solimar Systems believes customers should strive to make as many processes as possible automated, repeatable, and intelligent. To facilitate this, it provides a platform that has been continuously developed by our leadership for 30 years. “We call it Chemistry because it embodies the scientific method of bringing technology together to improve the customer experience while also representing our strong focus on building deep, positive, and lasting relationships. And those relationships are not just with customers, but also partners, the media, and industry influencers. Within our solutions, we provide ways to remove manual processes through machine learning and templated, automated approaches. We also facilitate remote or distance working and provide a path to achieve visibility both on-site and off-site, bringing new opportunities to our customers while making sure they achieve measurable return on investment,” shares Malone-McGrew.
Driving Print Trends
The functions and features considered part of Industry 4.0 are implemented in many the existing products and services for today’s print providers. We will continue to see adoption and evolution of these solutions in the near future.
In part two of this series, we highlight specific considerations for print providers when it comes to Industry 4.0 and the technologies being utilized today.
Sep2021, DPS Magazine