Experts verify results: Well-known experts from Europe and the U.S. on the Push to Stop tour at the end of October 2016 stopped off at Lokay Druck in Darmstadt, Druckerei Pruskil in Ingolstadt, and Aumüller Druck in Regensburg. The tour proved that drupa innovations from Heideldruck not only work well in practice, but also boost added value in print many times over from a standing start. For more on Push to Stop, see the ValueDialog “Quantum leap through digitization in offset printing” with Rainer Wolf, Head of Sheetfed Product Management at Heideldruck, which covers all technical aspects, modes of operation, and benefits of the new automation solutions.
By Andreas Weber, Head of Value
When it works, it really works. Unveiled at drupa 2016 and now already tried and tested in practice, intelligent, automated machine technology is catapulting industrial print media production to an unprecedented level of performance. “Print is a data-driven business. We have direct access to data volumes of over 20 terabytes,” says Thomas Kerndl, Technical Manager of Druckerei Pruskil in Ingolstadt. And this is entirely necessary, because at peak times Pruskil’s presses require up to 400 printing plates per hour to ensure full capacity utilization with fully automated job changes. With this in mind, the print shop purchased the latest Speedmaster XL 106 (an eight-color perfecting press), including comprehensive software, from Heideldruck at drupa 2016 and took this into operation in September 2016. It produces top-quality short and long runs for brand organizations, especially in the automotive sector. The way I see it, just four weeks of using the Push to Stop philosophy has as good as turned Pruskil’s press operators into the coolest of DJs – not disk jockeys, but data jockeys with full control over print production. They no longer experience avoidable stress. The pressure now passes to the assistants, who have to work at top speed to supply the necessary printing plates at the presses.
A huge wallscreen console provides a transparent overview of the entire job and manufacturing process. The press controls the process independently and calculates the optimum production method – not just for one job, but for up to 30 jobs in series simultaneously. During high-speed production at 18,000 sheets per hour with less than 100 startup sheets – and after printing roller cleaning and automatic plate changing (in less than three minutes for PSO-compliant jobs!) – press operators can view upcoming jobs/check them in real time and ensure they keep the press operating.
“Controlled by intelligent software, the press makes the better decisions,” stresses Lokay Druck’s General Manager and Head of Marketing Thomas Fleckenstein. He goes on to explain that autonomous printing is not simply a means to an end, maximizing efficiency in production, but also offers new opportunities for new markets and applications. Nearly ten years ago, Lokay was the first attested environmentally friendly print shop in Germany. It has maintained its premium green credentials and has now also become one of the first innovative smart print shops. Automation opens the way for new service offerings when producing short and medium-sized runs in real time. “We’ve recently even started offering vegan print products!” reveals Fleckenstein. This is proving extremely popular with Lokay customers who consider sustainability and the environment to be important, and also with new customers.
Smart print requires smart organization
Long-established company Aumüller Druck focuses not only on relevant technical innovations, but also on lean management and a corporate culture geared toward staff, partners, and customers. Long-standing partners include the leading online print shop Flyeralarm and Heideldruck. Together, they develop application solutions that help achieve huge productivity gains. In addition to the pressroom, postpress operations are also highly automated so as to be able to turn the huge quantities of items produced by Aumüller’s presses into final products without any bottlenecks.
It should be pointed out that the primary purpose of robotization (stacking up to 1,500 printing plates each day, for example) and automation is not to make people superfluous or to cut costs, but to reduce the “touchpoints”, that is to say the number of manual interventions in workflows and processes. Christian Aumüller, who runs the business together with his brother Stefan, stresses that they have established their own methodology/system for incorporating technology innovation optimally and thus effectively into all process steps. The theory behind this is that optimizing the design of the man-machine interfaces determines the overall success and the maximum benefit for customers.
Aumüller conducted the first Push to Stop field test a whole year ago at the end of 2015, always based on actual production tasks. Heideldruck recorded the findings and took them into consideration. Such a comprehensive “reboot” of sheetfed offset printing would otherwise never have been ready for practical application in such a short time. Christian Aumüller stressed that the Push to Stop field test enabled new options to be identified that the technical development and product management professionals at Heideldruck were unable to discover under laboratory conditions. “We’re proud to have made such progress with automation in print and given a further big boost to our production output – not only for long runs, but also for the ever more important short runs,” he says.
In the process, Aumüller has demystified the industry importance of digital printing for the on-demand printing of short runs. “Based on five or so jobs of just 200 sheets, our Push to Stop Speedmaster offset printing technology is cheaper and faster than digital printing! We also enjoy the huge benefits of autonomous printing for long runs,” he adds.
To sum up, autonomous “Push to Stop” printing has successfully established itself and will continue to develop. New dimensions are opening up regarding the specific benefits and possible uses at print shops. It is no longer printing capacities that are being sold. Instead, customers are benefiting from unique high-speed and high-quality services in real time that increase the value of print and enable it to meet the demands of the digital age.