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26-03-18 - Marjolein Ekkelboom, MPS

Technical Seminar 2018: Is the label printing industry ready for the Internet of Things?

It’s impossible to imagine life without the Internet.

Our smartphones, laptops, tablets and even our cars are connected. The internet makes communicating, finding information and doing business easy. And, communication is no longer restricted to just people. We can now communicate with our devices and our devices can communicate with each other.

But this instant connection we find so normal in our own lives…are we ready to embrace this connectivity in the label printing industry?

In this blog, I share my perspective which I presented at the recent FINAT Technical Seminar in Barcelona.

Challenges to the label market

FINAT is the well-known and respected European association for the self-adhesive label industry. During their 3-day technical seminar in Barcelona, I learned a lot about the various printing techniques and the common challenges printers are facing.

The label print industry is rapidly changing. With the introduction of the digital press and hybrid presses, new substrates inks and coatings you can make labels that sparkle, move or vibrate, and personalize them right down with someone’s name.

How can printers effectively cope with these changes and make their businesses more productive and efficient?

Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0

You’re likely familiar with these terms, and as a Global Marketing Manager, I was especially keen in hearing the presentations and discussions about these topics at the FINAT technical seminar. On behalf of MPS, I shared my vision as to how Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), and Industry 4.0 impact the label printing industry and will shape manufacturing of the future.

Automation is key. Manual operations, which involve loss of time, increased chance of error, and material waste are evolving every day to more automated processes. Now you can connect your machines to Management Information Systems (MIS), to other machines, and to the Internet. We can use sensors to understand and monitor our machines and can even let the machine order their own spare-parts.

he printing press is no longer a stand-alone press. It is now part of an integrated workflow process.

Connectivity Advantages

In label printing, IoT will manage itself, or at least reduce the degree of human intervention in various printing processes and will become a day-to-day reality. Label printers can connect the press and print jobs to the IT network, the Management Information System, Job Memory, service, purchasing, and logistics to provide direct access to know-how, and link production resources. This all takes place by digitally collecting real-time data using a connectivity platform such as the MPS ‘talk to me’.

The connectivity system can transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or even human-to-computer interaction. It makes it possible to start collecting data…and a lot of it.

The advantage of all this collected data? You’re more aware of what’s happening in the real world, in real time. You can combine and connect all your processes, even outside your company.

Improve the printing process

To summarize, connectivity positions your company to receive constant real-time information about performance. And, by analyzing this data, you can improve the printing process and strengthen customer loyalty.

In my next blog I will share more insights about taking first steps to a fully automated printing process and why it’s a necessity to keep your competitive position.

Are you ready?