Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA), the world's second-largest printing press manufacturer, presented a raft of spectacular innovations for digital and offset print at the drupa trade show in May 2012. One of these highlights was a new generation of highly automated Rapida sheetfed offset presses.
Engineered for ultrafast makeready, and with maximum production speeds of 20,000 sph in medium format or 17,000 sph in large format, the KBA Rapidas are the most productive sheetfed offset presses on the world market. Such advanced presses would naturally be incomplete without cutting-edge console technology. The new KBA ErgoTronic console offers not only a modern design, with 19" TFT touchscreen and a generous wall screen for ergonomic access to all press and process control functions, but also new options for the integration of measuring technologies. In the meantime, the interface of the new ErgoTronic console has even received a coveted iF communication design award 2013 for its successful symbiosis of form and function.
The intelligent modular layout of the new console permits intuitive handling of all sheetfed offset presses of the new Rapida generation. An agreeable general appearance matching the design of the press itself, with immediately understandable icons and large, readily identified operating elements, simplifies daily work for the printer and reduces training needs when commissioning a new Rapida.
We spoke to Stefanie C. Zürn, senior designer at macio GmbH in Kiel and in this role the person behind the intuitive user interface of the new ErgoTronic console, and asked for her impressions of the project:
- Had you already worked on such extensive interfaces before?
I have been developing and designing graphical user interfaces for international clients in machinery and plant engineering for over 15 years, and that has naturally included a few similarly large projects. Even so, this project was something special for me, because I worked a lot in print companies in the past, and I have always felt very much at home in this branch.
What was especially pleasing about the work with KBA?
It is every time a special pleasure when an idea starts to take visible form, when it stands up to qualified, practice-related testing and the final application comes within reach. Over the whole duration of the project, I experienced good and intensive cooperation between macio GmbH and the KBA design team in Radebeul. The atmosphere was always friendly and constructive, and that is perfect for concentrated, targeted work. In such a situation, you cannot fail to enjoy accompanying new innovative ideas step by step along the road to implementation.
Such awards are a proud moment for every designer, because they document independent recognition of our work. But it is still even more important praise to hear that the user is happy and can work quickly, safely and reliably with the product.What does the iF communication design award 2013 mean for you?
Central workplace for intuitive operation
The console of a modern sheetfed offset printing press is the hub at which all information on press status, product quality and job progress is brought together. It is from here that the printer sets and – where appropriate – adjusts all the necessary process parameters. Planning data and other meta information on the print jobs in hand must also be taken into account to achieve ultimate efficiency at job changeovers. Work sequences can then be optimised with regard to washing cycles, logistics and external priorities. Cameras in the press provide a permanent insight into sheet travel conditions, and deliver high-resolution images for parallel evaluation of the print quality. The images are displayed on an additional large screen. In this information-packed working environment, a sophisticated interaction concept is imperative to enable fast, purposeful intervention in the production process.
All functions should be directly accessible via touchscreen selection on the console monitor. Additional devices – whether mouse or trackball – to control the display on the wall screen are taboo, despite the screen being out of immediate reach for the printer.
The clever design concept reflects all these demands and generates added value beyond that of a classic press control interface. Console operation has been redesigned from the ground up, and furthermore standardised over the whole family of new Rapida presses.
- Everything under control
The user interface can be adapted to accommodate press configurations from one to 20 printing, coating and drying units. Its clearly laid-out screens depict all available press functions and also provide controls for the display on the wall screen behind the console. Operation at the feeder and delivery is based on the same tidy structures. The graphic design of the interface icons follows branch standards and is deliberately plain and unencumbered. The printer is thus offered optimum support in every situation encountered in daily work.
The integration of intuitive technologies supports efficient and reliable use. Informative changes to the operating elements during and after selection provide for confident operation of these high-performance presses. The printer is even given opportunity to set up coming jobs in advance and in this way to avoid unnecessary downtimes. All in all, the implemented design concept satisfies every conceivable demand in the most elegant manner possible.