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A discussion with Stefan Hunkeler on the future of feed and finish

Published on July 18, 2011

Cary Sherburne asks CEO of Hunkeler Stefan Hunkeler where he sees the future of feed and finishing products in an automated work flow.

Cary:  Hi, Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Stefan Hunkeler.  Stefan, you know, we talk about how important the work flow software is and the quality of the print engines, but maybe we don’t spend enough time talking about feeding and finishing.  I’m sure Hunkeler thinks we don’t, right?  Maybe you could talk to us a little bit about the importance of feeding and finishing in an automated work flow.

Stefan Hunkeler:  Feeding and finishing is, of course, very important because of the productivity.  It does not help the printer if you don’t have the adequate finishing equipment for automated or for flexibility and so on, so you need this finishing and that’s one of the key points besides those ones you mentioned.

Cary:  And you do a lot of work with the vendors of the print engines to prepare for their new models when they come out, right?

Stefan:  Absolutely.

Cary:  So if I’m going to invest in a new printer from, oh, say a Xerox or HP, I should be able to come to you and get something in line that works with that new investment.

Stefan:  That’s right.  And that’s very important for our company to be in close contact with the printer vendors to see what this trend, what is coming out in the next two or three years so that we can start, if needed, new developments of new products for finishing, finishing equipment.

Cary:  And, you know, I noticed that, you know, a lot of the equipment can be operated inline or offline, near line.  What do you see in the field?  Do you see people doing more inline or do you see people doing more near line?  Finishing in the digital world?

Stefan:  I think it’s both, both tendency.  The biggest volume, where you don’t have edition 1, one of our volumes, it’s much more in the really high speed and inline fully inline, like they are used to doing the traditional printing market.  And then you have also the other ones who want to have much more flexibility, maybe a little bit less output or, and then to use as printer in full speed and then offline finishing in different areas.

Cary:  So an offline finisher could probably support more than one engine, too.

Stefan:  Yes, our customers, many of them have offline and online systems, both, depending on the jobs they have.

Cary:  So when you think about the future of feeding and finishing, I mean, you know, I think the latest sort of big change has been the width, we’re up to 30 inches on some of the presses now.

Stefan:  That’s right.

Cary:  But what do you sort of see coming down the pike in terms of what’s next for, you know, even more automation or capabilities.

Stefan:  I mean, it’s going for print, continuous print market is going faster, wider, and you have no limits with the width so with the speeds, they’ll be in this area there really a market whose image is very interesting for Hunkeler, and then on the other hand side, you have the smaller market, less automated but more flexible, so you will have both tendency in the future.

Cary:  And then the other piece, the final piece is really about the closed loop control, the cameras and things that allow you to look at the quality of the print as it’s coming off of the press.  And what’s going on there?

Stefan:  That’s for us a very important field because we think we have a perfect platform to control all of the quality and the content and I’m sure it will be even more important in future if you print from a blank roll to the finished product, you need to control and to be sure that you have the right quality and the right content.

Cary:  So you’re able to look at both the content and then the color quality parts, yeah.

Stefan:  Yes.  Yes, yes.

Cary:  That’s great.  We’ll look forward to future announcements.

Stefan:  Yeah.

Cary:  But we’ll be interested in seeing how some of these new modules play out in the marketplace.  Thank you.

Stefan:  Thank you very much.

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