By Frank J. Romano "58 percent of all respondents noted that CIM is irrelevant to their businesses or they don't know how it relates to them." September 20, 2004 -- Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) has garnered the lion's share of editorial coverage and attention in recent months. TrendWatch Graphic Arts released a special report which surveys industry users and indicates that CIM has yet to be significantly adopted by graphic arts businesses, and especially not prepress houses and commercial printers. Nor do they plan to do so in the near future, say the survey respondents. According to the TWGA report, "58 percent of all respondents noted that CIM is irrelevant to their businesses or they don't know how it relates to them." Specifically, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of responding prepress shops reported the same sentiments. Of all groups, periodical printers have embraced CIM more than any other printing segment, with 23 percent stating they have incorporated CIM into their production workflows and 20 percent stating they plan to invest in CIM workflows in the next 12 months. The report, titled "Computer Integrated Manufacturing: Hot Stuff? Or Much Ado About Nothing?" calls CIM a terrific concept, but says few printers have yet to really understand or embrace it as a solution. According to the Report's survey results: 30 % of respondents say they "have been reading about/studying" CIM; Another 6 % have attended some kind of industry event or seminar on CIM. Only 2 % of respondents see "implementing the CIM/Smart Factory concept" as a business challenge. Only 2 %of respondents see "helping customers to understand the CIM/Smart Factory concept" as a sales opportunity. The percentage of respondents planning to invest in CIM workflows has risen from 2 % to 4 % over the last six months. CIM will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. It will be the natural upgrade path as new equipment is installed. Eventually, more and more printers will adopt CIM at some level, even if it's just automated prepress workflows or automated press systems. As printers upgrade their equipment, even if it's every 20 years, the equipment they purchase will come standard with the automation required for these workflows to happen. At the same time, printers' staffing will change, becoming increasingly more digital-savvy and more computer-literate. CIM will happen, but its adoption will be slow, especially when you compare it to the exposure and resources dedicated to it in the last 12 months. CIM will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. It will be the natural upgrade path as new equipment is installed. The more your operation looks like a manufacturing factory--such as periodical, book, catalog, and other more or less similar products--the more integrated manufacturing can help you. We have yet to see how it will affect the commercial printer whose work types change from moment to moment. The outlook for CIM is not dim; it is actually rosy--but it will happen later rather than sooner.