White Stone, VA, July 2001—Top technologists and strategic planners from leading printing, premedia and publishing companies around the world met in Orlando, Florida, on June 18-20, at the 2001 R&E Council/GCA Digital Smart Factory Conference to discuss integrated manufacturing in the printing industry, and to learn how several printing industry companies have successfully implemented various automation technologies. The 2001 meeting was the latest in an annual series of conferences initiated by the R&E Council to explore the efficiencies possible when the print manufacturing process is automated. The conference was cochaired by Orlando Boleda, R&E Council vice president of Digital Networked Production Systems, and Charles R. Gehman, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Printable.com.
Keynoters at the meeting were William J. Ray, president of Group InfoTech, and Bill Davison, president of Point Balance, both of whom commented on the complexity involved in integrating computer systems which have been developed at different times to serve different purposes. Speakers at the meeting focused on successes in the newspaper, coupon insert, and general commercial printing areas, demonstrating that properly conceived and executed digital smart factories can yield significant savings and efficiencies. Björn Hedin, researcher and teacher at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, and Per-Arne Fernsund, IS manager at Göteborgs-Posten in Göteborg, Sweden, described an implementation of IFRAtrack at the newspaper. Mark Mitchell, chief information officer at PMP Limited in Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia, described automation efforts at his diversified printing and publishing company. David Rapp, R&D manager at Valassis in Plymouth, Michigan, told the audience how the large insert printer has fully automated a complex prepress system. Also discussed at length were the current status of the CIP4 initiative which addresses many industry needs, as well as that of various page and job description formats. In the conference wrapup session, the 2001 Digital Smart Factory Conference attendees heard Rochester Institute of Technology executive William J. Sheeran, assistant vice president for academic affairs and director of CIMS, compare automation in the printing industry to that in more traditional manufacturing processes. Notes and presentations from the conference are posted at www.recouncil.org.
In discussing the conference, R&E Council managing director Ronald L. Mihills commented: "The 2001 Digital Smart Factory conference is testimony to the progress being realized in the printing industry toward automated manufacturing and integrated production processes. Particularly gratifying is the cooperation evident between industry suppliers and printing organizations. The R&E Council and the Graphic Communications Association are pleased to provide a forum at which these important issues can be aired for the benefit of the entire print and publishing industry."
The Research & Engineering Council of the Graphic Arts Industry is dedicated to the education of printing industry personnel in the latest technologies and productivity improvement methods. The Council conducts seminars at which publishers, printers, educators, consultants and suppliers meet to share information and learn about leading edge technologies affecting the graphic arts industry. At three annual seminars—Pressroom, Bindery, and Digital Smart Factory—the latest technologies are reviewed in the context of actual print production. The Council also holds technology breakfasts at key industry trade shows, and an annual meeting highlighting critical trends in the graphic arts industry. Information regarding membership and seminars is available from the Council at 804-436-9922, at [email protected]
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