Printing production changes with move from craft to industry

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Jim Dunn took over as president of Heidelberg USA last summer, putting him in charge of the printing equipment manufacturer’s largest market, North America.

Heidelberg operates in 170 countries and has more than 23,000 employees. It manufactures sheet-fed, digital and web press systems-as well as prepress and postpress components and printing software.

Dunn has been with the company for more than three decades, including stints as president of the Heidelberg Americas shared services division and CFO of Heidelberg Web Systems.

MB:What are the top technological trends in printing?

Dunn: If we were to characterize the top three focal points, they would be work flow, work flow, work flow. All of the most recent innovations are all about work flow, and that’s what it continues to be. I don’t think we have any discussion about equipment with a client without the discussion about how it fits into work flow, or how it will communicate with IT or anything else. This is certainly the logical progression of the print industry from a craft to an industrial process.

MB:What are the manifestations of this?

Dunn: Target times have changed drastically. When the job is being packed into a shipping box, that’s the target time. And you go back just five years ago, when you talked about target times, you talked about when it would be on press. Things are much more under control now. We’ve gone from a targeted time for it to be on press to a more or less fixed time for it to be not only on the press but into the boxes. And everything ahead of that is scheduled. And it’s all about the work flow. What was a three-week turnaround job is now a three-day turnaround job, and what was a three-day turnaround job is now a three-hour turnaround job.

MB:So what does that mean for the future? How much more time can be sliced?

Dunn: I don’t know, but I was up in New England a couple of months ago and I was watching a printer who does collateral material for Target Stores. His job is to get a job and turn it around within a day-posters, any in-store campaign materials. He might get it the night prior or the morning of, and he has to just get it going so by day’s end it’s being shipped to the stores along with printed instructions on how to use everything in the stores. If you were to say to me five years ago that someone could do that, I wouldn’t have believed you.

—Mark J. Miller

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