Agfa is shifting its prepress emphasis to the cloud and subscriptions with Apogee V12, announced last week, being the first that will stress the subscription model.
Unveiling the latest version, Erik Peeters says that the current pandemic has accelerated an existing trend. “Covid-19 means that the established software model is a thing of the past. Printers demand more flexibility. Apogee Cloud is a complete prepress production solution,” he says. “We are currently reviewing the subscription modal and business, based on the amount of data processed.”
A further important benefit, says Peeters, is that the cloud approach removes the need for a company to support its own servers and networking. “Companies do not need to employ people that are skilled in IT. It’s a definite help because we are taking that burden way from companies.”
Agfa runs its own data centres in North America and Europe. These have been designed with the necessary security for its healthcare division, where privacy issues dictate that security and resilience are of the highest level.
The ability or desire to work from home has clearly had an impact in Agfa’s thinking. Apogee Cloud will allow full remote control over production, “so a sales rep can book in and create new jobs.” From then, according to the requirements of the job, the file will generate proofs or go directly to the production workflow.
Jobs can also be captured by V5.6 of Storefront, the latest implementation of the web to print application that sits across Apogee and large format workflow Asanti. It includes the latest version of the Child Publish Editor for online editing of print jobs.
On the production side, there is a new version of GCR tool Inktune and Spiral, a new screening approach that delivers ink savings over standard screening. This is targeted at newspaper and web offset applications, where a claimed 9% overall ink saving can be significant.
The company acknowledges that the move to subscription first will have an impact on sales. “There will be a dip in revenue because, rather than a one-off payment, the costs will be spread out, but after three or four years there will be growth,” says Peeters. “Just how much that will be is part of the evaluation we are carrying out into the price point for each subscription.”
There is a robot loading system for the Avalon platesetters, replacing the current autoloading systems. A single robot can feed two high speed platesetters from five different plate sizes from a static position. The first of these robots is installed at web offset Stibo Complete in Denmark. It has been using robots to improve productivity at the company’s guillotines for a number of years. As with the Apogee Cloud, interest in robotic handling of this kind has been stimulated by Covid-19.
The company had also planned to focus on three plate types at Drupa. Verve is a long run thermal plate that uses a preheat stage rather than a post imaging bake to deliver long run lengths and to help reduce the number of web breaks a heatset printer might suffer. This reduces waste while the preheat is more energy efficient than a baking oven to produce a more environmentally friendly long run plate.
The Adamas plate is now fully available. It is a chemistry free plate that is replacing the Azura portfolio of plates where Agfa has noted a decline in demand. The plate has a claimed life of 350,000 impressions, 75,000 on presses with UV inks.
Eclipse is a develop-on-press process-free plate as a drop in replacement for standard plates, with a broad latitude on fount solutions and the ability to work with LED UV and H-UV inks. The high contrast latent image is safe in office lights for 24 hours and has scratch resistance.
Agfa is working on a subscription model for its Apogee Cloud production workflow as the changes wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic has stimulated interest in subscriptions to ease the burden of maintaining IT systems and to offer greater flexibility for printers.