01 December 2019 Analogue Printing Technologies

Heidelberg names Galloways as first UK user for digital Assistant

Coming soon to a German press near you is the mobile business manager, a digital control desk for a production environment that provides a view over everything on the shop floor and knows how well the business is running.

Galloways has become the first UK user of the Heidelberg Assistant, a digital view across the production process. The Stockport business installed Versafire EP and Speedmaster five-colour CX102 presses earlier this year and the Assistant will link to these to provide real time data to the Assistant user.

The UK has lagged a little in the adoption of the technology. Heidelberg has close to 1,000 of the tablet devices in use at more than 400 sites around the world since introduction at the end of last year. In the UK the transition from Gerard Heanue to Ryan Miles as managing director slowed the take up. Germany, Switzerland, Canada and the US were the first markets tackled, followed by Poland, Austria and Japan ahead of the UK.

Now it will be full speed ahead. “The Heidelberg Assistant is a key solution in the digital transformation process at Heidelberg. The innovative applications of this open digital platform offer our customers access to important performance data and introduce a new era of digital customer communication and collaboration,” Miles says.

Information about job and production status is displayed via the internet on a PC, tablet or smartphone. Users can order consumables, report problems and check status of service calls and use the portal as a channel for all communications with Heidelberg.

For Galloways, it is a logical extension of a drive to connect all elements of production from its Tharstern MIS to presses and finishing through Heidelberg’s Prinect workflow, a project underway for the last couple of years. Until recently all production elements stood alone, says Matt Galloway. “Now it’s all connected and fully automated up and down stream,” he said on installation of the litho press.

This has enabled a print to the numbers approach with GMG providing colour consistency across digital and litho platforms, and with six minute job changeovers and minimal waste, this level of automation is needed.

Currently the approach is unique to Heidelberg, though Landa famously showed touch panel operation from a giant screen when launching nanography at Drupa in 2012. At the show and subsequently, Benny Landa has interacted with the press using a tablet.

At the next Drupa, Koenig & Bauer is to introduce its version, currently in use at trial sites. This is a dedicated device rather than a standard smartphone. There is no Sim card so no ability to make calls or link directly to the internet. The K&B app will be part of the digital ecosystem displaying the performance of the press, the service history and jobs printed.

“A user can display standardised reports,” says Andy Rae vice president of global strategic selling at Koenig & Bauer. “We are working on enabling a user to build bespoke reports to create their own dashboards so that they can drill down through the metrics.”

This, he explains, will help with predictive maintenance. If say, a plate change is taking a couple of seconds longer on one unit than it should, the software will flag that attention is needed, well ahead of it becoming a serious problem. “It could be an issue with a sensor or that the wrong grease has been used,” he says. “It means that we can act before this becomes a problem.”

More prosaically, the tool can be used to check stock levels for ink and other consumables, by logging each time a can of ink is taken from the shelf, what it is and then placing an order to replenish levels if necessary.

These are technologies which, in an increasingly pressured working environment, can remove the need to note things down and then remember later to act upon them.

By Gareth Ward

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Assistant in action

Assistant in action

Heidelberg has named the first UK user of its Heidelberg Assistant, designed to give production updates to managers on the move. Koenig & Bauer will be introducing its version at Drupa next year.

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