07 August 2011 Digital Print

Heidelberg prepares own label entry into web to print

Heidelberg will offer its own web to print solution, provide ganging software, and aims at a full business integration system for print

Christopher Berti says Heidelberg will demonstrate new directions at Drupa

Christopher Berti says Heidelberg will demonstrate new directions at Drupa

HEIDELBERG WILL OFFER A BRANDED WEB TO PRINT solution by Drupa next year as it continues to build an all encompassing digital environment for print. But unlike MIS, where it bought Belgian software house Cerm, the web to print product will be created under an Oem deal. The name of the supplier underpinning what will be Web-to-Print Manager will be announced at US trade show GraphExpo next month, pointing towards a tie up with a major player in the US market.

“Web to print will be the default connection between customers and printers in the future, says Christopher Berti, Heidelberg’s head of the workflow and ctp business area. “Consequently we have to offer web to print as part of an automated end to end workflow solution.”

A BIG INFLUENCE ON HEIDELBERG'S DECISION has been the dramatic success of FlyerAlarm and Unitedprint on the German market where these companies have hoovered up vast amounts of print that would have otherwise gone to small printers, Heidelberg’s traditional customers. These companies have become customers for VLF presses, leading Heidelberg to develop its own ganging imposition application, due for launch at Drupa.

The intention is to automate linkage between print specifiers, the printer and the Prinect production environment with a single system acting as the brains of a print business. Currently MIS and Prinect sit alongside each other as linked but separate systems. Heidelberg plans to operate from a single data base driving both print production and MIS. “The situation today is that printers have islands of automation around the traditionally separate prepress, print and finishing processes, and linking them requires constant IT support Berti explains. “We call this Prinect 1.0.”

THERE IS A GROWING INTEREST IN BUSINESS integration he says which will drive investment in digital production, web to print and advanced MIS at far higher rates than conventional production workflow softwares. “Customers recognise that they need to invest in these areas,” he continues. “MIS is key, using JDF to connect to other suppliers of through our own MIS to avoid having redundant information which can cause confusion. This can be avoided through having a single data base to hold just one version of all data.”

It would have a consistent interface for users, holding current information on any job to ensure that this is always the most up to date available. This will not happen overnight. Heidelberg has set Drupa as a target for the first stages of the Heidelberg business information system with the integration of the Cerm MIS and the yet to be announced w2p application as well as specific packages to manage its growing digital print portfolio. The full flourishing of this strategy will be in place a year later. Meanwhile in the October update of Prinect this year, Heidelberg will launch the Print Business Manager as the next step along this path.

THE STRATEGY IS GOING TO COVER DIGITAL print where Heidelberg plans a full integration of the two technologies under a single print file format to avoid issues arising from running separate Rips for ctp and digital print. Berti says: “50% of our customers have digital devices next to offset which means that they have to have two workflows. They need a single workflow with smarter automation where the software decides whether it is an offset or a digital job.”

There will also be a production workflow for packaging, though there is no intention to take on EskoArtwork in the packaging design area. “Packaging companies have a different way of working, thinking of a single carton or label which can be repeated many times on a sheet rather than of a page. They think in terms of articles not jobs and have to consider many more spot colours than in commercial printing. We want to give these customers the same functionality as commercial printers receive.”

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Christopher Berti says Heidelberg will demonstrate new directions at Drupa

Christopher Berti says Heidelberg will demonstrate new directions at Drupa