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Exclusive interview with Heidelberg's Sabine Roob

Ahead of her presentation at this year's Digital Print for Packaging Europe in Berlin, we spoke to Sabine Roob, Product Management Prinect Workflow at Heidelberg, to discuss workflow for digital print, the PrimeFire 106, future industry developments and more.

Q1. Your presentation will discuss 'Workflow for digital print - what we have learned from initial experience? Development of the Primefire 106', could you provide us with more detail on what this will entail?

At Drupa 2016, Heildelberger Druckmaschinen AG presented for the first time the Primefire 106, a digital press specially designed for the packaging market. Since 2017, Primefire has been undergoing field tests at several packaging printers. My colleague, Bernhard Schaaf, presented on this last year at Digital Print for Packaging Europe 2017 together our first field test customer.

Primefire is being used in three packaging print houses with very different requirements. It turns out that especially the workflow adaption to the individual requirements of each print shop is a challenge. It is not just about functions to efficiently supply the machine with data, but also about the integration into existing structures and new requirements for the digital business models.

Q2. Why do you think this is an important topic to discuss and what effect could it have on the industry?

Due to a high proportion of repeat orders and legal regulations, packaging production is much more industrialised than the production of commercial products. The cost pressure is also growing. The manufacturing processes must contribute to a responsible use of material resources for higher sustainability of the production, and offer an optimum support to the staff, which is often responsible for a growing number of tasks of increased complexity. Cost pressures and the trend towards greater individulisation lead to the need for different production processes i.e. offset and digital - to be efficiently combined and automated, helping to build an opportunity out of the business challenges.

Q3. Where do you foresee the digital print for packaging industry heading?

On one side, the trend for shorter production runs drives the need for flexibility in production, which is a fundamental value of the digital technology. In addition to this, the increasing number of product variations, localisation and traceability needs for some segments to reinforce the importance of reliable digital production in the packaging arena.

On the other side, while most converters have been production for brands so far, i.e. business-to-business, individual boxes for end consumers are increasingly coming into play. In order to respond to that growing demand, communication via the internet, cloud solutions, web shops and portals have to be integrated into the workflow, increasing the importance of a well thought through set up of equipment, tools and platforms as a decisive factor for business success.

Q4. What do you think the biggest hurdle in the industry is at the moment?

The management of interfaces between different platforms, equipment and business management tools is the biggest challenge many converters face. This is a tough challenge as each manufacturer optimises their products, but does not necessarily work for third-party products. With Prinect, Heidelberg has a workflow system that consistently relies on standards such as PDF, JDF and JMF, and covers all areas from order enquiry to structural design, prepress, printing and postpress, up to invoicing. Online communication between the printer and its customers, automation (reducing touchpoints), avoiding waste and reducing set-up times in order to optimally utilise machines are the focus of attention. Enabling interaction with products from other manufacturers at any point is a demanding task that requires the cooperation and willingness of all concerned.

Q5. What are you most looking forward to at Digital Print for Packaging Europe 2018?

At DPP, suppliers, brand owners and design agencies all come together so a good exchange of information takes place, which drives the industry forward. Trends become visible as well as bottlenecks in existing processes and solutions can be discussed.

Q6. Why do you feel it's important for people to attend Digital Print for Packaging Europe 2018?

One learns a lot of new things and trends, hears about new ideas as well as pain points of converters and brand owners, sees solutions from different provicers and above all can expand its network in order to discuss individual concerns.

Sabine will be presenting as part of the Colour Management and Workflow track at this December's conference. Other presentations in the session include:

  • Brand colour management: Meeting the customers' expectations and requirements - Vicky Barrett, Clarins Fragrance Group and Mark Sanderson, CMA Imaging
  • From digital colour specification to digital press: How to get colour first-time right - Jan De Roeck, Esko and X-Rite Pantone

View the full programme >

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