After a few unpredictable years in production printing, the market is again on the path to stabilization and growth. Commercial printing shipments from all print technologies are up year-over-year in North America[i]. Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, also reports that European printers can pass through price increases to their customers, resulting in higher revenues[ii]. Printing paper availability is markedly improved, with most grades available but at prices higher than pre-pandemic. Most industry analysts point to an ever-increasing footprint for web-fed and cut-sheet inkjet presses, augmenting offset production in commercial print and achieving dominant status for transactional and direct mail marketing. With the continued evolution of inkjet solutions, this technology now supports every market segment. These are significant wins, but every printer must prepare for the remaining challenges to maximize such an investment.
Customer demands for print quality, faster turnaround times, personalization, lower job order quantities, and on-demand solutions are the norm. Even the best printing and finishing technology is only one part of the end-to-end production workflow needed to meet these requirements. The trend toward higher numbers of lower quantity jobs stresses conventional workflow processes when there is little to no automation.
The printing industry is also facing staffing challenges. The available pool of experienced professionals for key positions is shrinking, creating a talent drain. In their place, businesses are hiring individuals for their potential and developing or augmenting for the lack of expertise and experience. People-powered methods that rely on manual touchpoints must be replaced with intelligent, automated software solutions to thrive. Automation also deskills the level of expertise needed to perform the employees’ tasks, providing more flexibility in staffing.
Written for Ultimate TechnoGraphics by: