We’ve been talking about Big Data, Digital Transformation, Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0 for so many years.
In our daily life, it’s happening all around us. Take a look at our cars, televisions and even our refrigerators. More and more intelligent products and services will be introduced into our lives.
So, what does Big Data mean to the Label Printing Industry?
What Big Data is and why it’s really important
Putting it simply, Big Data is a bunch of collected data and facts.
Big Data is the key in bringing our businesses to the next level. It’s the basis of continuous improvement or “Kaizen” as the Japanese define so well.
We need to turn data into meaningful facts by analysing them, so that it brings value to us. With this valuable and reliable information, we can make better decisions and gain more insights which leads to new ideas.
However, making decisions based on data is easier said than done.
Not everyone is used to this methodology. Some of us are quick to say, “I know my stuff. I’ve been in this industry for many years.” Often though, the reports based on facts show a different picture versus what is in the minds of some.
Using data must become part of the company culture, and often requires a mindset change.
What about Big Data in the Label Printing Industry?
The printing industry in general is called an art – Graphic Arts. Especially in the past, for example, colours were estimated and not measured.
Much has changed over the years.
Digital workflows with quality monitoring processes and MIS systems have given us tremendous consistency in quality and increased productivity.
One black box remains though: rarely do we collect data from the actual printing press.
We allow operators to fill in events and functions. So, important criteria such as accurate speed over time, web tension of the infeed and outfeed, exact set up times, waste, pressed function keys – like the registration function – are not clearly known.
Input by operators is not only prone to human error, it limits the number of data points.
This means we don’t clearly know what’s happening with the press during the day or week. We can’t clearly benchmark jobs run by different operators with different skill levels or jobs run on different presses.
This makes continuous improvement processes more difficult to implement as facts based on real-time data aren’t being used.
That’s where Big Data can help the label printing industry.
Sensor Technology and Intelligent Label Printing Machines
In the latest generation of label printing presses, sensor technology combined with the Internet of things (IoT) makes real-time data collection possible.
Hundreds of sensors in these intelligent label presses enable us to collect data from hundreds of events in less than a second. Software converts this data into an array of reports and charts. Suddenly, press operation becomes transparent. The press is mirrored.
The digital twin of the press is born.
Reports show abnormalities, best and worst practices. So, continuous improvement can now be based on real, unbiased facts and benchmarking.
Time and material savings now achievable can literally save label printing companies hundreds of thousand dollars per year.
The next step – mindset change
Having data and reports alone is not enough.
Data provides knowledge and understanding. It doesn’t necessarily lead to action. The drive to make improvements is something that needs to be fostered within the company.
To ensure a more competitive position in the market, it’s critical for your business to understand and accept that connectivity, IoT and Big Data is already available in today’s intelligent label printing presses.
The use of data to increase the understanding of your label print operation will grow more and more. This is not a trend that will pass.
Investments should be made towards this direction. Step-by-step. The first step should be the one step to stay ahead. Start small, but…start now!
So, are you ready?
Intelligent Label Presses and Performance Programs from MPS Systems
Besides a range of intelligent presses, MPS Systems also offers support together with other expert panels to interpret performance reports, benchmarking and give recommendations for improvements.
MPS Performance Programs are available to support you in bringing your productivity to a next level.
Would you like to know more about MPS and how we can bring your business to next level of productivity? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Zee Cheng (Cheng) Tham is Office & Marketing Coordinator at MPS Asia in Malaysia. She first entered the printing industry when she joined MPS in November 2018.