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How can I reduce my reliance on skilled workers ?

20 April 2024: By Erwin Busselot, Director Business Innovation & Solutions, Ricoh Graphic Communications, Ricoh Europe.

The growing skills shortage in the print industry will be among the challenges keenly explored during drupa.

Since 2018, the number of people employed in the sector worldwide has dropped 14.8%, from 4.8 million to 4.0 million in 2022. Smithers’ The Future of Printer Demographics to 2028 predicts that this trend will continue.

The report said contributing to staff reductions were redundancies offsetting a fall in demand, increased operational efficiency enabled by automation, and older, and generally skilled, staff retiring early and leaving the industry. It warned the latter was likely to cause a continuing issue that will be felt for some years ahead.

It is time for printing operations to consider how they can be prepared.

Fortunately, technological advances are increasingly automating every element of the production process from job onboarding and planning to print registration, colour management and finishing.

End to end enhancements have improved ways of working that deliver time, cost, and consumable savings as well as increased productivity to maximise return on investment.

They deliver faster and consistent:

– Streamlined job onboarding, acceptance, and planning – Ricoh’s just-announced vendor agnostic, open architecture, workflow solution for Graphic Arts, including RICOH ProcessDirector™, enables touchless end to end job submission eliminating time consuming touchpoints, costly bottlenecks, reduced productivity, and unnecessary waste. Commercial print operations can streamline their processes and minimise touchpoints by automatically preflighting, imposing, and batching jobs. With integration into existing workflows, and by enabling automatic job routing to production, transition from traditional analogue to digital printing can also be aided.
– Support for mixed market applications that can print on digital and offset print devices – With RICOH TotalFlow Producer™, available in Europe from late April, print providers that have one or many locations can automate job onboarding with a centralised, web based portal for operation-wide visibility and control of their production workload.
– Provide both real time and historical insights – The creation of reports and updates can ensure transparency and foster stronger relationships. RICOH Supervisor™, collects and interprets operational data sourced to enhance understanding, reduce unnecessary communications, and ensure greater production efficiency.
– Intelligent press setup for press and play peace of mind – Ricoh’s latest innovations all feature groundbreaking technologies developed to push the boundaries of automation. The RICOH Pro™ VC80000 has a quick start feature that allows automated machine setup prior to the start of a shift without an operator on site while its light touch operation monitors registration, uniformity, ink density and jet outs freeing up operators and avoiding reprints due to quality issues. A highly automated quick paper setup enables a brand new substrate that is not stored in the media library to perform optimally at the touch of a button. All of which standardises operation, delivers colour consistency, eliminates print quality subjectivity, and assures production volume consistency. The RICOH Pro™ Z75, the first B2 perfecting (auto-duplexing) sheetfed inkjet platform using aqueous ink, incorporates significant automation solutions and an intuitive control panel to reduce the need for operator intervention and improve shift efficiency. It too, has a proprietary drying system that facilitates immediate finishing.
– High quality results job after job – Pro VC80000’s RICOH Pro Scanner ensures next level automated quality control by actively monitoring multiple facets of print quality. It constantly reviews the performance of each individual head for a reliable high level of output quality. Colour to colour and front to back registration are automatically controlled and corrections immediately implemented. It also eliminates manual image adjustment with a spectrophotometer for real time monitoring of colour reproduction.
– Automated accuracy – the easy creation of colour profiles precisely matched to industry standards for both offset and digital, is made possible with the award winning RICOH Auto Color Adjuster. Allowing anyone to produce consistent and accurate colour.
– Maximisation of uptime – Ricoh’s technologies support intelligent communication that manage maintenance and performance improvements. Service intervention can be predicted, and data collected to improve operational efficiency.
All of the above help increase capacity to maximise production and eliminate costly errors. They allow team members to focus on other areas of the business that require a human touch.

Discuss ways to elevate your operation while navigating the pressures of employment talk to our team at drupa. For more information, visit

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