Screen & Horizon join forces in AI production print solution

Screen and finishing manufacturer Horizon have announced they are collaborating in the development of a new solution that utilises Artificial Intelligence (AI) to further enhance Horizon’s Smart Factory which is supported locally by Currie Group.

The new AI solution, which is designed to resolve standard print production process issues, will be ready for roll-out in January 2022.

Once complete it will enable a number of issues concerning equipment, operating environment, print data or operator skill levels to be easily resolved.

Changes to settings and conditions are often used to fix these problems, but this does require experienced operators to manage the process and as more experienced employees look towards retirement this could present some issues for print businesses.

Screen and Horizon have moved to address this trend with the development of an AI engine that will be acquire their combined expertise in digital printing and postpress systems and use this to optimise operations.

Screen GP ANZ managing director Peter Scott

Screen GP managing director for Australia and New Zealand Peter Scott said: “AI is not about replacing skilled workers; it is about maximising their knowledge of processes so that future operators may work more efficiently, reduce waste and deliver faster turn-arounds to customers.

“JDF and CIP3/4 are good but are by no means universal. Horizon is recognised as the world’s leading finishing manufacturer and Screen as the pioneer of inkjet colour web printing.

“Together with Horizon’s Smart Factory programme, and capably supported locally by Currie Group, the new AI joint development is sure to take printers into future full of confidence.”

The AI engine will be used to analyse operating data accumulated from different production lines by Horizon’s iCE LiNK and Screen’s TRUST Network Service.

This AI will be able to optimise settings and conditions, identify steps to address potential issues and provide general operational assistance for individual lines. The overall goal of the service  will  be  to  support  operators  and  enable  the  creation  of  a  production  environment  that  any  employee can use easily, safely and efficiently.

Essential transition

Horizon Inc. President Eijiro Hori said: “The transition to Smart Factory will be essential for print and binding facilities of the future. Since the latter half of the 1990s, our company has been leading the way in managing equipment operations using numerical data  acquired directly from  systems.  This  new  AI-based  data  analysis  project  is  another  step  toward  the  realisation of our goal.

“Statistical analysis of numerical data enables the setup of equipment using a very fine level of adjustment that has so far depended on the experience of operators. It also offers the ability to prevent potential issues before they occur. By effectively utilising AI, I believe we will be able to present a system with the capacity to operate and manage the  entire  production  process  from  printing  to  book  binding  without  interruption.”

Takanori Kakita, President of Screen Graphic Solutions says: “Production in the current digital era means people, environment and processes are all interconnected and one company working alone will not achieve the transition to Smart Factory. Among the many areas that must be addressed, one of the most vital is seamless linking of digital print and postpress processes due to its direct connection to productivity.

“By combining the specialized knowledge possessed by both companies, and utilizing the power of data and AI, we hope to drive the evolution of production systems. Progress in this field will help to meet various current societal demands, such as those calling for increased diversity in the workplace and the reduction of waste. It will also help to promote the realisation of mass customisation.”

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