"Driving the Digital Transformation" – this is the motto of Muller Martini's appearance at drupa 2024 from May 28 to June 7 next year in Düsseldorf. I am convinced that digitalization in our industry will also open up considerable opportunities for the production of analogue, i.e. printed products. Not only in the design of brochures, magazines and catalogs, but also in the cost-effectiveness of the entire production process. We therefore want to consistently exploit the potential of new technologies with our solutions.
Increasing volumes for very short runs, the desire for even more variability in product design, high quality standards, cost pressure and the shortage of skilled workers are current challenges facing our industry. In my view, the digital transformation offers enormous potential to meet these challenges.
At drupa 2024, our innovations will show how we support our customers on their individual journeys into the future. We offer customers a homogeneous system package with our comprehensive, modular platform that can grow with their needs This is how we support them as a partner on their journey to digital transformation. In doing so, we are following our claim: Muller Martini – your strong partner!
New opportunities for Muller Martini and its customers
Let me first explain what the opportunities are that the digital transformation opened up to our company. The decisive factor is increasingly not the individual machine, but several machines in an integrated production system. This means that the higher-level workflow, which dynamically controls the production process, becomes an important success factor. We are subsequently well prepared to support our customers in digital transformation with our extensive range of solutions which we have expanded in a targeted manner over the years.
The opportunities for customers lie in new product forms such as personalized content or the use of high-quality materials - but also in on-demand production, whereby storage costs or overproduction can be eliminated. Of course, the digital transformation also poses challenges for graphic arts companies. This is because it requires investment in personnel, expertise and equipment.
An optimal end-to-end process is crucial
The decisive factor for the success of a new system is the entire process and not primarily the selected printing technology. Small production volumes are also possible in offset printing. Therefore, the economically viable production of short runs does not necessarily require digital printing presses, but above all an end-to-end process from prepress to dispatch.
Today, we use solutions from the Muller Martini portfolio and from our partner companies to design this process. But one thing is already clear: a digital printing press that can dynamically change the print image from page to page offers great potential for simplifying the production process.
Connex is the key to efficient production
The workflow is therefore at least as important as the printing technology. Our Connex system
is a key driver behind the digital transformation. It is really an impressive thing if you consider the necessary functionality to dynamically map without manual intervention all variants and influences in the manufacturing process. A typical Connex example is the correct page arrangement - impositioning - on the printing sheet with all the necessary marks, codes and further processing variables that need to be taken into account during further processing for a high-quality product. And in extreme cases, this changes dynamically from product to product. This is why Connex and its functions are the key to efficient production.
Connex also offers further potential, for example to make processes more efficient and transparent: knowing the current status of your production at all times, producing minimal waste, being able to optimize the energy balance, identifying problem areas immediately and making the right decisions or increasing the degree of automation.
Connex also provides an important basis for AI applications with the orderly collection of data along the process chain in order to make production even more efficient and economical or to improve systems. This allows variables that have an impact on production to be identified and taken into account through targeted measures.
Advisory expertise through practical experience
We have acquired a great deal of new knowledge through numerous projects over the past few years. This expertise is becoming more widely available with the significant increase in market activity. Our experts are a decisive factor in planning projects correctly and bringing them to a successful conclusion. As a solution provider, we advise our customers holistically and show them ways in which they can strengthen and expand their business with the help of digitalization.
I still see a lot of potential
We took a big step with our production lines shown under Finishing 4.0 at our presentation at drupa 2016. Over the past eight years, we have learned a lot, expanded our platform, implemented new functions, developed machines from scratch, simplified or automated processes and eliminated weak points. But the development continues and I still see a lot of potential – until one day high-quality, printed products are produced from digital information without manual intervention.
Every crisis has an accelerating effect
The editor-in-chief of a German trade journal recently wrote in his editorial that the coronavirus pandemic has given the digitalization required in our industry a technological boost. This is not wrong, but it was not due to the pandemic alone. We must not forget that digitalization in the printing industry has been underway for 20 years. It is true that every crisis accelerates an ongoing structural change, as it forces us to change. When the pain – or rather the urgency – increases, so does the willingness to take risks and try something new.
drupa continues to be of great importance
For me, it is also undisputed that trade fairs will not lose their significance. Over the past four years, online events and webinars have taken the place of face-to-face events. Although I appreciate the efficient exchange of information via the virtual channel, I still prefer face-to-face events. They offer much more in terms of the physical experience and lasting understanding of a new machine, technology or topic.
That's why I have no doubt that drupa will continue to play an important role as a face-to-face event and leading trade fair for the graphic arts industry. And not just externally, but also internally. Our appearance in 2016 generated a fascinating surge of motivation from the trade fair stand all the way back to our factories. This spirit was also transmitted to our visitors and created a positive, optimistic mood. This is also an important goal of this trade fair, in addition to the expected deals.
drupa 2024 will point the way forward
drupa 2024, which will be held under the motto "We create the future", will point the way forward in order to recognize how the broad interest in trade fairs is developing. A large trade fair like drupa thrives on a consistently high visitor frequency and not just on opinion leaders.
The big question is therefore: How many people will come to Düsseldorf next May and June after eight drupa-less years?
Initial signals from the trade fair management are optimistic. For example, drupa 2024 will have the same amount of space as 2016, and all halls will once again be occupied. That's why I'm already looking forward to seeing lots of exciting new solutions and meeting our global customers so that I can talk to them about our business.
We will be showing four innovative production lines with workflow integration
Muller Martini has always used drupa as an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to the industry and its customers with innovative solutions. This will also be the case in 2024. On our stand you will see the Antaro Digital perfect binder
with SigmaLine Compact
, the Primera PRO saddle stitcher
and the Ventura MC 200 thread sewing machine
– four highly automated, industrial production lines naturally integrated and our Connex workflow.
I am confident that we will give you a fascinating and convincing glimpse into the future at our stand and I am already looking forward to many exciting discussions with you.
CEO Muller Martini