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How can I reduce my reliance on skilled workers?

April 29, 2024  By Erwin Busselot

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 per cent, from 4.8 million to 4 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 maximize return on investment.

They deliver faster and consistent:

  • Streamlined job onboarding, acceptance, and planning – Commercial print operations can streamline their processes and minimize 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.
  • Mixed market applications – Support for mixed market applications that can print on digital and offset print devices is available.
  • Provide both real time and historical insights – The creation of reports and updates can ensure transparency and foster stronger relationships.
  • Intelligent press setup for press and play peace of mind.
  • High quality results job after job.
  • Automated accuracy – the easy creation of colour profiles precisely matched to industry standards for both offset and digital, is now possible.
  • Maximization of uptime – Service intervention can be predicted, and data collected to improve operational efficiency.

All of the above help increase capacity to maximize production and eliminate costly errors. They allow team members to focus on other areas of the business that require a human touch.

Erwin Busselot is director of business innovation and solutions, Ricoh Graphic Communications, Ricoh Europe

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