Spotlight: Marc Raad of Significans Automation
Toronto, Ontario-based Significans Automation Inc., a newly formed global professional services company that formerly operated as Myrpress Consulting Inc., has launched its prepress custom workflow
Established this year by a team of graphic arts experts who share more than 100 years of experience between them, Significans Automation creates colour-managed, custom automated workflows that are built on existing foundational systems. Led by Marc Raad and Mircea Petrescu, the company says its customers can expect an “entirely integrated” operation that automates labour-intensive jobs, eliminates barriers to enhanced productivity, and facilitates robotics and robotic workflows in the future. Raad describes how increased automation will help drive print efficiency and development.
How would you describe the state of the print industry?
MR: We are in a pre-robotics era — we will see a lot more robotics, as well as artificial intelligence, drive businesses like printers, converters, brand owners, and the supply chain. Robotics and AI will drive our future printers which have to automate their processes to take advantage of these innovations. Businesses become more profitable only when they take costs out of operations in the “new” competitive marketplace.
Print and automation will continue to work hand-in-hand. Printers don’t really have a choice. Their clients and suppliers are all going down this path and printers have to embrace automation to be competitive. Profitability is a top challenge facing printers and it is dwindled if operations aren’t efficient. We propose that companies become much more automated within their operations as well as with their customers; this allows them to gain more control in an optimized way.
Why adopt integrated solutions?
MR: When the first computer came out it was big and bulky, and the average graphic arts business couldn’t afford it. Now computers are all around us and are quite affordable, and you can see people walking around everywhere with iPads and cellphones and many other [modern technologies]. Affordability is the driver for automation. As automation becomes more affordable in the coming years, I predict more companies will adopt it, which will also enable the smaller [commercial] printers to better compete against the larger players.
Our goal is to build upon the software systems printing companies already have. When a system is tailored for a particular business, that business gains an asset and is able to continue building up its intellectual property. The natural gains facilitate a competitive advantage, control, speed and independence.
What I’ve noticed over the last couple of years is that most [individuals] hold back from adopting innovative approaches because they are so engulfed with the day-to-day operations that they’re unable to support a long training period. Integrated solutions are the “easy button” for print shops. Customized integration will give decision-makers the opportunity to invest in more innovation and gain faster ROI.
We create easy to adopt and manage modern and unmanned workflows. I say unmanned carefully because we don’t want to displace workers but unfortunately the economic [landscape] is changing the role of humans in certain production environments, especially those who perform a very laborious graphical or manual process to prepare files for printing. [We hope] these individuals will become the administrator and manage these processes through control dashboards. The skill that they have is always going to be a necessity because if something should fail – that odd time it does – and automation cannot fulfill a job, then that skilled labour is required.
Why is print still a good industry to be in?
MR: Print is all around us — it’s the way we communicate and interact with people across the globe. Reports show the printing industry is within the top five industries globally. Yes, there are less pages being printed today but if you look at segment growth, which is quite apparent, there is growth in large-format, packaging and labelling – a lot of which you can’t do without, for example, labelling for ingredients. You can’t just put any print on a bottle and tell the [public], ‘Go figure out what the ingredients are by looking it up on the Internet.’
This is an industry I’ve called home for 25 years and during that timeframe, it’s changed radically — moving from a very mechanical, hands-on process to where many organizations are adopting an e-commerce platform.
Today’s print companies are diversifying their business offerings and at the same time, are looking at how they can push for more automation. From what I see, the adoption of automation is not something people are scared of, it’s something they want to embrace. This [mindset] will allow us to be much more competitive and be on the cutting edge.
This Q&A was originally published in the July/August 2018 issue of PrintAction, now available online.
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