“Digital products are the key to increasing productivity in today’s printshops.” – Ralf Sammeck, CDO (left), and Sandra Wagner, Vice President Digitalisation (center), in conversation with Dagmar Ringel, Director Corporate Communications & Marketing (right)

A Sneak Peek Ahead of drupa: Digitalisation

Interview with Ralf Sammeck, CDO Koenig & Bauer, and Sandra Wagner, Vice President Digitalisation. Dagmar Ringel, Director Corporate Communications, asks just how digital the printing industry can become, and which opportunities this offers.

Read time: approx. 5 minutes

Mr Sammeck, why is digitalisation more important than ever for the printing industry? What can digitalisation achieve in this area?

Ralf Sammeck: Digital products are the key to increasing productivity in today’s printshops. This has been clear to us and customers all over the world for a long time, which is why we have directed a keen focus on it. The key factor is systematic and target-specific evaluation of data that we generate and save on our production lines using sensors, log files and pre-press information. Artificial intelligence and self-learning systems enable us to analyse these volumes of data productively, translating them into increased productivity for our customers. This means minimising machine downtime, reducing waste and improving the carbon footprint of every single printed product.

Ms Wagner, the Digital Unit at Koenig & Bauer was established more than two years ago. What has happened since then? What have been your successes so far?

Sandra Wagner: The first two years have flown by and a lot really has happened. Designing, implementing and marketing digital products is so fundamentally different from our traditional core business that we first had to build up a team of experts with the appropriate skills. The Digital Unit operates like an independent start-up within the Group – using the modern methods and agile work methods of a software company. Working hand in hand with our IT experts, we also created the necessary technical infrastructure for the implementation, data processing and hosting of our products – because production is now all about data. One genuine market success that we have achieved so far is the establishment of our VisuEnergy X energy management system, which optimally exploits the technological potential of digitalisation, particularly in terms of achieving climate targets. Customers reduce their production costs and achieve their sustainability goals – all on the basis of data transparency. We’ll be showcasing other groundbreaking digital products for greater efficiency, performance and sustainability at drupa. So watch this space!

Where will the journey take us? How digital can the printing industry become?

Ralf Sammeck: A lot has happened in the past few years. Even so, there’s still potential for development in terms of how the printing industry can operate even more digitally in future. With our Digital Unit, we’ve not only created a good basis for this, but have also made considerable progress on the road to digitalisation. But we can’t wait to put into practice the many other ideas we’ve got in mind. Areas that harbour particular potential for digitalisation are networking of the entire workflow – from incoming orders to pre-press, the printing itself and finishing, and delivery to brand owners. As a system provider, we can offer our customers end-to-end solutions, and together with our partners we enable seamless networking of software and machines. This creates real value for our customers. For Koenig & Bauer, however, digitalisation means much more than just printing and finishing. It starts with job data and print data, includes ripping in pre-press, and goes all the way to the finished product within our continuous workflow. But that’s still not all. Our VisuEnergy X energy management system gives our customers transparency over the entire energy consumption levels in their factory – from the printing press to the coffee machine. Knowing this enables them to identify potential savings and take appropriate action.

Sandra Wagner: Print and digital are two complete opposites, you might think. Our customers live from printing and print products, so they are, by definition, analogue. But in fact, that misses the point. What digital technologies are fundamentally changing is how print products are designed, produced and experienced. From data transparency that improves decisions and increases efficiency, to artificial intelligence that helps operating personnel do their job, to enhancing an analogue print product with digital elements – the possibilities are diverse and far from exhausted. In future, our digital products will extend beyond the traditional core area of support for our customers within print production. The merging of print and digital creates innovative opportunities that enable us to combine the best of both worlds and offer our customers even more powerful solutions.

What can visitors to drupa look forward to when it comes to digitalisation?

Ralf Sammeck: We’ve turned our digital visions into reality. That’s not as simple as it sounds, because we had to think in completely new business models. But success has proven us right. At drupa, we’ll be showing a number of new products and services that our customers can purchase – if they want – right now. With myKyana, we’re also introducing a digital portal for our customers. They can use it to access their machine data, to quickly and easily purchase and manage digital products, to keep an eye on the performance of their machines – and use all this as a basis to consistently make the best-informed decisions. As you can see, the printing industry is constantly changing and developing. And that’s exactly what you’ll see at drupa. 

Sandra Wagner: This is the Digital Unit’s first drupa, which means it’s a great opportunity. With it being eight years since the fair last took place, the entire industry is anticipating groundbreaking innovations. Although most have already recognised the key role of digital transformation for the future of the industry and their companies, they might not yet know exactly what its specific implementation might look like. Visitors can look forward to fascinating live shows and information about our range of digital products. Some people may already have heard about Kyana. Kyana is the digital intelligence from Koenig & Bauer. And at drupa 2024, Kyana will be finally able show its full potential for the first time. And this is just the beginning of a new universe of possibilities.

We look forward to seeing you at our stand A31 in Hall 16. Koenig & Bauer will be represented at numerous events and forums during drupa. On the subject of digitalisation, for example, a panel including Dr Andreas Pleßke, CEO of Koenig & Bauer, will be discussing “Digital Solutions – The Enabler for Sustainability” at the touchpoint for packaging (Hall 14) on 28 May from 4 pm on. On 5 June from 4.30 pm on, you can see Sandra Wagner, VP Digitalisation at Koenig & Bauer, at the touchpoint for packaging (Hall 3) discussing “Printing goes Metaverse”. Other interesting events can be found here.