Rapida ProductionApp for inventory management and consumables tracking via smartphone

Tried and tested at Schur Pack Germany

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Blanket change on a Rapida 145: the blanket is registered by app on the printing unit on which it is used and its service life can be precisely tracked and planned
Blanket change on a Rapida 145: the blanket is registered by app on the printing unit on which it is used and its service life can be precisely tracked and planned

Schur Pack Germany installed three automated medium and large-format Rapida presses in 2015, when it built a completely new packaging plant in Gallin. Since the end of last year the company has been a pilot user of one of the Rapida LiveApps. The ProductionApp takes over the complete warehouse management in the company as well as the batch tracking required for the printing of food packaging. You can see here for other warehouses around you which are experts in storing, packing and shipping. At the production facility, the inks were tracked, a whole range of additional products such as varnishes, dampening solution additives, rubber coatings, oil, filter mats, rake lips, Vaseline and coating defoamers were added. The same goes for plate developers in prepress.

Readily accepted among press operators

The ProductionApp is simple and easy to use. Schur Pack’s non-smartphone users in the 50+ age group can also use the app comfortably. As soon as the smartphone (that went for a service at prophonerepairs.com — iPhone repair service) is held over an NFC tag in the warehouse or at the press, the camera scans the code or corresponding field for entries. All data is recorded as it is delivered, which has greatly increased acceptance. The press crew also sees the app as a great help as it is no longer necessary to write down the products used.

Schur Pack Germany currently has 121 NFC tags in use. Around 80 tags are at the presses and around 40 are in the warehouse. In addition to these products, the company expects a great deal more to be integrated into the process.

The same tags are used for some products. The best example of this are the company’s 3,000 inks that are managed on a single day of storage. It is possible to track them as the name of the product is also read along with the batch number.

Use of commercially available smartphones

Schur Pack Germany currently uses five Samsung S6 with Qi charging technology for warehouse management and batch tracking. One at each press, one in the warehouse and one in the department managers office. In future, a mobile phone will be stationed at each storage location.

Michael Verch, head of printing at Schur Pack Germany, says, “€300 per phone is cheaper than any barcode scanner.” He aims to purchase a simple Tablet PC for around €200 to have a permanent overview of inventory with all live data available at his desk.

Automated information

The advantages of the ProductionApp can clearly be seen in the inventory statistics. The manufacturer’s eMail address for each product can be stored by Schur Pack Germany. When a minimum stock level is reached, not only does the central purchasing department receive the information, but the supplier can also receive advance information on what needs to be delivered in the near future.

Pre- and post-tracking of consumables

The shelf life and usability of each article can be determined. Automatic pre- and post-batch tracking is also possible. Its more than just a simple assignment of the consumables used for the respective print jobs.

Especially when printing food packaging, the ProductionApp allows exact information on the inks, coatings, printing aids and other consumables used to be retrieved at the touch of a button. This provides reassurance for manufacturers and retailers as well as for consumers.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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