Agfa introduces robotic plate loader to automate prepress

Streamlines speed and speeds up printers' prepress operations

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Agfa
Agfa introduces a plate loading robot that streamlines and speeds up printers’ prepress operations, while reducing the overall cost

Agfa’s robotic plate loader frees prepress staff from heavy manual, repetitive tasks such as plate loading cassettes of autoloaders, or fixing pallets on the base frame of skid loaders. “Heatset printers usually have multiple presses with different sizes, and therefore multiple CTP lines. Linked to that come so-called Combo loading configurations, each consisting of a pallet loader and autoloader. The robotic plate loader replaces both configurations, reducing footprint by up to 30%, and making prepress operations more efficient and productive,” says Iris Bogunovic, Product manager Plate & CTP Systems at Agfa.

In the first phase, Agfa offers its plate loading robot to printing companies using its Avalon VLF platesetters. The robot is custom-built according to a printer’s exact needs and can simultaneously feed multiple plate production lines with a picking speed of up to 80 printing plates per hour, independent of plate size. The set-up is especially convenient for printers that need to handle multiple (up to five) plate sizes. For optimal ease of use, the plate loading robot is fully integrated with Agfa’s Apogee workflow software.

Leading Scandinavian printed marketing solutions provider Stibo Complete is an early adopter of Agfa’s robotic plate loader. As the company’s strategy for the future includes a whole range of investments, as well as acquisitions of companies, one of the conditions for its success is the configuration of its print business to handle more output with fewer resources. The investment in Agfa’s new state-of-the-art plate loading robot supports their journey perfectly.

“Automation is important in the strategy of any growing and forward-looking company,” says Svend Erik Grue Nielsen, Operations and Development manager at Stibo Complete. “Agfa’s robot plate loader gives us a competitive edge as it improves our productivity, reduces costs, minimizes mistakes, and optimizes working conditions for our employees. Our plate loading robot saves employees from approximately 230 tonnes of heavy lifting per year.”

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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