Print 4.0

Print 4.0 I hear you moan, what happened to Print 2.0 and where did Print 3.0 go! When recently asked about Print 4.0, I was taken aback as I really thought the “number.point.oh” thing was an overused marketing fad long lost in history, however using my trusty assistant Ms Google and a few hours of hard work it seems no, we really getting ready for Print 4.0 it is just we may know it as something else entirely!

The previous technology milestones of print were digital (it used to be terrible and unable to provide a solid colour), the rollout of the Internet (remember we had to unplug the phone), the engines that power the processing at Server level (slow loading of pages) not to mention the education and confidence of people using online platforms as which are now more the norm that not (security).

The pandemic has changed us, the Internet has grown up, rapidly within its shadow and we have run to it with gusto and more online ordering of “stuff”, business essentials and lots of face time with various meeting applications. We now know why we have that 200Mb broadband, and it’s still not enough. The Internet has changed the way we work, and we are embracing it, life as we once knew it would never be the same – so how does this encompass print and explain Print 4.0?

In essence “Print 4.0” is what we already have. It is just putting it together in a workable logical way for it to do what we want it to do – whatever that may be! It is in essence workflow working correctly to meet both our and our customer expectations with key integration where needed. In 2018 global research company McKinsey stated that 40-50% of machines needed to be replaced in manufacturing in order to keep up in general industry, but in print; presses are needed to be updated as standard as technology advances. Print 4.0 is getting these presses working both together and with other elements in a more integrated fashion. The advantages are huge both time, cost and more importantly, profitability. What we are talking about here is efficiency, joining up the dots to work better, true automation. Print 4.0 is not the new stuff in the process but the connection of what you have to be something better, giving real-time results (and more profit!).

Why now! Presently we are reasonably quiet, if your on furlough at the time of writing this with the sun out great but people in print sales and production should not be resting, now is the time to get automated, do the things you need to do to be more automated, make that workflow better and be ready. I only heard the term “loud marketing” two weeks ago, but since then I have never stopped hearing it – quarters 3 & 4 of this year are going to be loud as people have been penned in for months and business are keen to burst out and make some money. Loud Marketing is the release of the valve that has us all stuck at home and not doing what we do naturally – socialise. Print needs to be ready, and if you have prepared and made yourself ready you are more able to embrace what is to come, more jobs/work/orders – more of which will be online and more of which will benefit from the automation of some kind even if it is just re-keying in the same data from one system to another (Print 4.0).

We cannot really predict the future, despite some believing that Covid-19 was very likely to happen very few believed or were informed enough about it to make a decision unless you worked in a wet market deep in Wuhan.

Covid-19 has changed the way we work and indeed the Internet, but there are winners and losers as loyalty is transferrable and what we have now is the new normal. Print (Industry) 4.0 / Marketing 4.0; call it what you wish but never has there been a time to be more ready to embrace what is to come when the new normal kicks in.

Kelvin Bell, Sales Director, Vpress Ltd


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