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In Dortmund, yesterday's computing future as backdrop for talking print shop

It was all about enabling print shops to provide more and better service through digitalisation at the print industry meetup on 15 November in Dortmund, hosted by Zaikio and Antalis. Thomas Karcher, head of printing company Butz & Bürker in Karlsruhe, held a keynote about his modernisation journey up until now - and shared both moments of frustration and euphoria.

Thomas Karcher spontaneously decided to speak freely about his experiences with digitalisation rather using his prepared presentation. Like realising, at Drupa 2016, that all the software in the world could not save him if he didn't at first identify the problems and weak points in his processes. Only then would it make sense to look for a suitable solution. How he started to make his print shop more efficient with small automations. How he tried to solve everything with Excel and then realised how well Zaikio's MIS Keyline fits his ideas. 

Today, Butz & Bürker's processes are largely digitalised and customer service is greatly improved. This was also urgently needed as “today you earn money through services, not through printing itself” as Karcher explained, to broad approval in the audience.

These days, cooperation is key
Sebastian Krüger and Thomas Ahlrichs from Zaikio summed up the situation in the printing industry with a quote from former German president Gustav Heinemann: “Those who want to change nothing will go on to lose what they wanted to preserve”. The Zaikio digitisation duo, which has a few decades of print shop experience between them, urged the 43 participants to embrace change. It won't work without clear decisions, they said: “Yes, time flies – but you are at the helm, determining the course.”

More interaction and collaboration is needed between printers, customers, manufacturers, and suppliers, they said. This requires smart processes and interoperability between software and machines. The time of stand-alone solutions and data silos is gone for good. 

What's already possible and what's coming soon
Benjamin Sajovitz from Antalis explained what print shops can already work with, using the example of the purchasing software Zaikio Procurement. “The secure and reliable transmission of paper orders and related information saves customers a lot of time, compared to ordering by phone or email. They can thus redirect resources to activities that create greater value.”

The upcoming Zaikio Mission Control will take the collaboration of people, software, and machines to a whole new level. It allows printers to ensure that relevant data from all systems in-house and beyond that are involved in the printing process is made available to any other system at the right time. 

In addition, Mission Control visualises the status of all jobs, work steps and machines. This provides printers with a bird's-eye view of their production. It also enables them to see the status of individual jobs immediately. And it makes it easy to identify bottlenecks and other problems. 

Digitisation is on everyone's mind
Thomas Karcher was in high demand for conversations after his presentation. “The strong interest in digital topics clearly shows what concerns the industry. In talking to colleagues, it becomes clear that the challenges are pretty similar. Events like this meetup thus enable us all to exchange ideas and move forward more quickly.”

A fitting location
The Binarium, a Museum for Digital Culture, served as the backdrop for the Meetup. In the museum, the audience can dive into the history of home computers and game consoles, to the delight of those present at the meetup. Located in an industrial monument that is part of the Hansa coking plant shut down in 1980, the museum is emblematic of the Ruhr region's transformation into towards the knowledge economy.

More Meetups planned for 2023
The autumn meetup organised by Zaikio and Antalis was the second in a series that already proves successful, after the inaugural event on 19 July in the historic Benz factory in Ladenburg. Further events are already being planned.
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