Finishing equipment manufacturer Horizon held an event in Kyoto, Japan, to preview ‘smart factory’ developments, many of which will be formally launched at drupa 2020, including the company’s iCe Link workflow automation software, and the deployment of automated guided vehicles.

Called ‘Think Smart Factory’, the mid-November event featured Horizon plus a number of software developers, digital press manufacturers and complementary finishing equipment suppliers. According to Jason Seaber, technical sales director at Horizon’s UK distributor IFS, a total attendance of around 2500 was recorded for the three-day event, of which some 500 were international visitors; around a dozen UK printers attended as guests of IFS and made ‘very positive’ comments about what they saw.

The exhibition-style event featured a number of complete order-to-delivery workflows, with a wide variety of live demonstrations of finishing and binding processes for specific print products using current and forthcoming Horizon equipment, linked by the new Cloud-based iCe Link workflow. Mr Seaber told Digital Printer that iCeLink would be built into a number of new Horizon machines and available as a retro-fit for some existing ones. It provides access to an intuitive dashboard, real-time production monitoring, scheduling tools, performance analysis and remote assistance capabilities. It will supersede Horizon’s existing pXnet software, which has to be installed separately. Existing pXnet customers will continue to be supported, however.

The information is accessible via smartphone, tablet or desktop PC and the software is designed for integration with MIS systems to extract JDF and print data, while feeding back JMF data on job status; the pricing structure has not yet been defined but it is likely that a subscription model will be used, as is the case with most Cloud-based software.

The various demonstrations included Resologic PriBiz web-to-print and J-Spirits PrintSapiens MIS software variously feeding jobs to a Screen TruepressJet 520 NX web-fed inkjet with a Hunkeler cutter and Horizon folder feeding book blocks to a BQ480 4-clamp binder while covers printed on a Ricoh Pro C7200 cut-sheet toner press were added, with full tracking of signatures and covers, to produce educational books. Cards and rugby tickets were also produced on the Ricoh press via an inline SmartSlitter with an input buffer to keep up with the press and barcode reading for job confirmation to match set-up via the iCe Link software.

Other products in production at the event included photo books produced on a Konica Minolta KM-1 B2 cut-sheet inkjet via a Horizon SmartStacker, books and comics printed on a Fuji-Xerox Iridesse toner press via Fujifilm Production Cockpit software, plus a Canon C910 cut-sheet to perfect-bound book with flap cover via a robot loading arm for the Horizon BQ270V landscape A4 binder and the new single-bladed HT300 three-sided trimmer that can allow for the cover flaps.

Pre-printed web-fed print from Canon Océ and Ricoh high speed inkjets was shown being fed to a Stitchliner 6000 Digital saddle-stitcher via a Tecnau unwinder, while direct mail products handled via Hunkeler unwinder and buckle folder were fed to a Horizon folder/stacker; Horizon’s RD4055 rotary die-cutter was also demonstrated producing playing cards and small cartons.