Hunkeler Innovationdays – Big Data needs Big Machines

Posted on by Tony Hodgson | No Comments »

Every two years in Luzern in Switzerland an unusual trade show takes place – the Hunkeler Innovationdays. It is a 5-day event with a single focus on high-end finishing applications on digital presses. I travelled from London to snow-bound Luzern for the event last month along with five thousand other visitors from all over the world.

The Hunkeler Innovationdays is unique amongst the ever-evolving and rapidly fragmenting world of printing equipment trade shows. Many of the major digital printing vendors now run their own customer events to which they invite “partners” to exhibit relevant add-ons to their solutions. Hunkeler is such a partner that makes “Paper Processing Systems”, as they call the finishing lines which plug in to the back-ends of digital and offset presses. But because they partner with just about every major vendor, they invite the vendors to come to their show in Luzern.

There were 70 exhibition partners demonstrating 30 live production lines for high-end transpromo, direct mail and book printing applications. Hunkeler_Innovationdays_2013Hunkeler makes the event a level playing field for their major partners like Canon, HP, Kodak, Ricoh, Xeikon and Xerox. Each gets a same-size pen in the exhibition hall with just a simple same-size logo to display on the back wall. No fancy booths with laser lights and dancing girls on show here.

There is an intensive focus on the applications but it is all very physical and real. This is not a show with virtual displays or future concepts. It’s very much about kicking the tires of the heavy-duty machinery of the digital printing industry. It is so compact that visitors can easily make direct comparisons between each vendor’s solutions.

And it is very sociable. The Hunkeler Innovationdays event has gained a deserved reputation as a lively networking and meeting place. Next to the single exhibition hall is what can best be described as a huge works canteen. With free food and refreshments available from the self-service hatches all day, the rows of tables and chairs were packed from 9 to 5.

CloudPrint_2013_SpeakerThe Hunkeler Innovationdays also hosted various seminar programmes and conference days. PODi in Europe teamed up with the European Business Document Association to put on a half-day series of seminars on Cloud Computing and Printing – a topic which we don’t think has been directly addressed before but which absolutely reflected the Innovation theme that Hunkeler aims to inspire. We covered cutting edge technologies like RIPing in the Cloud and a new print on demand service built entirely in the Cloud. We also shared some of the insights of the recent PODi survey about the take up, uses and perceptions of digital print service providers on Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service. The presentations are free for anyone to download from www.cloudprint2013.com.

The main lesson I took from the Hunkeler Innovationdays 2013 is that the potential benefits from digital printing that PODi has evangelised about for years are now achievable on a truly grand industrial scale. The applications on show featured highly personalised relevant marketing, on-demand printing of books, automated workflows for consumer photobooks and customised greetings cards and data-driven, white paper transpromo and transactional printing. Hunkeler Innovationdays is the place where “Big Data” meets big reels of paper.

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