The show goes on as a new era of leadership begins at EFI.
Above: New EFI CEO Bill Muir kicks off Connect during the event’s opening session.
Some of the many output samples on display at Connect
Connect offered numerous opportunities to meet with peers and other production and industrial print professionals.
Never underestimate a company that can attract more than 1,000 users to a user conference””and that’s not counting all the partners exhibiting in the exhibit areas or the 100-plus press and analysts from 25 different companies attending, as well as EFI employees. There’s a lot to take in at a Connect conference, and this year was no different, even if it was the first Connect without former CEO Guy Gecht hosting the event. Here are my 10 takeaways from EFI Connect 2019.
- EFI Connect is still the ultimate user conference. Arguably, the print and imaging industry’s premier user conference, EFI Connect is a conference in form, content, and attendance whereby all other user conferences should be measured. Admittedly, we attend some top-notch user conferences with top-level content, including Canon THINK, but in terms of scope and size, nothing compares to EFI Connect. The Cannata Report has been covering this conference, now in its 20th year, since 2000. EFI does a tremendous job of balancing education and entertainment in presenting its message from new product announcements to a state of the printing industry overview, to customers describing how they work with the company and its products. We must also acknowledge the VIP treatment press and analysts receive, including four hours of presentations by EFI executives geared specifically to us, as well as an exclusive dinner with EFI executives.
- The debut of new CEO Bill Muir. This was the first Connect with a new CEO as former CEO Guy Gecht stepped down from that role last fall when Muir assumed the role. Muir did a nice job of introducing himself to attendees during his keynote address. He also made a favorable impression during his Fireside Chat with Joe Popolo, CEO of The Freeman Company, an EFI customer and business partner. Gecht excelled in those Fireside Chats, and if one didn’t know better, they might have thought Gecht was a member of the press attending the event. No one expects Muir to be a carbon copy of Gecht, and he certainly has his own style. We look forward to seeing what his impact will be on the company going forward. It may have been too early to throw Muir to the wolves (the press and analysts covering the event), but we were disappointed not to hear from him during our private briefing “”a briefing where Gecht always made an appearance. We did have an opportunity to briefly meet him later that evening in a more social setting during our dinner.
- Wide, they do it. Between the VUTEk machines and the Regianni presses, EFI is a company that puts the wide in wide-format printing. One of the more notable introductions was the latest high-volume”¯hybrid LED printer from EFI, the VUTEk h5. This 126-inch wide printer can run up to 109 boards per hour and offers eight-color and optional four-color printing modes plus white, as well as an up to nine-layer print capability. The VUTEk devices such as this represent the core of EFI’s product line and are one of the driving forces behind the company’s success. Strolling through the exhibit floor one could see other wide-format devices, including such products as the”¯EFI”¯Pro 24f”¯flatbed and”¯Pro 32r”¯roll-to-roll LED printers in action, along with the”¯EFI”¯VUTEk 3r+, LED roll-to-roll printer. Attendees also had an opportunity to check out EFI’s latest introduction for the expanding soft-signage market: the”¯EFI VUTEk FabriVU”¯340i, an aqueous dispersed dye-sublimation printer.
- Regaled by Reggiani. Adele Genoni, vice president and general manager at EFI Reggiani, presented a Reggiani update and roadmap during the press and analyst briefing, emphasizing how digital technology is leading the way in the textile market. Genoni revealed the company’s plan is to maintain leadership in performance, offer extended printing quality and super-high productivity, focus on full green processes, and offer a wider range of proprietary inks for its products. She also spoke extensively about one of the latest high-profile products, the EFI Reggiani BOLT, which outputs on fabrics up to 90 m/min.
- Industrial print opportunities are everywhere. We are not the only ones who think that’s true. And who knows better than EFI, considering it has a footprint in so many different segments of industrial print? EFI Vice President and General Manager Jose Luis Ramon Moreno cited some of those opportunities, including with ceramics, while providing press and analysts with an industrial inkjet update. Some of the trends he noted that are driving the market are online ordering, the increasing number of unique jobs, customization and personalization, manufacturing on-demand, tighter operations and business management, and distributed manufacturing, which can shorten distances within the supply chain.
- Seeing is believing. Virtual reality demos of the VUTEk HS125 Pro printer and Nozomi Ci80000 press were fascinating and allowed attendees to see these devices operate in real-world environments.
- A full class load. One reason for attending Connect is for the breakout sessions, and there were more than 180 at this year’s event. Although those sessions tend to target users, a dealer attending the conference could also gain a better understanding of the market and customers by attending those sessions.
- Still on Fiery. What’s an EFI Connect without something new to report on its premier product? EFI continues to make enhancements to its legacy technology and what is arguably the print industry’s leading controller. During a press and analyst briefing, we were introduced to the EFI Fiery FS350 Pro software by John Henze, vice president of Fiery marketing and sales. The product was also demoed on the showroom floor. The new Fiery is equipped with new features that enhance color and imaging reproduction and provides new management tools and connectivity. The new DFEs based on EFI Fiery FS350 Pro software can be used with digital printers and presses from several manufacturers, across sheetfed, high-speed continuous feed, B1 folding carton, and corrugated digital-production systems, including both toner and inkjet technologies. EFI reported that Canon will be the first of the OEMs to launch a new DFE featuring Fiery FS350 Pro.
- EFI continues to roll with the workflow. Managing workflow is a necessity in the industrial and production-print worlds, and a host of new workflow solutions were introduced at Connect. Among the new workflow solutions EFI introduced at the conference was Version 7 of the”¯EFI”¯Packaging Suite”¯with streamlined web-to-print re-ordering and improved tools for managing flexible packaging within the Suite’s shop-floor data collection component. The EFI”¯Corrugated Packaging Suite’s new version includes a product builder interface for estimating multipart sets, a browser interface for production planning, digital print and preprint estimating, and scheduling and data collection tools. The EFI”¯Enterprise Commercial Print Suite”¯for large and multiplant commercial print operations was also announced. This solution offers new import product specification tools that significantly reduce the time needed to estimate and schedule new jobs, according to EFI. The latest version of EFI”¯Publication Print Suite, Version 7, simplifies the process for incorporating contract pricing on jobs.
- Howdy partners! You can tell a lot about someone by the company it keeps. EFI partners exhibiting included Ricoh and Xerox (both of which also served as sponsors), as well as Duplo, Kodak, Konica Minolta, MBM Corporation, RISO, and 3M””all companies familiar to readers of The Cannata Report. One could also find 11 other companies exhibiting their prepress automation tools, finishing solutions, workflow solutions, and textile media.
Examples of packaging output
A fashion show highlighting the possibilities of textile printing
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