Print Perspectives

The ABCs of AI

A primer on artificial intelligence and how it can help your print business

September 08, 2020

Artificial intelligence

You may not realize it, but artificial intelligence (AI) is all around you. In your everyday life, smart assistants like the Amazon Alexa or Google Home use AI to create to-do lists, order items online, set reminders, and answer questions based on voice commands. In the transportation industry there are self-driving cars which leverage AI to sense their environments and move without human interference. In manufacturing, high-performing robots are now able to work faster and more efficiently than humans—working for long periods of time and using 3D technology and machine vision to speed up manufacturing processes.

What is artificial intelligence?

At its core, artificial intelligence is a collection of different technologies working together to enable machines to sense, learn and act with human-like levels of intelligence. According to Robots Business Review, AI has been around since 1943 when Alan Turing invented the “Turing test” which set the bar for an intelligent machine: a computer that could trick someone into thinking they were talking to a real person. The term “artificial intelligence” was officially coined in 1956 and the concept has evolved considerably since then. When combined with “big data,” it already has practical, real-world applications in many industries.

What does AI have to do with print?

With AI, a print service provider can use data about its business and how it operates to make better decisions—revealing and capitalizing on opportunities to cut costs, streamline processes, and reduce waste. Essentially, AI can turn a print shop into a “smart factory” overnight.

AI and AI-like solutions are already being used in the print industry:

  • Predictive maintenance of presses or CtP devices
  • Robotic process automation to deliver paper to presses or move printed rolls / stacks to finishing or palletize finished goods for shipment
  • Real-time press adjustments to compensate for web (paper) drift caused by asymmetric random job content

The most significant application for AI in print is workflow software. Kodak’s PRINERGY Software was originally built on an Oracle database which gathers data constantly from jobs being prepared for production. The concept of an AI-powered workflow was expanded with Kodak’s cloud-based On Demand Platform which can tell printers how much ink they’re using, how many jobs they’re processing, which types of jobs are the most profitable (or problematic), and more—using dynamic optimization strategies and shared insights. So printers can make more informed, better decisions about their operations.

Why AI is more important now than ever

In today’s printing environment, turnaround times are getting faster, margins are getting thinner, automation is becoming a greater priority and customization is growing in popularity. These trends have all been accelerated by COVID-19. AI helps address these trends by using data to help streamline the workflow, maximize cost-efficiency and allow printers to push the boundaries of customization with digital print. Adopting AI and “smart factory” automation strategies can help printers adapt to evolving customer demands and emerge from the crisis one step ahead of competitors and positioned for success in the future. For more information about how AI can make your printing workflow work smarter, contact a Kodak representative.