The sign and digital print industry is changing, but which course will it – you – choose?
Paul Niedermeyer, on his curb-side classic blog, tells of how the grandmotherly 1960 Ford Falcon chassis was carried over to the ’65 Mustang series, the Mercury Cougar, the Ford Fairlane, the Ranchero pickup and at least a dozen other succeeding Ford vehicles. The 85-hp Falcon was an American-made alternative to the newly imported and increasingly popular 36-hp Volkswagen Beetle, and Ford’s ingenious carryover of the chassis reduced the development cost of other, later-introduced models.
Today, similarly, GM’s Epsilon platform (its mid-size, front-wheel drive set) is shared by the Chevrolet Impala, the Buick LaCrosse and the Cadillac XTS. The Epsilon framework also appears in Opel, Fiat, Saab and Buick Riviera vehicles and, like the Ford Falcon platform, similar Epsilon sets underpin many other GM vehicles.
Activist Antonio Gramsci, in the 1920’s, titled such manufacturing progressions as “Fordisms.” The term described the technological manufacturing “beginnings” that advanced business and national prosperity. Henry Ford, of course, invented the assembly line, which utilized then-modern advances, but only because others, such as Thomas Edison, were also producing high-tech systems. In his book “Out of Ashes”, Konrad H. Jarausch describes Fordism as “prosperity advanced not only by technical inventions but also by greater efficiency in manufacturing, which lowered prices and made products accessible to a wider public.”
Such progressions are dominant in the sign industry. They relate to past practices, but also to the high-tech present. For example, Fabien Papleux, global IoT director, Accenture, in a recent Denver talk, said continuous engineering – Fordisms – address the ever-present need to rethink, redesign, reintegrate and re-innovate products and systems. He said continuous product improvement allows engineers to eliminate the costs of unnecessary reinvention, along with high downstream costs, while taking advantage of cross-discipline decision-making and collaboration, like the Ford Falcon’s well-travelled chassis, or the tweaks and innovations we’re seeing in the digital print field today. Think fabric printing, dye sublimation and other innovative print-imaging processes that initiated, like the modest Falcon founding the Ford Mustang, from unassuming parents.
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