Star product: Bobst Mobile Portal

This app provides information 24/7, enabling users to track problems as and when they occur. The manufacturer is calling it a breakthrough

What is it and when was it launched?

Bobst Mobile Portal was launched at Drupa in May is an app for smart phones and tablets that remotely monitors machines and displays key production data. "It is aimed at production managers, production supervisors, production directors, owners – anyone who needs to see how their plant is performing on a machine by machine basis," says Mike Rice, Bobst UK regional service manager for Ireland and Scandinavia.

What does it do?
The app gives access to cloud-based data that is stored on Bobst’s Connect Portal, an internet-based monitoring service. Connect Portal is currently a way in which printers can access in-depth data about machine performance from desktop computers and by which Bobst engineers currently provide remote service and maintenance to customers.

The app takes access to this information on the move for the first time. On the smart phone app, information including whether a machine is running, how long it has been running for, its speed, and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) can be viewed. It can then drill down further into that data and display more detailed information.

Bobst says that the tablet version shows an even deeper level of detail, enabling users to track production historically over days, weeks and months. This information is displayed in easy to understand formats, says Rice.

"It is a highly customisable system that can present reports in numerous ways on multiple subjects. For example, you could have a graph showing production speeds over the past three months," he explains.

How does it work?
With the app, you can monitor a single machine or multiple machines. Any Bobst machine built within the last 10-15 years is connectable, but any non-Bobst machine would need an extra bit of kit.

"Non-Bobst machines would have to have the Bobst Connect Box installed, which connects that machine remotely through a secure connection to the app," says Rice.

Once you’ve got all the machines linked up, the Bobst Control Box sends the information to the software system, which combines the information with data from the company’s management information system. It then sends the combined data to a virtual ‘cloud’ via a secure connection.

It is compatible with all commonly used information interchanges, including JDF and XML, says Bobst.

What is its USP?
"Having information 24/7 and being able to do something about problems as you see them happen on the machine is a real breakthrough in machine monitoring," says Rice.

He claims that there is no other product on the market that works in this specific way, and so describe it as a breakthrough for printers in all sectors.

How easy is it to use?"It is very easy to use," says Rice. "It’s as simple as downloading the app – you need Connect Portal in the back-end, but we do that for you if you don’t have it. It will cause no hassle or complication for the printer themselves."

How much is it and how many users are currently using the app?
The app is only £2.99 but obviously a lot of the cost will come from the back-end software and hardware. Bobst says most of the current range of Bobst machines have the Connect Box already built in, so they need nothing more. The price of the app is all you would have to spend. Older and non-Bobst machines will need the Connect Box installed, however, and possibly an interface – the cost of which will depend on make and model, says Bobst.

As for current users, there are none currently, but Rice says. "Although we premiered the app at Drupa 2012, we have only just begun to talk to potential users about it. Our remote machine diagnostics service is already used by customers in 48 countries, so we expect that clients will start adopting this app pretty soon, once we show them its many benefits."


Currently only on iOS devices (iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch with iOS 4.3 or newer). An Android version is expected to be available by the end of end of
the year Price £2.99 via Apple’s App Store

Though not direct alternatives, these apps also offer shopfloor data monitoring

EFI Fiery XF Mobile Client
The mobile solution for the EFI XF Server, the app enables access and monitoring capability for your XF Server, workflows, printers and print job status on your Apple iPhone. Key features allow you to preview jobs and monitor job status, print and delete jobs and monitor servers, workflows and printer device statuses.
Compatability The latest XF Server (version 4.1 or higher) must be up and running to log in with the Fiery XF Mobile Client. The Fiery XF Mobile Client was developed and tested for the iPhone, but should be compatible with iPod Touch and the iPad.

Heidelberg Prinect Mobile
Launched two years ago, Prinect Mobile is designed to operate with the Apple iPhone and android devices. It allows the user to view pre-press, press and post-press equipment and, in the latest version, scheduling. This tool provides the user with a snapshot of activity in real time, enabling them to remotely access information on individual jobs or shift analysis.
Compatability Prinect only. A link is made between the mobile device and the Prinect server. No other software supported.
Free with the ‘Analyse Point’ module of Prinect Pressroom Manager, but not available on the App Store. The mobile is configured via a web portal and an icon is "added to the Home screen". A Prinect logo is created on the user’s home screen. Once unlocked, the link can be accessed by as many users as the Prinect owner requires, without cost.