Author Archive

  • Graphics Grab Bag – this week in printing

    Grab Bag – definition: a miscellaneous collection: a potpourri.

    Welcome to the inaugural issue of Graphics Grab Bag, a weekly record of engagements and observations from an observer curious about the printing industry here and around the world.

    The big news this week was the Visual Impact show at Olympic Park, Sydney. The sold out show was a testimony to Peter Harper’s belief in the format and persistence in bringing it into being. Peter (above) is the GM Visual Connections, the graphic merchant’s association that runs the events. He’s now the sole GM or will be soon, when Karen Goldsmith leaves at the end of the month.

    I spent a couple of days at the show, trying not to get between sales people manning the stands and their prospects. It’s not something a wise person will do.

    Good to meet David Currie at the ‘big truck,’ always has the largest exhibition stand at these shows. He was chatting with a revived Steve Dunwell, back from a hiatus after finishing with manroland last year. No title on his Currie business card but he says his wife wants him out of the house. He’s helping young Will Currie at the NSW office. Welcome back Steve.


    1st-day sale: Martin Stacher with Sharlene Sach, Kissell+Wolf

    Honours for making the first-day sale at the show went to Martin Stacher of Kissel + Wolf, formerly known as Kiwo. He sold a Mutoh ValueJet 626UF to Melbourne printers CMC Gold, setting the tone for what I believe was a good transactional show. Clever inkjet machine the Mutoh compact unit is being used in shopping centres to print on anything and everything: wood, cups, plastic etc.

    Russell Cavenagh, the new GM of Mutoh holds great hopes for the prize-winning printer.


    Cameron McLachlan gets ready to fly with bon voyage from IanParkinson & Sylene Poncet.

    Across the way the cheers were ringing out as contestant’s battled it out in a wraparound ring. The Hexis people hosted the competition for best wrap artist to cover a 3-D boarding pass with shrink-wrap. Cameron McLachlan from Gold Coast Wraps beat off some strong competition. He won a 5-day trip to France to visit Hexis HQ in Montpelier. He was presented with the boarding pass by Sylene Poncet who flew here for the occasion and Ian Parkinson, managing director Hexis Australia.

    Talk about stoked.


    At Print Promotion in the Marriott, Pitt Street: Peter Scott, managing director Screen Australia, Dr Markus Heering VDMA and Scott Telfer, Customer CX.

    Away from the show, the German VDMA Print Promotion caravan rolled through Melbourne and Sydney on Monday and Tuesday. Promoted by Printing Industries, the hugely informed contingent was led by Dr.-Ing Markus Heering, VDMA, Geschåftsfuhrer (managing director for those without German). The level of technical knowledge and expertise of the German printing industry always impresses me. The line-up of products and processes shows why German technology is regarded as best in the world.

    Highlight for me was the description of a sheet-fed gravure press from HC Moog, a 3rd generation family-owned, press manufacturer from near Frankfurt. It was presented with enthusiasm regardless of the fact that, insofar as I’m aware, there’s not a single sheetfed gravure press anywhere in Australia or New Zealand.

    UV driers from IST Metz, the latest in laser die cutting from Polar and box making from Kolbus, filled out the program. Dierk Wissmann who’s been with Heidelberg Australia long enough to be considered a local, presented the press manufacturers digital ‘FIRE’ line up of presses, while David Murphy, from foilmaker Kurz, definitely one of ours, born and bred, showed what can be done with foils. I scored a couple of excellent posters.

    Kurz embellished posters from drupas past.

    Pity the free event wasn’t better promoted as I’m certain many more printers and owners would have found it as fascinating and informative as I did.


    And finally …

    Just when you thought it safe to go back onto the aisles, here’s a throwback to well before the #metoo world. Heck of a way to attract partners.

    See you around the traps.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • IPMG merger punishes PMP share price

    The loss of Coles catalogues along with the Pacific Magazine printing contract to IVE Group as a result of the IPMG deal saw PMP’s share price take a 13.7% hit on publication of its annual results.

    The region’s largest commercial printing operation said sales were up $132.1 million to $734.0 million but when compared on a like for like basis with the previous businesses, they actually dropped by $108 million from $842 million. It posted a net loss of $43.8 million for the year.

    Kevin Slaven, CEO PMP.

    Acknowledging the task of bringing the two companies together had led to an increase in manufacturing costs, Kevin Slavin CEO in an executive summary, declared the integration was now complete. He declared the consolidation of the businesses was an important and necessary step that has helped settle the pricing and capacity issues that have long plagued the sector.

     As part of a plan to retire older inefficient presses and reduce overall print capacity PMP is buying a new manroland 80-page press for Warwick Farm to be installed in the second half of next year.

    It maintains the new $20 million press will provide production efficiencies through wider web width, increased running speed and faster make-readies, and in addition cost efficiencies through reductions in labour, energy, and repairs and maintenance. Replacing older presses allows for a net reduction in our overall fleet capacity (circa 10-15%). It will be paid for largely through export credit funding with a four-year payback.

     In an upbeat report the company reported that print volumes as well as revenue from its top 20 retail customers increased with expectations of further growth in the coming year. Despite overall unaddressed volumes to household in slow decline, large retailers remain committed to catalogues as a key driver. PMP delivers to 6.7 million Australian households every week.

    Citing an improved industry structure and realignment of capacity it predicts that heat set prices will stabilise. However falling print volumes for newspapers and magazines will likely offset the savings gained from the merger next year.

    PMP New Zealand’s results were dismal with revenue down 6.8% to $120.1 million. Heatset volumes there dropped by 3.5% along with earnings, which were hit by lower selling prices.

     

     

  • Aussie customers get Nanographic preview

    Impremia NS40 … Nanography from Komori.

    It’s been a long time between drinks for local printers who’ve put their hands up and their money down for the Landa-inspired Komori Impremia NS40. The select group was given a tour of the Komori factory in Japan at IGAS last month ahead of field testing next year, but will have to wait a while yet to get their hands on a press

    The Nanographic Impremia NS40 is to be field tested in Japan early in 2019. First shown at drupa 2016, the Komori Impremia NS40, a sheetfed inkjet press equipped with Landa Nanography technology, has been in development at Komori in Japan for more than two years.

    “Our local customers saw the machine during IGAS on a special tour in the Komori factory,” said Carsten Wendler, managing director, Print&Pack, the exclusive Australian Komori agent. Most Australian printers signed up for the Komori machine ahead of the Landa version. They include printers such as Blue Star, Hero Print and CMYKhub, who signed on at drupa.

    It’s not expected that any press will be available for local printers for a few years. General availability is planned for late December 2019.

    The NS40 is designed to combine the versatility of digital with the quality and speed of offset printing at a low cost per page. It has the capability to print on any off-the-shelf substrate, from coated and uncoated paper stocks to synthetic substrates and paperboard—up to 32 point—without the need for pre- or post-treatment of any type. Operating at an initial throughput rate of 6,500 straight sheets or 3,250 perfected sheets per hour, the NS40 will be available in multiple configurations, from a 4-7 colour straight press to an 8-color perfector with in-line coating.

    Based on the progress of the development of the Impremia NS40, Komori plans to carry out the first field test of the beta press in the Japanese market in the northern spring of 2019. This will be followed by similar plans to further test the NS40 in other countries as well.

    “Komori has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring this game changing technology to the market so we are very excited that this product will soon be a reality,” says Scott Robertz, NS40 product manager for Komori America Corporation.

     

  • Printers locked out at high-tech Reserve Bank print plant

    Note Printing Australia locked out half its work force this morning in retaliation for ongoing industrial action by the AMWU, provoking the remaining workers to go on a one-day strike in support.

    The workers will return on Monday maintaining their ongoing work bans on overtime and software implementation. They’re demanding a pay rise from the NPA, whose board of directors is made up of Reserve Bank members. The prolonged negotiations are snagged on a difference of one per cent with the union demanding 3.5 per cent to the NPA’s offer of 2.5 per cent.

    According to Mick Bull, AMWU organiser, this morning’s picket was the result of the company’s actions. “We’re open to negotiations with the board but they won’t meet us. They only send their HR people who don’t have any authority to negotiate,” he said.

    A petition signed by the entire workforce demanding a meeting with the Board was presented to the company. The enterprise bargain at the Craigieburn plant covers three unions, with the majority, 120 workers, belonging to the AMWU. One hour industrial stoppages are planned to continue with the threat of further escalation next week. A mass meeting of workers voted to continue the bans.

    Bull points out what he terms the hypocrisy of Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, who’s on record as encouraging workers to demand largest pay rises. He is reported to have told politicians that average annual wage increases need to be about 3.5 per cent to achieve average inflation of 2.5 per cent, the middle of the bank’s target.

    NPA was contacted but didn’t get back with any comment or explanation before deadline.

    The industrial strife comes as NPA is congratulating itself on completing the ‘next generation banknote’ series (NGB) with Malcolm McDowell, CEO, claiming the production and issue of the complex banknotes highlights the company’s ability to industrialise innovative new security technologies, and high-end security printing. NPA took part in the international SUSI Optics Specimen Note project along with suppliers LenSys, KBA NotaSys, SICPA and KURZ. In addition to printing Australian banknotes and currency for such countries as Singapore and Chile, NPA also produces Australia’s passports.

  • Hits & misses make the most of IGAS

    Tokyo Typhoon Number 12 of the season was a fizzer, a bit of a blow but nothing to bother the printers attending IGAS at Big Site out in the Bay. It came and went within a few hours; rain and wind enough to alarm the woman at the Heidelberg showroom where I was on Saturday afternoon. She urged us to get out quickly to avoid being stranded. Perhaps a little over the top, but …

    So, why was I at the Heidelberg showroom in Tokyo? Well here’s how the second part of my IGAS went.

    IGAS is an international exhibition, although overseas visitors are still only a small part of it. It’s international in that every manufacturer of note exhibits and as is becoming increasingly obvious that means most are Japanese firms. There are the large well known brands, but a walk around IGAS shows clearly the depth of ingenuity and industry in small firms and startups driving the printing equipment industry in Japan.


    With notable exceptions of course – HP is the eight hundred pound US gorilla in the centre of printing. Its digital reach is immense, encompassing every aspect of printing and packaging. In a prime position just inside the entrance in Hall 1 visitors were treated to a display of printed packaging that leaves no doubt that the future is definitely digital. It provided a testament to just how far the technology has been pushed and how this show was mostly about industrial printing mostly packaging.


    Konica Minolta Australian and Japanese colleagues (L to r) David Cascarino, Toshitaka Uemura, Koji Asaka and Anthony ‘AJ’ Jackson.

    Friday afternoon I had an appointment to meet with people from Konica Minolta who took time to talk about the 145-year-old company. Toshitaka Uemura, GM industry print business and Koji Asaka, assistant manager, are fine examples of all that’s best about Japanese corporate life. Dedicated and loyal they not only know the technology, but also are also deeply versed in the ethos and history of the company.

    There’s plenty of disparagement about the supposedly oppressed Japanese ‘salary men’ but they’re a remarkably hardworking and loyal bunch and these two were anything but put upon. Well informed too, as Uemura-san took me through the development of the company, its history as a photo and camera business and its prospects as a manufacturer of leading digital technology.

    There’s no doubt the Accurio KM1 is the flagship, a B2 inkjet press that is the first real contender to HP Indigo’s dominance. But there’s more in the portfolio too. The MGI digital embellishment JetVarnish 30 engine was prominent on the stand.

    Watch for a re-worked version of the Accurio Label press in the next few months, moving away from its BizHub-box appearance while still sticking with toner. It’s the technology the market wants, says Uemura-san, who was part of the planning team. He reckons the inkjet label sector is very well served but there’s a gap in the market where toner works in terms of cost and quality. And he gives every impression of knowing about what he speaks.


    Label specialist, Taishi Motoshige, (left) showed me around the Screen stand and introduced me to Ayaka Sasaki who looks after the CTP.

    Just next door Screen, another iconic Japanese manufacturer had a very busy stand. Based in the imperial city of Kyoto it has successfully reinvented itself as the market for its emblematic platemaking technology dwindled and almost died. But Screen is one of the few in the world still manufacturing CTP machines and lo and behold, there’s a new version released at this IGAS. A stripped-down unit aimed at the replacement market in developing countries, the PlateRite 8600NII can be upgraded with all the latest technology. As with much of Screen’s well-regarded technology, it’s widely rebadged and OEM’d.

    If you think a new CTP verges on the anachronistic, I was astounded to see a new proofing press on the stand, the Proof Jet F780 Mark ll. Who’d have thought sections of the Japanese media and advertising industry still insist on a proof from a proofing press? I mean, what’s the point, when it’s not going to be printed on the proofing press? Still, that’s what they want and Screen is happy to provide it.

    However, don’t let me give you the impression that Screen is caught in a weird time warp. Most of its stand was a model display of high-powered digital printing with two versions of the high-speed Truepress Jet, one for direct marketing production, the other for graphic arts; very impressive results. No sign yet of a cut sheet version.

    Fascinated to see the developments of Screen’s label press, with a new version out for the show, the TruePress L350UV+LM. The LM stands for low-migration; an ink set aiming to avoid any challenges to its suitability for labels on food products. Next to it was an Italian laser die cutter, a Cartes GE361L producing the best results from the technology I’ve seen. The label roll is split as it enters the machine with the printed layer being laser cut from the rear before being reunited with the liner. Clever solution that solves most of the angle cut problems from using lasers.


    Nothing to see here again, I’m afraid.

    One of the disappointments of IGAS was the no show of the Canon Voyager, the much-hyped flagship graphic arts digital press. I saw it at last drupa, but it wasn’t operating. The samples on display were tremendous. Same at IGAS. Lots of fabulous samples behind glass, lots of banners promoting the model, but no actual press. There were no English speaking staff, insofar as I could find, so I’m no wiser as to what’s happening with the Voyager. Perhaps it’s not for the Japanese market.

    There was an Océ Colorado there, promoted as a Canon product.


    David Currie, Australian IGAS-san and still a formidable printing equipment salesman.

    After a couple of days of missed calls, I managed to get in front of David Currie, executive chairman Currie Group, on the Saturday morning. I was keen to meet in Tokyo because David, if anyone, is the Australian IGAS-san. He tells me he’s being coming to the show for 31 years, ever since he hooked up with long-term friend and partner Hori-san, founder and owner of Horizon. (Hori-san… Horizon. Geddit?)

    We forget that at that time in the 1980s there was a sense, much promoted by competitors, that ‘Made in Japan’ was somehow dodgy and inferior. Certainly the trail David Currie blazed at the time was the road less travelled. Of course, nowadays, Japanese technology is the benchmark of quality and innovation.

    Such is the case with the vast range of equipment on the Horizon stand, the largest at IGAS, and not only on the Horizon stand but on others too, such as Ricoh and HP. In fact almost all the digital press manufacturers are using Horizon finishing kit.

    We tried to track Hori-san for a celebratory photo, but he wasn’t to be found. Then true to form, David Currie transformed into a younger version of himself as a Horizon equipment product manager and gave me a pretty comprehensive tour of the stand. Sure, he’s got people to do that for him, but once a printing equipment salesman …


    Anniversary celebrations for Richard Timson, whose 30 years with Heidelberg, man and boy, was commemorated with a gift of saki from Shuya Mizyno, president of Heidelberg Japan and Thomas Frank, head of sales Asia Pacific, who is also a 30-year Heidelberg veteran.

    Saturday afternoon with the typhoon closing in it was time to taxi to the Heidelberg showroom in Shinagawa. (Travel tip: never trust the driver over Google maps.) The German press manufacturer, represented by the redoubtable Thomas Frank, was showing off its Smart Print Shop concept while virtually promoting the new digital Primefire. There was no actual showing of the inkjet (at the Heidelberg IGAS stand visitors donned goggle-style glasses for a virtual tour) but there was a mighty Speedmaster XL 106, which proceeded to print 12 jobs of 150 sheets each (20 waste sheets per job) in 30 minutes, without operator intervention.

    While the printing was underway, the plates changing automatically and the press autonomously adjusting the settings, we were taken on a tour of the full print process, including the Versafire, which produced 26 digital jobs at the same time, again without operator input.

    Heidelberg promotes the concept as digitally controlled printing. Hugely productive to meet the challenge of the digital world, Frank also mentioned the ‘r’ word as in ‘rent a press’ with all the consumables supplied. This is the reality of the ‘subscription printing’ scheme being promoted by the company to drive new sales. It’s attempting to change the concept of how you go about owning productive print. Richard Timson, managing director ANZ says he’s close to getting the first Australian customer signed on.


    Determined to win: Tomomitsu Harada, is new managing director of the Australian company.

    Monday morning saw me heading west out of Tokyo to Tomi, halfway across the main island to visit the Mimaki plant. The aggressive and competitive wide format brand makes no bones about its drive to win market share in Australia and New Zealand. Tomomitsu Harada, the new managing director of the Australian company, unabashedly takes pride in his determined sales drive. At 31 it’s his first overseas managing director’s role and he’s determined to make the most of it. Bringing his family here in September, he’s settling in Chatswood, where else?

    Mimaki has one of the largest ranges of wide format equipment in the sector. With a company goal to double its revenue to $US1 billion within five years it’s the very model of a ‘win at all costs’ Japanese company. Fascinating to hear Harada quote the ‘beat sheet’ used by his salespeople; equipment that’s half the investment cost of rivals, ink that’s always cheaper, service that is aiming to be 100% performed by the company with a few years.

    There’s no doubting the engineering quality of Mimaki, but what makes it stand out for me is its sheer sales drive to win. It’s only been going direct in the local market for four years but expect to hear a lot more from the full-on Harada. He’ll be here in time for Visual Impact in Sydney where he promises to unveil a few surprises.


    The Epson stand, where I missed my walk through with Alastair Bourne, was packed with good gear such as the Surepress L-6034VW. It also provided my first sight of the LX-10000F, the Workforce engine that’s bringing PrecisionCore inkjet technology into the office and small production sectors.

    And that’s it from me in Japan. It was a great show. I messed up with a couple of appointments, notably with Epson on Monday (my apologies Alastair – see photo above). Check out the next issue of Print21 magazine for full IGAS report.

    Now I’m off to Haneda airport for an overnighter to Sydney. See you at the Yaffa LIVE Forum on Friday.

    Sayonara.

  • Print looks to the ‘Next’ at IGAS Japan

    There was an enthusiastic opening to Japan’s international graphic arts trade show at Tokyo’s Big Sight exhibition centre as crowds queued to get into the halls on the first day.

    Ushers at the entrance had to calm the throng as the doors were finally opened after an extensive ceremony to celebrate what the organisers themed as ‘Venture into the Next.’ Hard to imagine such enthusiasm in Australia for getting into a printing trade show, but the Japanese industry has embraced its opportunity to step up to international centre stage.

    Unlike many previous IGAS there is a sizeable international presence here, not only in exhibitors but also in visitors. I ran into a number of locals in the aisles having made the trip in a year when the late lamented UK Ipex would normally have provided a reason for overseas travel.

    As this is Japan, the people at the show are largely a homogenous bunch of locals, keenly attending to the numerous exhibits and presentations, all of them in Japanese. The international visitors are completely dependent on their compatriot contacts on the exhibitions stands for any information. Luckily, many companies seem to have sent representatives to handle the overseas visitors’ questions.


     

    No printing trade show in Asia Pacific is complete without the attendance of the delegates from the Forum of Asia Pacific Graphic Arts, and so it is with IGAS. Decked out with red and white rose buttonholes the great and the good from the trade associations in the region assembled for their conference. Representing Australia was long-term chairman of FAPGA, Peter Lane (far left) as well as Andrew Macaulay, CEO of Printing Industries (far right). They stolidly sat through the speeches before Lane joined in the ceremonial cutting of the opening ribbon.

    Afterwards I ran into Walter Kuhn, president of Printing industries, with the others heading in for a daylong session of presentations and speeches.

    I couldn’t attend myself, having too many appointments on the exhibition floors, but I’m sure it went a long way towards defining whatever the ‘Next’ is we’re invited to ‘venture’ into.

     


    In the Big Site swelter, David Cascarino and AJ flew the flag for Konica Minolta.

    No one told the crowds that the opening was at 11.00 on the first day to allow for the speeches, so it got a little testy in the lobby, in polite Japanese style, of course. I came upon two Konica Minolta representatives who were in danger of getting run over in the crush as the doors were finally opened. David Cascarino and Anthony ‘AJ’ Jackson are here to meet and assist a fairly substantial complement of Australian and New Zealand visitors to the Konica Minolta stand. I haven’t made it on there yet, so I can’t tell you what they’re looking for, but I will.


    Then and now, now and then: Moggers with Mike Boyle.

    As always HP is at the show with a massive presence, the largest non-Japanese exhibitor here. HP Indigo B2-size presses dominate the stand but there is a plethora of segments and products illustrating just how diverse are the uses to which digital printing is being put. I ran into the non-stop Alon Bar-Shany, honcho of HP Indigo, well known to Australian and New Zealand industry. He was with Mike Boyle, vice president graphics solutions Asia Pacific, our local guy who’s claimed a senior role in the company’s operations in the region.

    The two of them share more than common business interests – both are accomplished rock guitarists who take any opportunity to get together on stage.

    No sooner had Bar-Shany moved away than Michael Mogridge, Landa Corp vice president for Asia Pacific, joined us. Surprising to me, Boyle and he didn’t know one another, so I was pleased to make the introductions. In another life, Mogridge occupied almost the same role in HP. Many of Biyle’s current team came on board during his tenure, although it’s a far larger enterprise now.

    It’s a small world, this printing industry.


    Tesuya-san leading the Ricoh revolution.

     

    My first scheduled appointment was with Tetsuya Morita, vice president commercial & industrial printing, Ricoh. Fascinating company and very well helmed by efficient management, insofar as I could tell. I didn’t realise the depth of experience in Ricoh, or the amount of technology collateral it has invented and accumulated over the years. On a tour of the considerable stand it became obvious that Ricoh is a Japanese technology leader intent of leveraging its position to gain greater prominence in the industry. Centrepiece of the stand is the VC60000, a high-speed duplex inkjet that has as good a repro as any I’ve seen. Another version, the VC70000, is about to be launched with a new ink set and a top-secret drying system. This style of digital press is a little high-end for our local industry so I’m not sure when we’ll see one. Apart from the well-known production print work horses of the brand, the Pro C7210s up to the ProC9200 for commercial printing, more likely for our market is the new hugely productive wide-format flatbed, the Pro T7210, outputting at over 50 square metres an hour, double that of its nearest rival.

    We had a good in-depth interview, Tetsuya-san and me, so keep an eye out for a full exposition in the next issue of Print21 magazine. It’s a story worth the telling.


    Guru & pupil: Dayne Nankervis with Bernie Robinson.

    Trawling the aisles after lunch I came upon one of the industry’s elder statesmen, Bernie Robinson, managing director Currie Group. He’s over here with David Currie, executive chairman, to attend a Horizon worldwide channel partners conference today. All good news seemingly; Hori-san, founder and owner, has some announcements to make. To emphasise the point, Horizon has the largest exhibition stand at the show, not bad for a company that makes digital finishing equipment.

    Bernie was showing Dayne Nankervis the ropes, the scale of the industry and who’s who in our zoo. Remarkably for a member of the prestigious Melbourne printing family, this Nankervis is only a recent entry into printing, after a career in engineering. Now with CMYKhub, a good Currie Group customer, he’s here for the duration of the show, soaking up as much information as he can.

    Nice to see the traditions continue of the wise passing on their wisdom to young.


    Leading the charge for Mutoh is Isobe-san.

    I left the show in the late afternoon to go with Maeda-san on an interminable train journey through the sprawling city that is Tokyo to visit his boss Yasuhiko Isobe, senior managing director of Mutoh. One of the industry’s best kept secrets, Mutoh is an example of just how the Japanese do it. A company founded on the invention of the first the first drafter (designated part of Japanese mechanical engineering heritage) in the 1950s, it prides itself on the quality of its engineering. According to Isobe-san it’s not seeking to compete in the general market, preferring to invent its own category of production, especially in industrial printing. It’s a big ask but there’s a certain samurai-like determination about it.

    With Russell Cavenagh in place as the new Australian GM, Mutoh is set to use this year’s Visual Impact in Sydney to launch three world first machines. Not an everyday event, you’ll agree.

    At the Visual Impact show you’ll be the first to see:

    1. ValuJet 1638 UR, a UV inkjet that expands the range and is the first to use a new Mutoh-invented ink, the US11 that has the qualities of ‘bendability.’
    2. ValuJet 626 UF, a UV flatbed, a first for the company.
    3. ValuJet 1948 WX, a high-speed textile printer with another new ink, DH21, specially designed for the segment.

     

    Finally Maeda-san, who’s the deputy GM sales, took me to dinner at Shibuya, the jumping sector you always see in Tokyo videos where everyone crowds onto the intersection. It was packed and hot … did I mention there’s a heat wave in Tokyo? Dinner was sushi and sashimi in a nice low-key diner. Japan does it very well.

    Now I’m up for another day at the show, before the typhoon hits on the weekend. Oh, didn’t I mention the typhoon?

    Gotta love this place.

    Sayōnara!

  • P21 Issue 1026 – July 11, 2018

    News Corp and Fairfax have again floated the pipe dream of sharing newspaper printing plants across the country in an effort to protect dwindling profits. The scheme misunderstands the basic elements of newspaper competition and is something only MBA executives without newspapers in their blood would consider. Breaking news is important. At my coffee shop this morning the Sydney Morning Herald reported a tense wait for the Thailand cave boys to be rescued. The Daily Telegraph trumpeted their successful release. Guess which newspaper I picked up?

    The prospect of any professional newspaper editor politely giving way to a rival so they could be first on the press is ludicrous. Better to close the title than pretend this is a viable way forward.

    Welcome to your latest issue of Print21, the premier news and information service for the printing industry across Australia and New Zealand.

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor

  • Print is ‘classic’ outdoor media

    In a world divided between digital and printed outdoor signage, oOH!Media, one of the ‘big two’ operators in the out of home space keeps a focus on print by terming its static billboards as ‘classic’ media.

    Despite the attention paid to digital and video screens, the number of printed billboards still heavily outweighs digital across the country. However the revenue generated by digital is now almost half of the total $837 million in out of home spend, according to the Outdoor Media Association.

    You’d never guess print or ‘classic’ billboard media still provides the lion’s share of money at the glittering, wham-bam! presentation ‘A world of the unmissable’ by oOH!Media this morning in Sydney’s Hilton Hotel. The focus was clearly on new media campaigns driven by measurable data and ‘six second’ creative

    According to Brendon Cook, CEO, the restructuring of the company he began in 2011, is still on track, even ahead of schedule. Promoting out of home as the “oldest advertising medium” he emphasized the social responsibility as well as the delivered effectiveness of the medium. He said how for oOH!Media “standing still was not an option.

    Working on the theme that in a fractured media landscape brands have ‘six seconds’ to get the message across, Cook curated a series of presentations from clients such as QANTAS, Lion, Contiki and Junkee Media, that not surprisingly, demonstrated the effectiveness of  the medium. The fast-paced show emphasized the importance of using data in location-based campaigns.

    Presenters talked of the problems of banner blindness and ad blocking across internet and mobile channels in contrast to the ‘unmissable’ presence of out of home. “Know the consumer and know the data,” was the message.

    For instance did you know there are nine million ‘cheese occasions’ across supermarkets with most coming from regional areas and, singularly, Queensland? Accurately targeting these locations with engaging creative produced a significant increase in sales for beverage and grocery conglomerate Lion.

    This morning’s timely event came as the out of home media scene is in the news with the arrival of French-based JC Decaux buying APN Outdoor for $1.2billion and oOH!Media taking up Adshel for $570 million. According to Cook, if the acquisitions go ahead, the two big group will emerge as roughly of equal size.

    “And it’s good to have an Aussie company in there, isn’t it,” he said, gleefully.

     

  • EFI has its eyes on mid-range printers

    EFI power trio in Sydney; Andy Yarrow, director Asia Pacific, Jeff White, GM small & medium business software, with Daniel Aloi, Senior SDM.

    Medium-sized printers are an increasingly important  destination for the EFI software team in ANZ as  the company focuses on lifting its profile and presence with the vast majority of  middle-size printing companies.

    Following its success at both the top end of the industry with the largest printing companies almost universally using systems such as EFI Technique  as well as in the franchise sectors where its PrintSmith Vision is the preferred software with brands such as Snap and Kwik Kopy, Daniel Aloi, Senior SDM at EFI, is now sharpening his focus on medium-sized enterprises, the heartland of printing. “Workflow is the key differentiator in commercial printing. It’s what enables one printer to stand out from the others,” he said.

    He admits that while it’s often difficult for owner operators to see the value of software investment, he’s convinced that a company such as EFI, which has the scale and the stability, can deliver serious ROI for commercial printers. “Many printers don’t take the time to research the advantages of different software. There’s a lot of ‘me too’ products out there, but we are the only supplier with a complete system for printers. We deliver it all,” he said. “And you know when you invest in EFI software we’re not going to fall apart and go away.”

    Faced with almost market saturation at the top and bottom Aloi is looking for new fields to conquer. He is addressing the many mid-size printing companies where he believes the benefits of a good software system can make all the difference.

    “It’s a more difficult market to reach because there are so many stand alone companies. But these are the printers who can gain the most from EFI’s R&D in software,” he said.

    The message he and US-based Jeff White, GM small & medium business software who flew into Sydney last week, are getting out to commercial printers is that the right software is actually a business development system. As printing hardware becomes ever more standardised software has become the most important investment for a commercial printer.

  • Dragon Printing ignites 2nd Labelfire

    Paul McCullum, (centre) pictured with Chiara Prati and James Rodden earlier this year at the Dragon Printing factory.

    A massive remake of the Mascot-based company’s printing hall is transforming the well-known trade label converter ahead of the installation of its new Gallus Labelfire 340 hybrid digital press.

    One of the best kept secrets in the closely-knit label converting industry is out in the open with Dragon Printing owners Paul McCullum and Fareydun Pourshasb revealing they are the buyers of the 2nd Gallus Labelfire 340 press in Australia and the 1st in Sydney. (The initial press went into Rapid Labels in Victoria last year.) Putting an end to months of speculation as to their identity, McCullum laughs about the level of interest and questions he’s fielded in recent times.

    “People were calling me up all the time. I told them it had nothing to do with me. But now that the engineers are actually here installing the press, it’s time to come clean,” he said.

    The installation is the final stage of a major revamp of the company’s production facility, with the entire press hall remade. New water, air and power supplies are now in place in the climate-controlled factory as the Gallus-Heidelberg installation personnel get to it. McCullum expects the new press to be in production by the end of the month.

    “We’ve been looking at digital for a long long time, but I’ve never been happy before about the quality or the speed. We knew we had to move, to make the change to digital sometime,’ said McCullum.

    “There’s always been work we’ve avoided. Short runs and other jobs we’ll be able to do now. Some job preparations are complex and can run into the thousand of dollars. The Labelfire will extend our offering to customers.”

    McCullum is convinced he’s made the right choice with the inkjet hybrid press after travelling extensively to Europe and beyond to observe different digital presses in operation. Quality and speed were main factors in his decision.

    “The output from the LabelFire is just astronomical. I first saw it three or so years ago and I’ve been keeping a close watch on it ever since. I’ve seen it in action at numerous sites in Europe, especially in Strasburg. We’ve waited ‘til they ironed out the bugs. I didn’t want to be the first.”

    The Gallus Labelfire 340 is the digital flagship of Heidelberg in the label sector and is the latest in a long line of Gallus presses for Dragon Printing. Its arrival makes sense of some aspects of the earlier ECS press already in production here.

    “We had the ECS 340 here and there were certain parts of that that didn’t make sense to me. I asked myself, ‘why the hell have they done that?’ Now I know. They’ve been working towards this for a long time.

    “Look, it just fits in with what we do. It’s a hybrid machine and there are finished products coming off the end. I always said we’d never consider digital unless it had inline converting.

    “I believe it’s got higher quality than any other technology on the market. The output is not too bad at 50 metres per minute no matter how many colours you’re running.”

    Once the press is in place, there’ll be some weeks of training from the Swiss instructors to bring Dragon Printing people up to speed. After that, there’s likely to be an Open House for customers.

    McCullum is looking forward to powering up the new press and getting back to business. “It’s a lot of work but we know it’s going to be worth it,” he said.

     

     

     

     

  • Revolution fires up Australia’s 2nd KM-1

    Revolutionary partners in print: John Schreenan (left) and Leon Wilson.

    High-energy Ballarat printing company Revolution has thrown away the rulebook by installing the high-end, high capacity B2 inkjet press in the Victoria regional centre. Fired up printing partners and co-owners, Leon Wilson and John Schreenan, say they are hugely impressed with the productive power of the latest Konica Minolta inkjet digital technology. Two months after settling the press into its new air-conditioned home, the throughput is driving a massive growth in volumes.

    The pair are rightly dismissive of the notion that regional printers should be conservative in their technology choices, pointing to their early digital entry, a benchmark web-to-print strategy and national delivery footprint as ample justification for the new press. Traditional is not what the blokes at Revolution do: they’ve even decorated the new press in company livery to inject more excitement around the installation.

    As far as Wilson is concerned it’s all about changing the conversation and the perception of printing as a stick in the mud trade, especially in the regions. ‘Revo’ the über company mascot designed by a local artist, is everywhere, on walls, on marketing collateral and especially in the mindset of the two directors. He epitomises the freewheeling culture of Revolution and its determination not to be typecast as just another printer.

    “We don’t want to be the same as everyone else, to do the same thing printers have been doing for ever. We’re a technology company with a lot of energy and attitude. Our culture is more important than the technology we buy,” said Wilson.

    Culture and attitude are two words used a lot at Revolution. They go a long way to defining the drive and enthusiasm that has powered an impressive 50 percent growth in revenue over the past year. With 70 percent coming over the web, the local market still accounts for almost half of the total. The previous 12 months saw the partners expand the business with two acquisitions, one in Echuca, Victoria, the other in Goulburn, NSW.

    The AccurioJet KM-1 is destined to become the main production engine relieving the load on its two Fuji Xerox machines while complementing the capacity of the Shinohara offset press out the back. Bedding in a new printIQ production system, Revolution is set to reap the rewards of daring and belief in itself. The next tranche of investments will go to upgrading Horizon digital finishing equipment to keep pace with the multiplying numbers of jobs.

    “I’m thriving on the energy. The past two years have been without a break, but we’re on a mission here,” said Wilson.

    Part of that mission is to continue to differentiate Revolution from the rest, not only in technology investments such as the AccurioJet KM-1, but also in continuously refining of the company’s software, both in-house and online. The two owners are justifiably proud of their online presence, attributing much of the company’s success to their web-to-print operation.

    “People buy a software package out of a box and they think, problem solved. That’s why ninety percent of them stay on the shelf, because they don’t have somebody vested in the business that’s willing to spend the time,” said Wilson. “You’ve no idea how many hours I spent just thinking about it before attempting to actually set it up and make it work. That’s the investment. Ultimately it’s what makes a successful business.”

    It might be different in the metropolitan areas but in Ballarat, the onus was squarely on Wilson to make the thing work. There are few consultants in the area and even if there were he’s not impressed with that solution.

    “I did it all myself. It was a massive job. Some people say to hire a consultant but I don’t think they can do it. They don’t know the business. They’ll never understand internally what your drive and motivation is and how you want to run your business.

    “You also need to know how to manipulate the software, because if you’re pitching to a client and they ask you can you do something, you know straight away how it can be done, because you built the darn thing. It’s about having that confidence.”

    Revolution is a very differentiated printing company but in many ways it fits a normal commercial profile. It prints a wide range of materials, ready to take on everything and outsource what doesn’t suit its production. According to Schreenan, much of the difference is what happens to the jobs once they’ve been downloaded.

    “We go across a range of products and a lot of other printers do as well. But where it’s different is what happens once it gets to us and then how it gets to print,” he said.

    “Our business philosophy is very ‘can do’. Our attitude is extremely different. Seventy percent coming through online is a pretty big percentage. We know it’s a massive number. That’s something we’ve worked hard at for a long time. Leon took the base system of online and developed it. We made it work the way our customers need it to work. The software is not one size fits all.  That’s the unique side of our business.”

    There’s a very natural synergy between the two directors with Wilson first working in the business and then buying in as an equal partner four years ago. Very much the high-energy entrepreneur, he revels in the role of visionary and evangelist. Schreenan is more in the traditional style. After a long career with Fuji Xerox, he came back to Ballarat and transformed the company by investing in digital printing. He’s now the customer service side of the business giving Wilson air to constantly look towards the future.

    There are more investments on the cards for Revolution apart from the Horizon finishing kit, but they’re taking a step back from their usual full-on speed. “We’ve obviously made a bunch of investments. There will be more, maybe other acquisitions but lets’ bed this in first. The growth curve is massive and we’re trying to manage that,” said Wilson.

    “Updating our MIS is a massive project. We’ve moved across to printIQ, which is the system that will decide the most appropriate route for every job that comes in. But you must realise we’re only using fifteen percent of our true automation capability. We have so much potential ahead of us. “

    As only the second Accurio KM-1 in Australia (the first went into Jossimo in Melbourne late last year) Konica Minolta is understandably keeping a very close eye on the operation and lending as much support as required. According to Sue Threlfo, GM production & industrial print, inkjet is such a relatively pioneering technology at the high end of the market that just about everybody in it is new. 

    “That’s why an innovative organisation such as Revolution has a real market advantage.  When the KM-1 technology is paired with such dynamic forward thinkers as John and Leon, it shows just what can be achieved in the printing industry,” she said.

    Sue Threlfo (right) with Leon Wilson and Anthony Jackson, industrial print sales specialist (left).

    “The AccurioJet KM-1 is already very quickly having a positive effect for Revolution.  It has the ability to produce such a wide range of jobs so efficiently. Textured stocks, right through to forms and letterheads are proving there are significant productivity gains to be had with the KM-1.  We appreciate Leon and John sharing their passion for the Konica Minolta KM-1. 

    “John and Leon first saw the KM-1 at drupa in 2016.  From there they reviewed all the available solutions in the B2 inkjet marketplace, and decided that the total offering from Konica Minolta was the superior option. It seems their decision has been a great choice.  At Konica Minolta we are excited to see where the future takes such the energetic innovative organisation as Revolution Print.”

  • printIQ lands in UK ahead of schedule

    “The UK is a new one for us. It came out of the blue and changed our plans:” Anthony Lew, CEO, PrintIQ

    An urgent ‘out of the blue’ inquiry from a North London printer brought forward the software creator’s plans to establish a presence in Britain.

    According to Anthony Lew, CEO, printIQ, the move into the UK was planned for early 2019 so doing it ahead of schedule has meant some late nights and some extra organising to have staff on the ground. “The UK is a new one for us. It came out of the blue and changed our plans,” said Lew. “The customer, called us, asked if we could be up and running within four weeks when the previous system was to be turned off. So of course, we said ‘yes,’ we’ll do that.”

    The first install then turned out to be the first of many prospective customers in the UK that are looking at printIQ installations.  “We were very surprised at the response, in a good way of course. To see the same reaction in a new market as what we find here was exactly the stating point we were hoping for,” Lew said.

    The UK expansion comes on top of printIQ’s continuing success in the US market, leading to the establishment of support and implementation facilities on both the West and East Coasts. In addition a new office in Canada, has come on board to drive expansion in that market.

    printIQ’s international success follows a ten-year growth blitz ever since the company launched its workflow production system in 2008. Operating from three locales here; Wellington NZ, Collingwood in Victoria and Burleigh Heads Queensland two thirds of the 35 people in the company are in development and implementation and support.

    The overseas drive represents both a new opportunity and a natural progression into new markets. Lew believes that given the size of the USA market, it is less competitive than it is here.

    “The Australian MIS market has a lot of players, everyone knows the printIQ brand and it’s so well regarded. In contrast, in the US, the market is enormous, there are fewer players and generally no one knows who we are. The one thing that the two have in common is that as long as we get in front of a customer we invariably make a sale,” he said.

    Part of the reason behind the success, he believes, is the ability and determination of printIQ to continue to develop the system to meet customer’s requirements. Lew tells of American printers coming to the company at trade shows dissatisfied with the inability of their mainstream systems to change.

    “Sixty percent of our customers are converting from other systems. They complain that nothing ever changes, that it’s the same product over the past ten years. We continually invest in product development to be able to change. Thirty percent of our revenue goes on R&D. Yes, it’s a costly thing to do, but we look at it more like a marketing cost. If we build a great product, it sells itself.,” he said.

    “Everyone’s workflow is different. The printIQ approach is to enable customers to create a workflow that supports their business.  We achieve this by equipping them with a toolbox full of gadgets and plugins that ultimately allow them to create a unique workflow. We give them the tools. We hold their hands, and when they don’t know how, we show them what it is they can actually do,” said Lew.

  • Avon Graphics buys Bob Minto’s Rotoflex Coatings

    Keeping up with industry changes: Tate Hone (right) with Rotoflex GM Chris Cummins.

    Tate Hone continues to expand his family’s specialist print trade supplier and embellishment company, Avon Graphics, with a buyout of high-profile Sydney print finisher as part of his strategy to grow through acquisition and investment.

    Buoyant and confident in the future of printing and print embellishing, Hone confirms the latest takeover and points towards further acquisitions. He tells of significant investment in high-end heavy metal equipment with a delivery already on the water.

    “We’ve invested in heavy metal, buying equipment that ten years ago we thought we’d never buy again. The commercial sector is changing and we’re finding it very interesting at present. Packaging is a growth market for us,” he said.

    “It’s amazing how the growth of Australian-made goods for China is increasing demand. The arrival of overseas supermarket chains here is also increasing the demand for high-quality packaging for locally sourced products.”

    The Avon Graphics buyout of the Silverwater-based Rotoflex Coatings gives added impetus to industry consolidation in the print-finishing sector. The two companies are close neighbours in the Sydney suburb and while owner Bob Minto is retiring, Chris Cummins, general manager, is staying on to run the business. All staff will remain and according to Hone, it’s “business as usual.”

    “Some of the equipment we’ll take across and eventually consolidate the two sites. Other stuff will go to our interstate operations. It’s good for us and it’s good for the industry,” said Hone.

    The buyout takes Avon Graphics to over 100 people across the country with further growth anticipated across its traditional print finishing and embellishment complemented with a burgeoning digital wide-format business.

    Other developments in the sector sees a sale of Alan Goulburn’s Sydney-based All Kotes in February. This follows his divestment of the Melbourne division to Protectaprint last year.

     

     

  • Cut sheet colour prices stabilise

    A tentative degree of stability is emerging in the cutthroat world of cut sheet digital colour as prices hover around five cents per SRA3 sheet. The phenomenal drop in rates over the past 20 years has seen colour digital fall from nearly $1 per sheet at introduction to its present low level as the market commoditised under the pressure of emerging technologies and aggressive competition.

    According to industry veteran, David Procter, sales director Konica Minolta, a floor may have been reached at the current five cents per colour sheet. “Look, the competition is still increasing, but there’s the feeling in the market that the costs have levelled out now at the five cents mark,” said Procter. “Paper costs are starting to rise. They’ll soon be more than the print.”

    Having spearheaded Konica Minolta’s drive into production printing in 2006, Procter has an in-depth knowledge of the market. “I sense printers are recognising that it can’t fall much lower. I remember when colour sheets were selling for eighty to ninety cents a sheet not that long ago,” he said.

    His comments come as Konica Minolta celebrates increasing its colour unit placements in the 60-100 ppm market share by 40 percent last year in the hyper competitive arena. “You have to remember this is in a market that’s declining overall. We’ve done well and we do have aggressive targets to meet this year.,” he said.

    Procter made the statement as he introduced industry notable, Sue Threlfo, in her new role as general manager, production & industrial print, Konica Minolta (pictured above). “Sue is a great addition to our management team. She’s very well known and liked in the industry and she brings plenty of knowledge and experience to her role. She’s a natural fit for this important position,” he said.

    With 20 years experience in commercial digital printing, mostly with Fuji Xerox, Threlfo said she feels as though she’s “come home” with her new position at the eclectic technology company. “It’s a great company to work for. The people here would walk over hot coals for the management people like David Cooke and David Procter.

    “While the customer is central to everything we do, and our customers love us, the company is very staff friendly too. It’s a positive environment,” she said.

    She takes up the reins as general manager as Konica Minolta celebrates its market share increase. In a very tough market, she attributes the success to a raft of new products – such as the AccurioPress C6100/C6085 – as well as the efforts of the sales team and Konica Minolta’s service organisation.

    “I cannot speak too highly for the level of support our customer receive from our service organisation. Nothing is too much trouble for them. They make our job in sales so much easier,” she said.

    She makes the point that Konica Minolta is one of the few companies in the industry that has not out sourced or offshored it customer support centre. “We don’t offshore that and we won’t. When a customer calls they speak with a Konica Minolta Australia employee. It’s a very different level of service,” she said.

    Her responsibility for the industrial print portfolio puts her in the front line of print innovation. Following up on last year’s initial installation of the new KM-1 B2 digital press at Jossimo Print in Victoria, she confirms another sale of the flagship press. The second is currently being installed in an unnamed printing company in regional Victoria. She expects more to go in before the year is out.

    “It’s important that we make sure every one is the right press for the customer. We’re not looking at large numbers, but for good installations,’ she said.

    Other Konia Minolta industrial print products include the MGI JETvarnish as well as the AccurioLabel 190 label press. It’s part of a strategy of innovation promoted under David Cooke, managing director, who uses the metaphor of Pacific islands beset by rising seas levels. In this case it’s the declining print market. “Some choose to wait and do nothing, while others try to take action before they’re swamped. That’s what we’re doing,” he said.

    The diversification of the Konica Minolta portfolio includes 3D printing as well as advanced robotics, in addition to its focus on production and industrial print.

    But perhaps the most notable feature of the company for Sue Threlfo is the inclusive corporate culture, nurtured under Cooke. She highlights events that support diversity, such as ‘Harmony Day’ when staff dress in national costume and cook their national cuisine.

    In addition she’s already been to Cambodia as part of Project Futures, supporting together1heart, an anti-slavery initiative supported by the company, management and staff. “It was a marvellous thing to do with the company. I’ve sponsored a young girl in Cambodia for years, so it was really great to be able to combine the two,” she said.

    It does appear as though Sue Threlfo has found her spiritual as well as vocational home in Konica Minolta.

  • ‘On-shoring’ of fabric print at The Textile Hub

    ‘Dancing with technology.’ Tom Tjanaria, chairman (centre) with Romeo Sanuri and Andrew Oskar of Next Printing at the opening on The Textile Hub.

    Next Printing’s new venture aims to revitalise the Sydney fashion industry by enabling short runs of printed fabrics as an alternative to offshore production in China.

    The Sydney-based enterprise has bought a complete of fabric printing production line from a local swimwear manufacturer. It launched the new service this week with the promise to deliver affordable and high-quality printed fabric in run lengths and time frames to enable local designers to bring their production back onshore.

    According to Julian Lowe, creator of The Textile Hub, the idea had its genesis during a visit six years ago to a village in Italy that was inkjet printing baby clothes. “I thought if they can do that here, why can’t we do something similar in Australia,” he said.

    Matt Ashman, of Durst agent, PES, (left) with Julian Lowe.

    The Textile Hub is committed to solving a persistent problem faced by local fashion and clothing manufacturers – and indeed by Australian entrepreneurs generally. To create new materials requires a substantial order to factories in China. Designers are then at the mercy of the overseas producers and have to plan a long time in advance. It’s expensive and there is no way of trialling new material.

    With The Textile Hub they can order a small amount for a fashion show to see how it’s received before committing to a big investment. The new factory at Sydney’s Alexandria is adjacent to Marrickville that Lowe maintains is the remaining centre of local designers and fashion producers. His intention is to create a network of professionals that can help revive the industry’s fortunes. “We want to educate people to print again in Australia,” he said.

    The textile factory is centred on an EFI Regianni Renoir Compact inkjet printer. It also operates Roland and Mimaki wide format injets. Australian-made Rimslow coating and washing units prepare the fabric, which after printing is steamed at high pressure before being washed and dried. The industrial process ensures customers have high-quality fabric at optimal run lengths. An onsite fabric cutting service is also available.

    The new venture is one of two new initiatives from sign and display producer, Next Printing. At this week’s event it also launched a photo book printing company, Oliphan, aiming at the competitive album printing market.

    According to Next Printing chairman ,Tom Tjanaria, the company’s venture into new areas is part of an ongoing vision to “dance with new technology.” The company is currently investing in top of the range Durst industrial inkjets for its conventional signage and display operation. He invited the assembly to join them “in the technology dance.”

     

     

     

     

  • James Rodden start up – life after Gallus

    Inspecting the label inspector: Chiara Prati, sales & marketing director, Prati, with Paul McCullum, director and owner, Dragon Printing, along with James Rodden now with Rodden Graphics.

    Label maestro sets up his own Rodden Graphics business after ending a life-long engagement with the Heidelberg-owned Swiss label press manufacturer.

    In the 22 years James Rodden has represented Gallus in Australia and New Zealand, the cheerful Irishman has reinforced its position as the number one label press in the region. Now he’s resigned to start up his own business, Rodden Graphics, initially representing the Italian finishing equipment manufacturer, Prati here and in Singapore. Last week he escorted Chiara Prati, sales and marketing director, around 30 label converting customers on both sides of the Tasman, including to Dragon Printing in Mascot.

    While still working part time with Heidelberg during the Gallus transition, Rodden indicates the successful Prati inspection systems will form the basis of his new venture. “I’ve always gotten on very well with the people from Prati. It’s been a very good brand for the label convertors here,” he said.

    He intends to broaden the offering of his new Rodden graphics for the label converting industry. In addition to the Prati label inspection systems, which he maintains has changed the way the local industry operates, the company’s Saturn Omnia multi-use finishing platform already is in a number of sites in the region.

    Chiara Prati is confident the company’s products are meeting the fast moving digital transformation of the label industry. She is looking forward to expanding the Prati footprint in the region. “We come to market with a number of very sophisticated solutions for professional people in the label converting industry. Australia and New Zealand are very important markets for us in this region. James leads the service team here and is very knowledgeable,” she said.

    Paul McCullum, director of Dragon Printing, is a typical Gallus label convertor who’s incorporated Prati inspection systems into the Sydney-based operation he runs with partner, Fareydun Pourshasb. He was pleased to be able to let Chiara Prati know about the performance his machines. “Most people don’t know the amount or the type of equipment we have here. We fly under the radar. It’s good to be able to share our experience with the manufacturers,” he said.

    Chiara Prati tries to visit the ANZ region at least once a year and listen to the customers. After her recent tour she’ll be back manning the company’s exhibition stand at the LabelExpo South East Asia in Bangkok in May.

    “It’s very important for us to be able to listen to our customers and take their information to the factory. This is how we develop,” she said.

  • HP PageWide – converting convertors to digital

    David Tomer with an “offset quality” corrugated package in front of the C500 at the HP Scitex manufacturing plant in Caesarea, Israel.

    A watershed moment has arrived for the packaging industry, especially the corrugated carton board sector, with the launch in Israel of the HP PageWide C500 press.

    The digital revolution that has transformed the commercial printing sector over the past two decades is now about to do the same to the packaging industry. Led by the label sector, digital printing is not only changing how the industry works but also how brands and consumers interact. Even as narrow web digital presses, such as the HP Indigo Series 4, make inroads into analogue volumes, while accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of actual jobs, the elephant in the room is the corrugated packaging sector.

    The packaging industry is worth $870 billion globally. The corrugated sector is a major sector and one of the last holdouts against digital. Largely a flexo printed, plain brown box affair in the midst of a colourful and increasingly customised world, it also represents a ubiquitous, but unexploited marketing channel for marketers struggling with the fragmentation of traditional media.

    Digital inkjet, both pre-print and post-print, not only allows brands to utilise the packaging real estate with bright colourful graphics, it also solves a number of production and logistical problems in a fast moving world. As companies move more towards just-in-time (JIT) production there is less opportunity or appetite to retain inventory. With marketers looking to leverage events and seasons to customise their products, packaging convertors are faced with shorter runs and little lead-time. Both challenges can be met by the unique qualities of digital printing.

    This is the opportunity being seized upon by Scitex, the HP company based in Israel. Best known for its sign and display presses, it has leveraged the huge HP technology infrastructure and experience in ink and thermal inkjet heads, to address the corrugated packaging market.

    According to David Tomer, GM HP Scitex, convertors now need to be agile and flexible in order to meet their customers’ requirements. For this they need to move towards digital production. “It has become a necessity for convertors. There is no question that digital printing is the future of corrugated; the only question is how fast it will happen,” he said, at the launch of the HP PageWide C500 press this week in Netanya, Israel.

    The first ‘alpha’ site for the inkjet behemoth is at Carmel Frenkel, a nearby convertor, with a second scheduled to go into Europe in March. All up, Tomer claims five signed orders will be delivered this year, with “dozens more in the pipeline. Convertors tell me they’ve been waiting for this technology for many years. In this case the market’s been ahead of the technology,” he said.

    The revolutionary C500 is a single-pass, post-print, water-based press with just one speed, 75 linear metres per minute. (Post-print means it prints on the already created corrugated board, as opposed to pre-print whereby the printed sheet is attached in the construction of the fluted board.) It utilizes one million inkjet nozzles (1200 per inch) delivering six picoliter drops to produce high-quality graphics with clear distinct type. Robust in construction and designed to work a

    David Tomer (center) with editors, John Kalkowski, US-based Packaging Strategies and Patrick Howard, Print21.

    longside flexo presses in the some times harsh industrial packaging environments, it’s built as a mainstream corrugated press.

    Tomer is keen to make the point that because the C500 is using water-based ink while delivering “offset quality,” it’s unquestionably suitable for the huge food packaging market. This represents more than 50% of the corrugated sector bringing the addressable market for the press to $3.5 billion in 2017 rising to $5.5 billion in 2023.

    “We’re now the only one with both pre-print and post-print technology,” said Tomer, referring to the company’s existing 15500 and 17000 HDR-based pre-print machines, which it’s been delivering for a number of years. There are a good number of them in the local Australian converting sector, which will have to wait at least a year before it can access the new press. The C500 is designed to bring more efficiency to the production process and show all the signs of being the first shot in a revolution that will change corrugated packaging forever.