Author Archive

  • 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.

     

     

     

     

  • 700 HP customers at Israel event – mazel tov

    Shalom from Tel Aviv: Roger Kirwan, Phil Rennell, Currie Group, Michael Gillis, HP Graphics, and Ken Williams.

    One of the largest gatherings of HP Indigo print service providers (PSP) is spending three days in a deep dive into the company’s extensive digital printing portfolio at the company’s Israeli manufacturing and research site.

    Four Australian printers made the journey; Roger Kirwan of Sydney-based Foxcil, Chris Zapris, of Melbourne-based PMI and father and son, Ken and Daniel Williams also of Melbourne-based Excel.

    The huge troupe of printing industry professionals from all over the world testifies to HP’s status as the industry’s single largest technology supplier.The diversity of the PSPs in attendance showcases the company’s wide range of digital technologies across production printing and packaging. A number of new products were launched during the event including a new HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press, an upgrade to HP Indigo 30000 for folding carton production and the commercial release of the HP Indigo Pack Ready Lamination.

    The chutzpah that informs such a massive event was carried off by the enthusiasm of the HP Indigo specialists on the day. From a basic 101 presentation of the foundation LEP technology through to the launch of the latest silver ink for labels, the power of electro ink was on impressive display.

    With the theme of Print Anything, Be Productive, Stand Out, HP Indigo took to the central stage with assurance. During the packed event-filled day, customers, media and potential customers – half of the visitors don’t own an Indigo – were ushered in packs around the stunning manufacturing campus in Kiryat Gat. They thronged the press halls, the ink laboratory, the applications displays, and the technology fair of developing products. Demonstrators talked themselves hoarse in multiple languages, fielding the hard questions and explaining the technology in detail.

    Alon Bar-Shany, head honcho of HP Indigo was a pervading presence, even among so many. He shared the limelight with Santi Morera, Global Head of Graphics Solutions Business, who reaffirmed the company’s innovation philosophy, which he believes is doing “what it takes to change an industry.”

    While acknowledging the central importance of commercial digital printing, which is still the core business in this 25th anniversary year, Bar-Shany pointed towards the horizon of industrial printing, noting the company’s long-term commitment to digital labels since 1996, as well as its more recent engagement with flexible packaging and folding cartons.

    Salutary to realise that it’s basically the same printing engine that drives the entire portfolio of presses, from commercial sheetfed up to high-speed publication webs, from the photo book market, which Indigo can claim to have invented, to security labels embedded with RFID. This is undoubtedly a major factor in the underlying strength and flexibility of HP Indigo.

    While deadlines prevent an in-depth report of the day – for that you’ll have to read the next issue of Print21 magazine – certain high points are worth mentioning.

    Ami Berger talked himself hoarse extolling the virtues of the silver ink released for the new 6900.

    Undoubtedly the new HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press took the starring role. The latest generation in the best selling label series it incorporates a number of new features.

    • Pack Ready for Labels for the production of high-resistance labels for food, household, chemical, and pharma labels. Four beta sites are producing commercial jobs.
    • New HP Indigo ElectroInk Silver, now commercially available, delivers metallic effects across a wide colour gamut, similar to Pantone 877.
    • HP Indigo ElectroInk Invisible Blue and Yellow visible under UV light for brand protection and promotional labels.
    • Integration with the HP Indigo GEM embellishment unit, the first fully digital, one-pass label printing and embellishment solution for spot, tactile, foil, holograms, mini textures and lamination.

    In addition, the high-performance digital front end, HP Production Pro for Indigo Labels and Packaging, now drives the press. It will be rolled out this year to the full labels and packaging portfolio. Featuring a five times faster RIP and the Esko Colour Engine, the powerful DFE provides extensive productivity and scalability for continuous digital production.

    Now that’s an innovative business model

    Changing the game is Jack Knott of ePac Flexible Packaging who shared his vision with Patrick Howard, Print21 Publisher, at the Kiryat Gat event.

    Among the more stunning announcements at the event was the packaging press sale of ten HP Indigo 20000 digital presses to Colorado-based ePac Flexible Packaging. Jack Knott, CEO, the bluff, silver-haired founder and serial innovator described the operation as “trying to simplify flexible packaging.” Someone else described the 18-month-old franchise, where the owner operators buy 49% with ePac holding the rest, as “the Vista print of packaging.” The presses are for rollout across the USA coast-to-coast in new facilities opening in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Miami and are in addition to the three already installed.

    The idea is to deliver flexible packaging, mostly the rapidly growing pouch sector, to small-to-medium sized manufacturers in whatever run size they require, almost on demand. The impressive Knott reckons he can set up a packaging plant consisting of two HP Indigo 20000s, a laminator, slitter and pouch lines inside 90 days for a little over $3 million.

    “Rapid turnaround time, low minimums, customization, graphics quality, and the ability to print to demand differentiate ePac from conventional flex pack converters. Printing is the core enabling technology we have built ePac on, with the HP Indigo 20000 serving as the foundation of our manufacturing platform. ePac’s collaboration with HP is fundamental to our growth strategy, as we look to adding ePac sites in the months ahead,” Knott is quoted as saying.

    Tomorrow the focus for the small media contingent in Israel as guests of HP moves to Scitex for a look at the new corrugated inkjet press, the C500. With the first one currently being installed in an ‘alpha site’ in Israel the next is slated to go into Europe within months. Stay tuned.

    However if HP Indigo, the original digital printing company, proved anything with today’s extravagant mediated chaos, a positive ballygan* at Kiryat Gat, it’s that it is still a powerhouse of innovation, playing the leading role in the digital printing industry and unlikely to be headed by the competition anytime soon.

    * This is a Hebrew word used by Alon Bar-Shany. I’m told it comes up in Google in Hebrew, but without an English translation. Mediated chaos is the best I can do.

  • Scott Telfer steps into the customer experience battle

    “Without customers you don’t have a business.” says Scot Telfer.

    A wealth of printing industry experience informs the well-known industry identity’s latest venture of delivering a CX point of difference.

    Few individuals have such as deep and varied experience of the printing industry as Scott Telfer. From early days in sales for Heidelberg, through managing some of the most innovative and iconic Sydney-based printing brands – Websdale, Penfold Buscombe, GEON and latterly his own Oxygen, which he sold to Blue Star two and a half years ago – he’s been at the forefront of print production development for the past few decades.

    Now having parted from Blue Star at the end of last year, the affable Telfer is returning to an enduring theme of his industry engagement, ‘customer experience.’ He’s stepping out as CustomerCX, an industry consultant for global business brand, Market Culture Inc.

    “Customer experience is something I’ve always been passionate about. Without customers you don’t have a business. I tell printers it’s not about the investment value of their business, but the customer vale. That’s what will get you higher and better returns,” he said.

    He knows only too well the difficulties of maintaining a customer-centric culture in a small printing business where resources are often stretched just to keep production running. Most printing companies struggle in keeping the customers’ interest first, but Telfer is convinced it’s the only way to prosper.

    “I firmly believe that if you can get all the people in the business engaged with this idea, with asking themselves ‘is this the right decision for the customer’ you will succeed. From the printer on the press through to finishing and despatch, everyone has to have that focus,” he said.

    Increasing customer value is likely to deliver higher returns, he says, while encouraging customer loyalty and “gaining a greater share of their wallet.” Telfer quotes from his bible, Customer Culture Imperative, that customer experience is the last battlefield where businesses can differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

    It’s his mission now to bring that differentiation to printers across Australia and New Zealand.

     

     

     

  • Peter Lane OAM steps down from PIAA board after 30 years of service

    Peter Lane, Lane Print Group

    Epochal change for the peak industry body as prominent industry identity passes the South Australian baton to Sarah Leo of Openbook Howden.

    Lane moves aside after having served multiple terms as National President (1995-1996, 2005-2008) in addition to his record participation at board level. His time spanned tumultuous decades of digital transformation and consolidation of the printing industry. He has overseen the tenure of numerous Association CEOs as well as a radical reshaping of the Association.

    During his years of service the Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) changed from being the Printing & Allied Trades Employers Federation of Australia (PATEFA) while moving from its traditional role as an industrial relations organisation to being the national representative body for the commercial printing industry.  Always an active and engaged board member, he was responsible for many of the significant changes.

    In 1997 he was acclaimed as Graphic Arts Person of the Year and has been a guiding member of the board of the industry trade shows PacPrint (five times) and PrintEx (twice). In 2004 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to the printing industry, particularly for the integration of information technology into conventional print technologies and the community.

    According to Lane he stepped down from the role of Board Member and Secretary at the end of December although he still has one year of his term to run. “I wanted to make the transition as seamless as possible. Sarah Leo is a very capable woman. She’ll discover there is a lot to do for the industry by being on the board,” he said.

    “I’ve been very fortunate during my time and the industry has been very good to me. It’s a pleasure to give something back.”

    He sees diversification, industry training and meeting the demographic changes as major challenges confronting the industry. “The aim is to develop a sustainable industry as well as an Association. Succession planning is important as people age,” he said.

    He admits to owing a debt of gratitude to a sympathetic board at his family-owned Lane Print Group. Not everyone is able to devote as much time and energy as he has over the years to the wellbeing of the broader industry.

    His contribution to PIAA is recognised and acknowledged by current national president, Walter Kuhn. “Our industry is stronger due to decisions made by Peter Lane. On behalf of the print sector I thank Peter for all that he has done.

    “He’s given above and beyond the call of duty. He will be missed. I’d like to formally acknowledge the contribution that Peter has made to the board, and wish him well in his future endeavours,” said Kuhn.

    In welcoming Sarah Leo to the board Kuhn recognises the demographic change necessary to continue moving forward. “Sarah’s appointment represents an exciting generational change in our board. Her extensive experience in marketing and promoting print brings extended capability to our already comprehensive board composition. Sarah is engaged with the membership and will provide a valuable fresh perspective as we invigorate our association’s governance,” he said.

    “Sarah’s appointment reflects considered and strategic succession planning that the association is progressing across all states. We are dependent on younger members of the industry from varied sectors to raise their hands and consider board representation to ensure we can keep refreshing the association.

    “We are looking to the future as a commercially sustainable association that delivers quantifiable value to members. It is critical our board has the skills and the representation across the industry to deliver our refreshed strategy.”

    Sarah Leo and Michael Richards … top team at Openbook Howden

    Andrew Macaulay, CEO, also spoke in praise of Lane’s long commitment to the Association. “Peter has provided me with invaluable insights into our Association, and this has guided me as we move the Association forward. I thank Peter sincerely for his contribution.”

    Sarah Leo says she’s keen to contribute to the Association in her new role. “As an industry, we have shouldered significant changes and the resulting transformation is exciting and encouraging.  Print in all of its forms, continues to demonstrate significant ROI for clients and I look forward to assisting the board to communicate our industry’s brand proposition.”

    Lane continues to be President of the Forum of the Asia Pacific Graphic Arts group, the international representative body in the region.

     

  • Paper buyers lose control of prices

    Some local paper merchants have been caught flatfooted by the rapidity and scale of pulp and paper price rises around the world with some having to play catch up next year issuing three, four and five price rises.

    Tim Woods, Pulp & Paper Edge.

    The unprecedented surge in pulp and paper prices will turn the printing industry upside down with long-standing expectations of continuous lowering prices consigned to the dustbin of history. According to Tim Woods at Pulp & Paper Edge, an industry watershed has arrived for paper prices.

    In the latest issue of the industry bible, he reports that in China, the largest pulp market, chemical pulp prices for softwood have risen in 2017 by 48% with hardwood closely following at 38%. Globally pulp prices have already exceeded previous peaks.

    Adding to the pulp prices are rapidly escalating shipping and chemical price hikes. In addition China is taking out of production many environmentally disastrous small pulp factories further reducing the amount of pulp available.

    Paper mills are in many cases now receiving significantly higher prices for printing and communication papers in China than in the Australian and New Zealand market. Woods makes the point that as a very small, albeit significant market in world terms, the local region is a price taker, not a price maker.

    Australian and New Zealand printers have long benefitted from a hyper competitive local market. This has seen paper prices fall as the supply chain – manufacturers, merchants, agent and importers ­ – absorbed increases, especially in CWF grades, over the past three to four years, even as inputs have steadily risen.

    In the face of the impending perfect storm, this can no longer be the case. All major merchants are already jacking up their prices with most indicating there’ll be more to come next year.

    This means printers have to adjust to a new and novel environment. Volumes may already be under pressure but paper prices will rise to the extent that they simply cannot be absorbed without the risk of going broke. Everyone, printers, mills and paper merchants alike are going to have to get used to asking for higher prices from their customers in 2018.

     

     

  • Power print people celebrate industry alliance

    Celebrating print in Sydney this week were (left to right): Kevin Slaven, CEO PMP; Michelle Levine, Roy Morgan; Sally Wright, Medium Rare; Kellie Northwood, CEO Two Sides and convenor of the event; and John Walker, MD Sappi Australia.

    A cross section of the great and the good of the printing industry came together this week in Sydney as three allied organisations, Two Sides, Australian Catalogue Association (ACA) and Australian Paper Industry Assocaition (APIA) showcased their work in promoting printing.

    Under the auspices of industry notable, Kellie Northwood, the alliance demonstrated its power, clout and influence with a turnout that included representatives of most major players across a wide range of sectors. It reflected the importance of cooperation between advocacy groups and industry representative organisations.

    Catalogue printers were represented by such enterprises as IVE Group, PMP, Fairfax, and Finsbury Green. Commercial printers included Jossimo Print and Bambra Press, while suppliers such as Konica Minolta, Starleaton and Fuji Xerox had their own Visual Connections representation there. Australia Post’s Mark Roberts flew the flag for the often maligned postal service, while paper mills and merchants from APIA, such as Sappi and Ball & Doggett completed the spectrum of industry attendance.

    The Sydney meeting reinforced the importance of promoting printing to the wider community with presentations from content publisher, Medium Rare on the efficacy of printing as a communication channel while drill down stats were supplied by research firm, Roy Morgan.

    The gathering emphasized the shifting influences that are shaping the printing industry and the need for groups such as Two Sides to continue the fight against ‘greenmail.’ At closing, Northwood, encouraged everyone to disseminate the good news about the virtues of printing and take pride in being part of a vibrant industry.

  • Fuji Xerox Iridesse sparkles for Steve Green

    The Iridesse in Fuji Xerox’s new North Ryde showroom with Steve Ford (left) and Steve Green.

    A new production press and a new role for the industry veteran sets the scene for the graphic’s supplier fresh start in 2018.

    Following a tough few years, Fuji Xerox is moving to reassert its dominance in the digital printing sector with an upmarket production press, the Iridesse. The six-colour engine utilising two metallics, gold and silver, was launched last month in Bangkok. The first installation is due in Australia before Christmas.

    A showroom model is currently attracting a lot of attention from Fuji Xerox customers at the company’s new Australian headquarters and show room in North Ryde. The Iridesse is slated to fit into the product portfolio between the best selling C1000i model and the iGen5 at top of the production range.

    According to Green who took up his role as executive general manager sales, six weeks ago, the response from customers is very encouraging. “You can see them tuning out during the demo as they begin imagining the new markets they could service. So far we’ve show it to about forty people and the response is very positive,” he said.

    A notable feature of the press is its ability to switch the metallic, gold and silver, from first to last, i.e. on the top or bottom of the cmyk print. Due to the development of a totally new ink set, this ensures a very realistic metallic effect.

    According to Steve Ford, GM sales and marketing Asia Pacific, the press surprises printers with its ability to create the metallic effects. “They don’t know what can be done until they see it in operation,” he said.

    The Iridesse is targeted at new digital applications, including packaging, with designers able to specify up 60 different metallic. Green sees it as a fresh start for Fuji Xerox. As a new member of the team he’s determined to put the company’s fairly troubled past behind it and he’s “looking forward to the New Year with the Iridesse.”

    Expect a celebratory launch of the press in the local market next year.