Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

  • IPEX is gone – iconic UK trade show pulls the plug

    IPEX London 2014.

    Bowing to the inevitable the organisers of IPEX have called it quits following two disastrous trade shows, one in London where it broke tradition by moving to the capital, the second a vain attempt to return to its spiritual home in Birmingham.

    According to Rob Fisher, the exhibition’s event director, the organisers blamed changing market conditions rather than accept any blame. “The changing market conditions and appetite for a large-scale event which focuses on Print in Action continues to be challenging. Having engaged with a range of exhibitors and partners to evaluate the options for IPEX, we have concluded that the requirements of the industry no longer match our own in terms of the cycle, scale and what is required to help us further support and fully invest in the brand.

    “Through IPEX, we’re proud to have played a role in an important and diverse industry, and to have supported a brand that has such a long history. We enjoyed organising and delivering IPEX 2017 and received positive feedback from exhibitors, many of whom recorded excellent levels of interest and sales at the event. We’d like to wish our partners, exhibitors, and everyone we’ve worked with on IPEX every success as the industry continues to evolve.”

    According to Andy McCourt, associate editor of Print21 and a long-term supporter of the show, the fault lay not in the stars but with some fundamental flaws in management.

    “It’s an understandable move by Informa Exhibitions. The lesson should have been learned long ago – never move away from your market; nurture and cherish your customers and most of all – don’t piss the trade media off!”

    IPEX long held a special place in the heart of the Australian and New Zealand Printing industries. With many print company owners proudly wearing a London School of Printing credential, the opportunity to add on a few weeks tax-free holiday in the ‘old country’ made the show a much loved pilgrimage.

    With the easy familiarity of language and custom, locals flocked in their hundreds to the National Convention Centre in Birmingham. The Print21 IPEX barbeque was a highlight of the industry’s social calendar.

    “Sad to see it go really, but it’s what Andy McCourt says, stay close to your market,” lamented Patrick Howard, former Print21 publisher, who along with McCourt, organised the famed barbeques. “But we still have drupa.”




  • Making web-to-print work for you

    Online ordering is taking off, and many printers are cashing in on the trend by investing in web-to-print (W2P) systems that promise to slash costs and boost efficiency. EFI’s Daniel Aloi (right) examines the benefits that web-to-print has to offer.

    W2P systems allow printers to automate and streamline their ordering processes through a web-based portal. Customers can upload their les directly and pay online, removing the need for sales staff to spend hours on the phone taking customer orders to exact specifications.

    Often, the W2P software will plug directly into your MIS and even the printer’s RIP, which bypasses time-consuming and expensive pre-press procedures. EFI’s Digital StoreFront, for example, comes bundled with our print suite packages, and interfaces directly with MIS software and Fiery RIP for a hands-o process. It frees up staff that would otherwise be busy with pre-press to take on higher-value tasks.

    W2P can also help open up new market opportunities and expand the range of services you offer your clients. For example, companies such as Vistaprint have made great use of W2P software for short-run, on- demand and bespoke printing jobs. Variable data and W2P go hand-in- hand, with applications ranging from simple business cards and stationery printing to major direct marketing campaigns.

    It’s all about the customer

    A lot depends on getting the right type of customer to take advantage of what a W2P system can do. As a print service provider investing in W2P, it’s vital to talk to your clients and tell them the benefits of using it – some customers will take to W2P with great enthusiasm, while for others it may take time to adopt new processes and ways of ordering. Those customers who do embrace W2P contribute a significant saving while improving profit margins.

    When introducing W2P into your operations, it’s a good idea to sell existing customers on the technology first before trying to use it to win new business. Start small, with something like simple stock ordering, before moving up to fulfilment, non-print items, and ad-hoc work.

    (Read Daniel’s complete blog here in the latest issue of Print21 magazine.)

  • 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.

  • Currie Group launches 2018 Roadshow

    David Currie, chairman and Bernie Robinson, managing director, Currie Group with the mobile showroom.

    Currie Group’s mobile showroom has hit the road on its 2018 Roadshow, trucking the latest graphic arts technology around the country to provide print service providers with hands-on access to the latest solutions.

    The first stop is in Brisbane, where the Mobile Showroom is already set-up at the Currie Group offices at Unit 1, 87 Webster Road, Stafford.

    The iconic Currie Truck will be showcasing inline automated booklet production via the innovative combination of an HP Indigo 7900 Digital Press with a Horizon 200 Series bookletmaker – a world first at PacPrint 2017.

    The combination delivers true ‘end-to-end’ productivity and solutions and is a perfect illustration of automated printing. The Horizon booklet maker takes the sheets from the HP Indigo and, in one operation, stitches, folds and 3-way trims, to deliver a finished product onto the conveyor at the far end, all without a single touch point.

    The Roadshow will boast an impressive range of equipment from HP Indigo and HP PageWide XL, Horizon, Foliant and CRON, providing demonstrations on fully integrated print solutions.

    The Roadshow will next move on to Albury in NSW (9-10 May) then Adelaide, South Australia (23-24 May).

    The team at Currie Group invite you to join them this week for the Queensland Roadshow that will provide hands-on access to the very latest solutions.

    To register for the Roadshow events, click here.


  • 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.”





  • Winds of Change – Anthony Lewis leaves Konica Minolta

    Anthony Lewis.

    High-profile industry identity, Anthony Lewis, finished his role with Konica Minolta last week and is looking forward to new opportunities.

    The dynamic and very dapper, Lewis, headed up the company’s thrust into ‘industrial printing’ over the past three years.

    “I’m very proud of the work we’ve done. I think we made a difference, “ he said. “I’m keen to continue my engagement with the industry, especially in sales and marketing where I think I can bring good value to companies.”

    He backed off giving any reasons for the company’s decision to let him go. “I’ve had a very good time with Konica Minolta. They obviously have their reasons. They’re doing a lot of reorganising. It’s just the way it goes.”



  • Brilliant deal! Andy McCourt on the Xerox takeover

    Global Fujifilm HQ in Tokyo.

    The news that Fujifilm will take a controlling interest in Xerox Corp was not entirely unexpected but the mechanism of the deal certainly is. There were a lot of back-stories in play, not the least the unhappy large shareholders of Xerox stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

    The largest, Carl Icahn with 9.7% together with Darwin Deason, who sold his company Affiliated Computer Services to Xerox in 2010 for USD$6.4 billion and is the third largest stockholder, are about to get a handsome bonus each. The proposed deal includes a USD$2.5 billion special dividend to all shareholders. That equates to around USD$242,500,000 for Icahn Enterprises and about USD$150 million for Deason, who lives mostly on a fabulous 220-foot yacht in the Caribbean when he’s not in Dallas, TX.

    As recently as January 17 this year, Deason was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying: “At a time when the [Xerox] board should be aggressively pursuing our shareholder rights to terminate the Fuji [sic] venture and liberate the company globally, to instead plot in secret in violation of the law to cook up a short-term band-aid is insufficient and unwise in the extreme and warrants shareholder action.” Phew!

    Carl Icahn (Image by

    Sheer brilliance in the deal!

    Nevertheless, Icahn and Deason plus any other disaffected Xerox stockholders can hardly complain about their recent good fortunes – a big special bonus plus a rising Xerox stock price. Neither did they succeed in ousting Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson and that may prove to be a very good thing. I have known Jacobson since his Kodak Polychrome Graphics days and he is a battle-hardened leader who knows this industry inside-out.

    This is the first part of the brilliance of the deal by Fujifilm Holdings – the disruptive shareholders should now be quieter and content with their massive paydays and are holding stock which, so far is on the rise despite Xerox’s reporting a loss in the last quarter of 2017. Not that Mr Icahn needs the extra millions; his nett worth is reported to be bigger than Xerox’s annual revenue of USD$17 billion.

    The second brilliant aspect of this deal is the way in which it is constructed. President Trump may have written the book called ‘The Art of the Deal’ but, providing the Xerox deal passes US securities scrutiny, Fujifilm Chairman Shigetaka Komori should perhaps consider writing ‘The Architecture of a Deal’ to add to his published workInnovating out of Crisis.

    The standout aspect of Fujifilm’s leveraged control plan for Xerox (it is not a ‘buy’ until approved by shareholders and the US securities people – which may take months, it is scheduled to complete in July-August); is that there will be no cash outflow from Fujifilm Holdings. How can this be?

    No money down

    The elegance of this deal is that Fuji Xerox will buy back its own 75% of shares owned by Fujifilm Holdings, for USD$6.1 billion. This money will be sourced from institutional borrowings. The other 25% is already owned by Xerox Inc. Thus Fuji Xerox becomes a 100% subsidiary of Xerox Inc. Maybe for one day anyway.

    What happens next is pure magic. Fujifilm Holdings will use its USD$6.1 billion from the sale of its stake in Fuji Xerox (Asia and ANZ) to acquire a 50.1% controlling interest in Xerox and gain seven board seats, with Mr Komori as Chairman. The remaining 49.9% of shareholders will hold stock that is currently appreciating in value. Because of the improved efficiencies in the ‘new’ Fuji Xerox, some analysts have estimated the extra value delivered to shareholders is around a 50%+ premium on current closing share price. This includes the special bonus and the appreciated stock.

    Furthermore, these shareholders will receive the one-off special dividend of about USD$9.80 per share; a total of $2.5 billion paid from the newly unified company and financed by Citigroup and Morgan Stanley. The $6.1 billion loaned by institutions to Fuji Xerox for its share buy-back is repaid by the ‘new’ merged Fuji Xerox. Simples!

    Fujifilm’s only real outlay, apart from a lot of time and creativity, in this leveraged buy-in is about USD$2.5 million in advisor fees to Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities and Morgan Stanley. It’s as close to a win-win-win situation as can be in today’s market conditions.

    Track record of successful acquisitions

    Another advantage that Fujifilm can point to is its track record of responsible acquisition in the USA. In 2006 it acquired the struggling Dimatix-Spectra inkjet division of Markem, which focussed mainly on product marking and encoding. Today Fujifilm Dimatix is the leading supplier of printhead technology for high quality graphic applications and its Samba printheads are to be found in Heidelberg, Landa and Inca machines. This was achieved by investment in R&D and Fujifilm’s belief that inkjet was the way forward in graphic arts.

    Printheads without ink are like razors without blade sales, so in 2005 Fujifilm also acquired two inkjet ink companies, Sericol in the UK/global for UV and screen inks and Avecia, a former ICI chemical subsidiary, for dye and pigmented aqueous inks, with manufacturing in Delaware, USA. It is thought that the Delaware plant, now Fujifilm Colorants, makes or has made OEM ink for the ‘big 3’ of Canon, HP and Epson. Because inkjet ink is the most valuable liquid on the planet, secrecy rules.

    All of these acquisitions by Fujifilm have proved very successful as it sought to diversify away from photochemical dependence in the digital era. Through a pre-existing agreement with Sericol, Fujifilm also inherited the global sales channel for Inca Onset flatbed UV presses – the world’s most productive.

    So, when Fujifilm buys or acquires businesses, it works out very well and there is no reason to expect the Xerox deal to be any different. It invests in R&D, it streamlines, albeit with regrettable job losses and it gets it right with innovative and creative management and strategies.

    As a side benefit, the much publicised accounting and HR scandals in New Zealand and Australia with attendant lawsuits both-ways, will no doubt disappear into the mists of time, eventually.

    A fresh start in a difficult market

    This is a fresh start for Xerox and a purgative for Fuji Xerox; it makes complete sense for all involved – shareholders, customers and the industry in general. There’s a tough road ahead and sadly there will be the loss of some 10,000 jobs in Asia-Pacific and no doubt in ANZ as the synergies of the two organisations fuse together – assuming no roadblocks emerge along the way.

    In 1996, I was privileged to visit Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC) in California and was astounded to discover that here, in what amounted to a corporately-funded university, were invented the PC, the GUI, Ethernet, the laser printer, PostScript PDL, the mouse and a host of other IT innovations that we now take for granted.

    Xerox failed to capitalise on any of these major innovations and others picked them up, so today we have Apple, Microsoft, Adobe and others. It’s a safe bet that Fujifilm will not let any future innovations of this kind slip through their fingers.


  • Issue 980 – February 2, 2018. Fujifilm SPECIAL report

    The buyout of Xerox by Fujifilm is a historic moment not only in the printing industry but also in global commerce and technology markets. Few brands have the iconic stature of Xerox. The invention of xerography by Chester Carlson in 1938 is a US 20th century milestone that changed the way the whole world works. Few brands have had such an impact. The Xerox name even became a verb, a call to action; to xerox something is to copy it, plain and simple.

    That ownership of Xerox now moves to Fujifilm in Japan speaks volumes for the failure of US manufacturers to adapt to the 21st century. Kodak is a prime example. It also reinforces the dominance of Japanese businesses in the printing and graphic arts. A roll call of Japanese manufacturers is an encyclopedia of the printing industry; Epson, Konica Minolta, Canon, Screen, Ricoh, Komori, Horizon, Mitsubishi, Duplo, Mutoh, Mimaki and more.

    Fujifilm bestrides the sector in many ways and will now move to even greater prominence. It has proven itself to be a nimble and courageous innovator, transforming itself from a photochemical manufacturer into a world leading, all-round, technology business with a strong focus on printing. On this occasion it’s fair to say that what’s good for Fujifilm and its new subsidiary Xerox, is good for the printing industry.

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

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor.

  • 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.


  • Spicers announces paper price hike for 2018

    Paper merchant Spicers will follow its competitors and introduce price rises of six to eight percent for its entire range of commercial printing papers from February. Prices on coated, uncoated, digital and carbonless grades will increase by 8%, and all other grades by 6%.

    Manufacturers globally, continue to raise their prices on papers and boards purchased by Spicers and other distributors. Spicers will be announcing a forthcoming increase on all products within its commercial print portfolio.

    David Martin, Spicers.

    “It has always been Spicers policy to mitigate the severity of any price rise where possible, however a significant number of paper mills have now implemented more than one increase over the past 6 months, and we are also keeping an eye on movements into the new year” says David Martin, CEO of Spicers. “We truly appreciate our customers’ ongoing support”.

    The new pricing will become effective as of Thursday 1st February 2018. The increase will see coated, uncoated, digital and carbonless grades increase by 8% while  all other grades will increase by 6%.

    The company said that implementing price increases is not taken lightly and it has advised customers ahead of this announcement, to give as much notice as possible.


  • Ball & Doggett makes its move on paper rises

    That’s a clean sweep for paper rises in the new year with all paper merchants flagging prices increase of up to 8%.

    The last domino to fall is the biggest one, Ball & Doggett, which dipped out on a mid-year price rise due to its merger activities. Spicers, the second largest merchant put its prices up in July and may possibly move again in the New Year. Direct also posted a price rise this month.

    Mill price rises leave the local merchant community with little opportunity to absorb any further costs. Pulp prices rise in excess of 12% since January are identified as one of the major components fuelling the price rise. Increasing appetite for paper in China is putting increasing pressure on prices globally. Increases in energy and freight prices are also in the mix.

    Ball & Doggett are indicating that as of Thursday Feb 1, 2018 prices for its paper and board will rise;

    • Coated Paper & Board – 8%
    • Uncoated Paper & Board Sheets & Reels– 8%
    • Self Adhesive Sheets – 6%
    • Specialty Papers – 6%
    • Packaging Boards – 9%
    • Carbonless Sheets & Reels – 8%
    • Cutsize Copy Papers – 6%
    • Synthetics Sheets & Reels – 6%
    • Rigid Media – 6%
    • Industrial Packaging Grades – 5 to 10%

    Paper prices continue to be at historical lows, with little appetite in the industry to accept increases. However, this time around it seems printers will have little choice other than to bite down hard and accept the price rises.


  • Theo Pettaras wins Konica Minolta award

    Anthony Lewis, the founding father of the Konica Minolta National Specialised Print Awards.

    Second year for the National Specialised Print Awards reinforces its place in the industry calendar with more entries than before.

    The customer-centric competition has a mission to highlight the quality of digital printing produced on Konica Minolta technology. Books, calendars, posters and even playing cards were among the finalists the awards held in Sydney last night.

    The over all winner was Digital Press, the Sydney-based printing company that has a full history of producing innovative and award winning print. Theo Pettaras paid tribute to the company for creating the awards in the first place, the only manufacturer with such a competition.

    He received the prizes of a trip to Print 2018 in Chicago next year, accompanied by his Konica Minolta account manager, Devan Nair.

    Winners are grinners; Anthony Lewis (right) congratulates Theo Pettaras who is very pleased with his prize of a trip to Chicago along with Devan Nair (left) his account manager at Konica Minolta.

    The night was particularly pleasing for Anthony Lewis general manager specialised print Konica Minolta. The awards are his brainchild and he professed to feeling very happy they were so well supported by both the customers and the company. “Watch this space,” he said. “They’re only going to grow bigger.”

    There were four categories to enter: digital flat sheet colour output, digital finished output, digital print with embellishment and digital print on label media.

    And the winners were:

    • Digitalpress for A Meeting of Words – Case Bound and white foil stamped
    • The Type Factory for Sketches – Japanese Bound with Curious Collection Translucent dividing sheets
    • Designline for Redlands City Council – Perfect Bound
    • Images on Paper for Finches in Australia ­­– Book Bound
    • Who you Creative for The Waratah – Offset Silver & Gold to Colour Digital Prints
    • Shire Labels for Urban Agent – Die cutting in rolls of 1000
    [Not a valid template]
  • Labor leader short on energy specifics – Macaulay

    Energetic debate: Bill Shorten with Andrew Macaulay.

    Any future ALP government would be a mixed bag for the printing industry with good news on training but little to cheer for in the energy prices that are bedevilling printers everywhere.

    Resulting from the prominent role that PIAA has taken in the national energy debate, Andrew Macaulay, CEO PIAA, was invited to attend Bill Shorten’s Sydney lunchtime presentation on policies for a future ALP government. While he was encouraged by some of the Labor leader’s points he is doubtful of the overall benefit for the printing industry of a change in government.

    “It’s a bit like the curate’s egg, good in parts,” he said. “I paid attention while he was speaking and afterwards plied him with questions in a face-to-face meeting. Overall I’m not convinced that he really understand the challenges facing the industry.”

    Shorten places a lot of emphasis on using renewables to contain soaring energy prices. “Our focus in the long-term is to help more and more small and medium businesses get their power prices down by making the move to renewable energy. Tens of thousands of small businesses have already utilised rooftop solar,” he said.

    Macaulay is unconvinced it’s a viable solution to the energy crisis, given the ACCC analysis that highlights the problem is much broader. He has held a number of meetings with ACCC Chairman Rod Sims, who joined him at the lunch. The ACCC analysis suggests that high energy prices are structural, compounded by failure to deliver base-load power. “These two problems must be addressed by an incoming Government if we are to see lower energy prices and increased reliability,” said Macaulay.

    On the other hand Macaulay praised the mooted creation of the $1 billion Australian Manufacturing Future Fund, which will be of assistance to printers in acquiring new presses and other equipment. In addition, Shorten’s vision for industry training aligns very closely with expectations of Printing Industries members. Macaulay applauded Shorten for these and has follow up meetings scheduled with the Opposition in Canberra to expand on this in the next fortnight.



  • Heidelberg pushes for packaging prominence

    Leading from the bridge, Rainer Hundsdörfer, CEO, Heidelberg.

    A massive new generation Speedmaster XL 145 topped the heavy metal array at the press manufacturer’s Wiesloch Print Media Academy’s customer event, while the first Primefire 106 digital inkjet is already installed at MPS packaging.

    Under new CEO, Rainer Hundsdörfer, and with the first slim profit reports in a few years, a revitalised Heidelberg has staked its claim to the growing packaging sector with a full on exhibition of its press power. Although a relatively late arrival to packaging there’s no doubt the company is pulling out all the stops to be a major player, as the commercial offset print sector where it still dominates, flatlines at best.

    Over 300 customers as well as a strong press contingent braved the gloomy November murk to attend the event. They were treated to an uncharacteristically upbeat Heidelberg with Hundsdorfer claiming the company is set to return to its ‘ traditional Lighthouse’ role as the leading print industry technology and service provider.

    A quick tour of the big hall filled with offset packaging presses and Masterwork (MK) finishing equipment reinforced the determination to win a good chunk of the growing packaging business. Everything that can be automated is automated and the data transferred to Heidelberg’s cloud where it adds to a massive store of information and production parameters.

    Stephan Plenz, board member responsible for the digital technology made the point that Heidelberg’s digital strategy goes far beyond digital printing. “We are pushing the industrialisation of packaging,” he said. “Automation is key.”

    The idea is to let the production run without stopping, for every new job to be lined up ready to go for automatic production. He termed it, “navigated autonomous printing.”

    It’s the next step beyond the fabled ‘one button printing.’ Now even on the largest offset press connected to Prinect workflow the purpose is to run without even the need for a printer to push a button between jobs.

    According to Rainer Wolf, vice president sheetfed, Heidelberg presses consistently outperform others. “The peak performance of a carton press is 83 million good B1 sheets on the floor over a full year period. While this is exceptional, there are 180 Heidelberg press installations clocking up more than 40 million sheets year over year.

    “The number of sheets on the floor is consistently higher than other presses, regardless of format,” he said.

    The drive is to make press operation into a manufacturing process with ten presses already signed on to Heidelberg’s innovative ‘subscription printing’ strategy. This is designed so customer’s only pay for what they use, with Heidelberg taking responsibility for making sure the press runs and is supplied for an optimum performance.

    Primefire in the market

    No matter how impressive the big metal was as it pumped out folding cartons in Wiesloch this week, most attention was focused on a system that wasn’t at the show. The first Primefire 106 was installed at Multi Packaging Solution, a WestRock packaging business specialising in cosmetic and personal care products. Located at Obersulum, not far from Heidelberg, its managing director Steffen Schnizer, took special pride ins showing off the new addition to the company’s broad array of Heidelberg presses.

    The Primefire 106 is a full size inkjet press that prints on treated carton stock with seven colours and a coater. The water-based process is claimed to be extremely stable and consistent.

    Journalists were given a tour of the factory and allowed climb over the Primefire in its specially air-conditioned chamber. Certainly the printers from MPS operating the press were firm in their recommendations of the press as an integrated production tool. While still early days, initial production runs have been very promising.

    Plenz promises there’ll be two more Primefire presses installed in beta sites by Christmas before the company ramps up into full production next March. The next two years of scheduled Primefire manufacturing is already sold but he promises to double the roll out to accommodate customers’ requirements.

    There’s little doubt that Heidelberg sees its future in packaging, which already accounts for more than a third of its turnover. It’s well on the way to doubling that based on this showing at Wiesloch.

    Read Patrick Howard’s exclusive interview with Rainer Hundsdörfer, CEO Heidelberg (right) in the next issue of Print21 magazine.



  • EFI claims big win with Kwik Kopy upgrade

    Silicon Valley signing for Digital Storefront; Guy Gecht, CEO EFI, (left) with Stephen Penfold, founder and chairman, Kwik Kopy Australia.

    More than 100 Kwik Kopy Print and Design Centres cross Australia will be upgrading their existing EFI PrintSmith Vision MIS workflow to include Digital StoreFront, EFI’s advanced web-to-print/ecommerce platform.

    Four sites in Sydney and Melbourne have already made the switch and according to Andy Yarrow, EFI Director Asia Pacific, the substantial agreement is further evidence of EFI’s renewed focus on Australia and its determination to remain the leading software provider in the region.

    The deal is a development of Kwik Kopy’s successful automated workflow partnership with EFI. Stephen Penfold, chairman and founder of Kwik Kopy Australia, went to the Silicon Valley headquarters of EFI to sign a new partnership agreement

    “EFI has been a valued partner for us, developing MIS and printer server solutions that help our franchisees generate a competitive edge in digital print. With this new agreement, we will also be establishing a stronger, highly automated web-to-print offering that further improves our total print workflows while making it easier for Kwik Kopy customers to do business with us,” he said.

    Kwik Kopy Australia is already using EFI PrintSmith Vision MIS workflow software across its franchises. Over the next several months those franchises will begin upgrading to EFI’s advanced web-to-print/ecommerce platform that seamlessly integrates with PrintSmith Vision.

    “EFI has proven to be a reliable and trusted strategic partner with PrintSmith Vision, which has allowed our centres to perform production tasks, scheduling and estimating and more in a complete yet straightforward package,” said Penfold. “In the past two years of testing, we have seen how the company’s Digital StoreFront product offers the right cloud-based design, ordering, ecommerce and storefront tools for our franchisees to build customer loyalty and expand their print and marketing offerings.”

    Kwik Kopy Australia Print & Design Centres will be able to improve client retention and satisfaction using the software’s award-winning online ordering capabilities, including a easy-to-use, single-page visual product builder for Kwik Kopy customers to upload files, select print options, preview their selections and receive a quote. One early adopter Kwik Kopy Centre already has an extremely successful implementation of the software, creating a custom storefront to handle print collateral for one of Australia’s largest restaurant chains.

    According to Yarrow, it’s about improving cost efficiency and helping Kwik Kopy franchises grow their businesses. “It’s all about taking costs out of doing business. Kwik Kopy franchises will now be able to access the web 24/7 with automated ordering, maximizing their profits. They’ll be able to trade around the clock. It’s a testament to the effort we are putting in to changing the industry from analogue to digital.”

    A significant number of Kwik Kopy Australia Print & Design Centres also use EFI Fiery DFEs for their digital printing equipment. Those DFEs can integrate with both Digital StoreFront and PrintSmith Vision, enabling near lights-out automation. As a result, many print jobs will be able to be routed from the web-to-print interface directly to a digital production device’s print queue, with billing/payment, delivery and other information communicated directly into PrintSmith Vision for streamlined accounting and job tracking management.

    “EFI invests more in time, resources and funding that any other developer to create efficient, robust integrated print workflow portfolios,” said Gabriel Matsliach, senior vice president and general manager, EFI Productivity Software. “We are proud to be able to deliver that technology to Kwik Kopy Australia – one of the nation’s largest networks of independent, family owned print businesses – to help those businesses grow and prosper.”

    The Kwik Kopy agreement follows on from EFI’s success with Snap, the other major printing franchise chain in the region. It puts the technology giant into an almost unassailable lead in small to medium printing installations