Archive for April, 2001

  • The Americans are coming

    Joe Manos and Trent O’Leary will on the ODIS stand to evangelise their on-line print procurement message to the local industry. They differentiate their business model by putting the printer at its centre, describing printers as ‘partners’ and the printer’s customers as ‘users’.
    The system has enjoyed considerable success in the USA, UK and France and the company claims it is coming to Australia in response to requests from printers here. In the US they say there are 100 printer partners and 500 major users of the system which has been around for about three years, forever in the volatile world of on-line print procurement systems.

    PrintChannel provides its ‘partners’ with a fully customizeable e-commerce interface for their procurement operations. This is most often accessed from the printer’s own web page where it resides as a link. The user dials up and enters an on-line page designed to meet their print-buying requirements.

    The printer brands everything and typically the page lists the type of print the user is accustomed to buying. Every user interface can be different to accommodate the different clients of the printer.

    Revenue to PrintChannel comes from a one-off fee for the set-up, design and training and thereafter a charge for the amount of space the site occupies on the US-based server farm. A typical US customer charge is $15,000.

    According to Joe Manos, PrintChannel has been successful because of the stability and robust nature of its operating platform and because of the level of support it gives to its ‘partners. “We are also one of the few print-centric systems in the world,” he said.

    In the on-line world different business and print procurement models are being tested everyday. The Australian developed OzePrint is fairly moribund with little promotion or development since fonder Tony Chadwick left.

    PrintChannel appears to have found a way to provide the type of web interface printers themselves would design. It’s obviously worth checking out, because like it or not, more print buying is going to migrate onto the net.

    It’s a case of either following it there or being there to greet itwhen it arrives.

  • BT and Scitex pull the plug on Vio worldwide.

    The closure of the Australian subsidiary of VIO in March took the industry by surprise but it was merely a foretaste of what was to come. The application service provider (ASP) backed by British Telecom and Scitex has now closed its doors after it failed to return any profits.

    Miranda Clegg, managing director, said the decision was taken last week “on purely financial grounds.”
    “It was clear that break-even was still some way off,” she said. There are conflicting reports as to the fate of the company’s 700 core network users and its additional 1,000 internet users. Initial plans were for the network to be supported until July but this is now uncertain.

    The demise has proved a boon for other ASPs, with WamNet in Australia picking up the lion’s share of its erstwhile competitor’s customers. Vio has 58 staff worldwide. In January Scitex failed to organise a management buyout for its share.

    Vio was a printing and graphic arts industry ASP, a narrow focus which analysts blame for its failure to gain sufficient traffic. In fairness it can be said that the industry has remained hugely unimpressed with all on-line service providers, spurning their profit making add-ons in favour of simple traffic management.

    Recent share market savaging and massive investments by BT in the G3 spectrum plumbed the depth of even its deep pockets. The size of the investments made by BT and Scitex in Vio is unknown, although according to Print DotCom, Ms Clegg said, “they were substantial.”

  • Keen interest in Diamond Press but split-up is on the cards.

    Weeding out the serious prospects from the tyrekickers, Ferrier Hodgson’s Brian Silvia has inked 20 confidentiality agreements with applicants for financial details of the troubled group. The flood of requests came as a result of an extensive advertising campaign in the national press for buyers.

    A creditors committee meeting last week agreed to extend the period of administration to enable Silvia to wrap up a sale. “The reality is that it is unlikely that we would be in a position to formulate a deed of agreement by the end of April,” said Silvia.
    Although court approval is required there is little prospect of permission being refused.

    Confidentiality clauses prevent the disclosure of the names of companies who have registered interest. With turnover of $115 million and debt of $160 million, industry observers expect a break-up of the group rather than a sale as a single entity. Book value of the assets is $191.5 million.

    In an address to the creditor’s meeting John Spira, founder and owner of Diamond Press said, “Obviously in the first five months we recorded very good trading … in the third week of March the situation had deteriorated. The actual orders that were made were half of what they were last year. Usually the margin falls in January and returns in February, but this time it stayed down. By the end of March, I came to the conclusion that fundamentally the trading position of the company had changed.
    “In 29 years of trading I’ve never seen such a dramatic decline. Year on year, we’ve always been able to achieve significant growth. I think Diamond Press has got a very good future. Hopefully something can be sorted out and the 370 employees can retain their jobs, and in an ideal world, all the creditors will be paid in full.”

    How this will affect the proposed merger of IPMG and PMP is speculative, with the ACCC adopting a close-mouthed approach to its industry consultation. Spira nominated the competitive effect of the merger as one of the reasons why he called in the administrators. His decision followed hard on the heels of the announcement of the proposed merger. IMPG (formerly Hannanprint) and Diamond have long been seen as bitter rivals in the industry.

    For those who came in late, Diamond Press is regarded as the third largest printing company in Australia and as the only serious competitor to IPMG and PMP in the heatset web market (magazines, glossy brochures). The IPMG/PMP merged entity would dominate this sector with an estimated 75 per cent market share, although both parties dispute this figure. News Limited and Fairfax are reported to be among those who have lodged objections against the deal going through.

  • CTP and digital proofing slice into film sales.

    CreoScitex, the leading supplier of thermal CTP devices, confirms it is installing as many platesetters as film imagesetters for the first time ever this year. Agfa, another major supplier, also reports that sales of the two technologies are almost equal.

    The numbers validate anecdotal evidence that this is the year when the Australian industry finally commits to the new(ish) technology. Plummeting film sales and soaring thermal plates numbers are also evidence that CTP is having a dramatic impact on workflows. Thermal plate sales doubled in 1999-2000 and are predicted to double again this year.

    According to Steve Dunwell, sales and marketing director CreoScitex Australia, the firm’s Lotem and Trendsetter CTPs are being installed in increasing numbers. “We are now selling as many CTP machines as filmsetters and after PacPrint I expect we will be selling even more,” he said. He claims CreoScitex has the largest installed base of large format CTP engines in the country.

    The move towards CTP is increasing as the first generation of film imagesetters are reaching their used by date. PostScript imagesetters first began to be installed in large numbers in the early 1990s. Many are now due for replacement and companies are taking the opportunity to consider switching to CTP.

    One such company is William Brooks, printer of the White Pages and Yellow Pages, which has moved to a Trendsetter VLF (Very Large Format) when the two imagesetters it was using came up for replacement.

    Agfa maintains it is selling twice as many visible (violet) light CTP engines as thermal, claiming that despite the publicity the industry is still ambivalent about the virtues of the two technologies.

    A side effect of the CTP advance is the increasing acceptance of digital proofing, even where film imagesetters are still being used. According to Peter Hook of Kodak Polychrome Graphics, the digital proofing effect is having just as large an impact on film sales as CTP. Without the need to output four sheets of colour film before drawing a proof, which may resultant in corrections that scraps the original, there is much less use of film. He maintains that only the increase in the use of colour printing is alleviating the decline in film sales.

  • Fuji Xerox Australia becomes service centre for Pacific Basin.

    Over 20 highly qualified electrical engineers and computer scientists will provide high-level technical support to Fuji Xerox customers in 12 countries in the Pacific Basin. Over $3 million worth of equipment has been installed at the company’s Technology Centre in Sydney in order to be able to simulate any hardware or software problem experienced by users. Previously these high-level technical problems had to be dealt with in the USA and Europe.

    According to Philip Chambers, MD Fuji Xerox Australia, the creation of the new support centre is a tremendous achievement for the company and the country. “This is a recognition of the excellence of our technical people in Australia and of Sydney as a regional service site,” he said.

    Fuji Xerox customers will be answered by someone who speaks their language, although, as most of the problems referred to the centre will have already been escalated from local level, the lingua franca is English. As an example of the type of complexity faced by the staff George Nides, general manager, said that there are over 20 different types of RIPs driving digital printing throughout the region.

    The centre has been established with support from the NSW Department of State and Regional Development, and the Commonwealth’s Invest Australia.

  • Surge in PacPrint pre-registrations prompts hopes of record turnout.

    More than 14,000 industry professionals have registered for the show with hundreds more reported to be coming in every week.
    Organisers are pleased at the response with PacPrint chairman, Rod Spencer, putting it down to the shift in focus of the exhibition’s marketing campaign.

    “At first the campaign was targeted at exhibitors but now that we have nearly a full house, it has switched to attracting visitors,” he said.

    An extensive promotional campaign of direct mail and advertisements appears to have generated the desired result. If pre-registrations continue at this rate there will be a record number signed up to attend before the exhibition doors open.

    Meanwhile the Prime Minister’s office is reported to be considering an invitation for John Howard to open the show, which is the largest manufacturing exhibition in the country.

    PacPrint runs for five days, May 15-19 at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

  • Film and plates price rise warning.

    While equipment suppliers have been able to factor in the movements of the Australian dollar, suppliers of film and plates have been left exposed. Consumable contracts rarely have currency fluctuations factored in.

    Despite some rises late last year suppliers are hurting and claim they will be unable to maintain prices at current levels for much longer despite fierce competition. Rises of between three and five per cent in film and plates are flagged over the next few months with some suppliers indicating they need even larger hikes to regain acceptable margins.

    “The exchange rates have really beaten us up and we’ve been absorbing the punishment. But there has to be a rise this year,” said one supplier.

    There was unexpected unanimity among the suppliers, with claims that the real cost of the exchange rate movements is in excess of 20 per cent over two years. A supply-side estimate is that as little as five per cent of this has been passed on to printers.

    The price squeeze comes as a result of intense competition, especially in film and from entrenched market resistance. Industry consolidation is a factor in delivering to the larger companies more customer clout.

  • Export task force takes on the USA

    A weak dollar, excess printing capacity and the ready availability of Government money combined with the legislative changes, has finally overcome the industry’s traditional reluctance to look beyond the domestic market.
    PMP, McPhersons and Avon Graphics are among the network of firms that have initiated a market survey of the possibility of printing books and periodicals for publishers in America. The imminent implementation of parallel importation of books and magazines removes one of the major shelters for the local book printing industry against international competition.

    One of the key recommendations of Print 21, the industry survey released in March was for the industry to explore its options for exporting print. Funds have now been released from the EPIC (Enhanced Printing Industries Competitiveness) fund to commission Austrade officers in Los Angeles to draw up a list of 200 publishers in the US and ascertain their willingness to consider importing print from Australia.

    Print 21 recommends that printers interested in pursuing their export potential should form networks with like-minded partners to explore the market options. Printing Industries is playing a coordinating role in the current task force, which is expected to have a report available before Q4.

    Other export recommendations of Print 21 is for the local industry to research national printing industries and major companies overseas which have been successful in developing export markets. Singapore and Hong Kong are the printing powerhouses in the region with the majority of their printing going in export.

  • Buscombe Vicprint and Prestige Plates merge.

    There will be no redundancies among the more than 250 employees involved in the merger between Buscombe Vicprint and the Prestige Plate Group (PPG). Citing the growth strategy behind the move, Alistair Hill, CEO of the newly named, Buscombe Limited, said he hoped all the employees would take up the offer to join the larger group.

    “Buscombe Limited will retain existing PPG staff who will provide strong management and industry expertise to complement the existing core competencies of the BVL team,” he said.

    The PPG business consists of a number of well-known prepress and printing firms in different states: Southport Printing, In Kolour and Splash Colour in Queensland, Prestige Plates in NSW, and Chanel Press at Sunshine, Victoria. The merger sees Chanel Press staff and equipment move to the two-year-old Mount Waverley headquarters of Buscombe. All will trade under the Buscombe Limited banner.

    Private investors own both companies and at this stage Hill maintains there are no further expansion plans in the offing.
    “We’ll take our time and bed this one down before we think any further,” he said.

    Buscombe, which identifies itself as “a Heidelberg shop”, will inherit two large Komoris at Mount Waverley to complement its Speedmaster 102s as a result of the merger. The Queensland printing operation is entirely Komori.

    Only the Mount Waverley plant has installed CTP with a Trendsetter already in operation. This will be joined by the first Heidelberg Topsetter CTP in the country in time for PacPrint.

    Buscombe claims leadership position in direct mail special products, utilising a Hunkler mailer as well as folders and gluers to create the complex, personalised pieces. Hill describes it as a very stable part of the business.
    “The merger will take advantage of the synergies between the two companies and create a new company with unparalleled assets and the ability to deliver an unmatched selection of services, nationwide,” he said. “The expanded service will bring great benefits to our clients. For shareholders, it means we’ll be able to grow in ways we couldn’t have as separate companies.”

  • News items… short takes… more news… contact us with your news

    A generational change on the supply side of the industry takes place with the announcement that Alf Carrigan, deputy managing director of CPI Group will retire after PacPrint, June 1, 2001. An industry veteran and prominent identity for many years, Alf Carrigan is perhaps best known for creating and building the graphics business unit of the company during the years when it was owned by Sicpa. Under his direction a disparate collection of agencies was welded into one of the industry’s major equipment suppliers. He relinquished day to day control of the unit last year and has been working on special projects. Undoubtedly he will spend this PacPrint catching up with industry friends and making his farewells. Happy trails, Alf.

    Australian printers are invited to submit entries for one of the world’s most prestigious printing competitions, the International Gallery of Superb Printing run by the International Association
    of Printing House Craftsmen (IAPHA), a Minneapolis-based industry organisation. Interest has been sparked by the submission of an entry by Owen Morris at Buscombe Limited. Details and entry forms can be down loaded from or contact Kevin Keane and he’ll send you an entry form.


    US demand for printing inks is expected to expand by about five per cent per year, to $5.6 billion in 2004, according to a report by Freedonia, Cleveland, quoted by Graphics Resource Centre. Growth will be driven by a shift toward more expensive digital and energy-cured inks. Demand for inks that result in higher-quality colour printing especially for advertising and packaging will also fuel demand. Digital ink demand is expected to grow about 11per cent per year to $290 million in 2004, because of emerging technologies in digital printing and rapid expansion of the ink jet print process. Digital inks, however, will only account for 5 per cent of total ink demand.


    Graphic arts magazine, Australian Printer, appears to be developing a revolving door syndrome as staff pass through at a blistering rate. Latest casualty is editor Jim Mahoney who fell foul of group publisher, Bruce Macdonald. Initially the official reason for his departure concerned immigration problems for Kiwi Jim, but a late night phone call told a different tale of differences over who got to drive the company car. On such matters do whole lives revolve. Macdonald is currently shouldering the burden of the editor’s role in addition to his many others. (Declaration of interest: Patrick Howard, publisher of Graphics On-Line was the previous long-term editor of AP.)


    Seven Sydney, the internationally connected prepress house in Sydney has decided to get out of digital printing. According to executive Peter O’Hanlon, it is in negotiations with Xerox on the fate of its Docucolor 70. He claims the market for personalisation had not developed as expected and that most digital printers in the country were simply “performing as short-run presses. And you can’t compete like that.”


    The burn rate continues for print e-commerce sites with PrintNation in the US the latest to hit the wall. The pioneering site was once regarded as ‘most likely to succeed’ due to its innovative approach and substantial financial backing. It has now shut up shop leaving only this message on it derelict web site.
    “PrintNation has closed its doors and is no longer accepting orders. It has been a privilege serving the printing community. Many thanks to the employees, manufacturers, suppliers, partners and customers who have supported our efforts for the past two years. Thanks again for shopping at PrintNation.”


    And we got it wrong in the last edition of Graphics On-Line (it didn’t take long, did it?). PrintChannel is not one of the numerous e-commerce sites to go under. Irate e-mails from the US pointed out that it is going strong and has the wherewithal to last out the current difficult times. Our apologies and “Good Luck Guys.”

    Not so lucky is PaperHub, which joined the lemmings in their pelt over the cliff. Paperhub, a web-based hub that supported content, community, collaboration and commerce in the paper industry on a shared operating platform, has become “insolvent” and will discontinue operations.


    China is planning to impose import duties on printing equipment of between 30-40 per cent this year. Bernhard Schreier, Heidelberg’s chairman, is travelling to Beijing hoping to persuade the Chinese government not to introduce the new taxes. Last year Heidelberg sales in China were Eur5bn, up by 70 per cent on the previous year, making China the company’s third largest market after the US and Germany. Schreier says there is a huge need for printing equipment in China since the average person spends only $3 a year on printed items, compared with $300 in Germany and $600 in Japan.


    Does this sound at all familiar? British printers are suffering from excess market capacity and a slow start to the spring upturn, according to the latest industry survey from the BPIF reported by DotPrint. With paper prices increasing and labour cost increases to come later this month, margins continue to be squeezed and printers are cautious about predicting an increase in business. While they accept there will be some improvement, it is likely to be less this year than in the past. Only a quarter are currently planning to buy new presses and other equipment.


    What does this example of corporate-speak mean? – DuPont today announced it will further align resources consistent with the specific missions of its individual businesses.
    Give up? It means the company will cut its workforce by about 4,000, or four per cent. DuPont will also reduce the number of contract personnel by about 1,300 and shut down less competitive manufacturing plants. Projected annual payroll savings, including reduction in contractor costs, will be $400 million.


    What’s on at PacPrint -– Count down

    New vinyl banner material, backlight material for light boxes, clearfilm, canvas and synthetics are just some of the broad new range of non-proofing media offerings being launched by CyraChrome at PacPrint 2001.
    “What separates our new range of non-proofing stock from other materials on the market is that all our new media has been quality-tested for print quality with Epson piezo technology,” explains Andy McCourt, CyraChrome marketing manager. “CyraChrome has invested a great deal of time and resources into RIP’ing, calibrating and testing Epson ColorTuner systems with different stocks. We
    are bringing this range of new media to the market with this quality testing already established so that the customer is not the one who has to wear the costs and problems associated with such trial and error testing.”


    At PacPrint, Fuji Xerox Australia, in conjunction with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), will launch a new training initiative, designed to be a benchmark for digital print production systems. “Printing started as an art and is now a high tech manufacturing process like any other,” claims Patrick Bernau, industry marketing manager for the graphic arts. “Printed material is now a commodity item. Nowadays, it is very difficult to obtain a competitive advantage using equipment only. The main way for companies to differentiate is through service – timeliness and quality, and building strong and mutually beneficial relationships with customers.”
    According to Robert Black, Industry Training Manager, RMIT, the new training initiative will prepare participants for the inevitable evolution in digital production processes.
    “Document production will enter a revolutionary phase within the next five to ten years with the development of cost-competitive full colour digital printing equipment designed to deliver high volume/ low cost personalised documents. This alliance with Fuji Xerox will ensure that RMIT students, internal and external, will be fully prepared for future change. The course intends to attract new entrants into the print industry and expects to expose up to 1000 students to digital print technology on an annual basis.”


    Folk’s announces it has been appointed to supply the New Xante Colour Laser Printer to this market. This Xante ColourLaser Pro 1200 is designed with printers and graphic designers in mind. It features 1200dpi, ColourMatch software, oversize A3 printing, up to 175lpi screen and many other features not found in standard colour lasers. The machine also opens the opportunity for small printers to be able to run short-run colour jobs. More details from Peter Folk, 03 9419 8666

  • Short takes… more news… bits & pieces… contact us with your news.


    PaperlinX has announced a new operating structure for its New Zealand merchant operations. Armitron Paper and Dalton Fine Paper NZ Ltd will be merged and will trade under the “Dalton” name. Spicers Paper, New Zealand’s largest merchant, will be unaffected by the change.


    This month sees the launch of Acrobat 5, a major upgrade to the open document program from Adobe. The latest version allows recipients to edit the text in documents they receive. This is a major breakthrough. The program is internet friendly and has a re-worked GUI. Price for the upgrade is a steepish $500.


    New D-Print Designer Campaign is giving free digital colour printing to designers while participating printers get the chance to win a trip to IPEX, Birmingham, or On Demand, New York in 2002. The promotion from Fuji Xerox Australia, in conjunction with Design Graphics magazine, is aimed at encouraging designers to use colour digital printing. Entrants will receive free digital print vouchers for 50 x A4 or 25 X A3 duplex prints.
    More info: Patrick Bernau
    Fuji Xerox Australia
    0410 692019


    TecPrint Publisher calls in the administrator. Waivcom, publisher of Desktop and TecPrint magazines, got caught by one of its subsidiaries, Hotel Link Marketing which ran an Asian-based hotel loyalty program that ceased trading. According to sources, management has given assurances that the graphic arts magazines will continue trading under administration. The company also publishes a range of hospitality and tourist-focused magazines.


    Increases of 200% in sales of CTP plates, helped Fuji to a record year in 2000 with overall revenue up by 20%. Sales of imagesetters, CTP engines and scanners were up by 10%. This year a new range of scanners, a four-page Baby Sumo filmsetter and a new positive plate that will work with more aggressive chemistry are on the launch pad.


    Erez Meltzer has stepped down as president of CreoScitex and as Creo Products’ chief operating officer. Although no reason has been given for the abrupt departure, industry sources suggest there were differences of opinion regarding the strategic direction of the company.
    Meltzer has been president of CreoScitex since it was created 12 months ago when Scitex sold its preprint activities to Creo Products. He will be working for the next couple of months with his successor, Michael Rolant, who is currently the Israeli company’s vice-president for business operations.


    Heidelberg owner, RWE AG, is to sell up to 6.15 % of its 56.15 percent holding in Heidelberger Druckmaschinen on the capital market. This will increase Heidelberg’s free float to well in excess of 20 %.
    The company welcomes this decision: “The increase in the free float is the first fruit of the joint efforts of Heidelberg and its major shareholders to substantially increase the share of capital freely traded on the market,” said Bernhard Schreier, Chairman.


    Goss is acting under a US law dating back to 1916 in its anti-dumping case against MAN Roland, KBA, Mitsubishi and Tokyo Kikai Seisakusho for selling their presses at 39% to 59% below fair value in the USA. The company was given the go ahead to pursue its claim through the courts alleging that the press manufacturers dumped presses with the intention of damaging Goss’ business. However under the antiquated law, even if it wins, it will not be able to claim punitive damages.


    More news here…. from you!

  • MAN Roland is not up for sale.

    Rudolf Rupprecht, ceo of the MAN engineering group, has moved to squash rumours that leading press manufacturer MAN Roland is to be sold. The huge heavy-metal group is undertaking a sell off of non-core assets as it struggles to meet earnings projection for this year.

    According to Rupprecht, all divisions which are not among the top three players in their markets worldwide will be looked at for possible direct sale or floating on the stock market. This appears to make MAN Roland safe, as it is one of the big three press manufacturers, along with Heidelberg and KBA.

    Other core groups which have the board has said it is definitely keeping include MAN’s largest areas of activities: trucks, diesel engines and Ferrostaal industrial services. Local MAN Roland press supplier, Print & Pack Australia, is part of the Ferrostaal group.

  • Bayer bails from Agfa – consumer division up for sale.

    Bayer said, “partial ownership interest is no longer of strategic importance for the pharmaceutical and chemicals concern. Instead it has been solely a financial investment following the divestiture of the majority interest in the company in 1999.”

    Bayer holds 30 per cent of the company with Gavert having another 25 per cent.

    The Bayer announcement came at the same time as Agfa declared its intention to sell its Consumer Imaging division, citing lower sales figures due to the economic downturn. The Graphic Systems division also recorded lower sales but still accounts for the largest share of the group’s revenue at 39 per cent (E2.1 billion).

    Any divestiture should have minimal impact in Australia where Graphic Systems has been operating autonomously from the old Printing Technologies HQ at Blackburn Vic.

  • CIP4 gets its act together – new industry standard.

    The International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress (CIP4) has completed its registration as a Swiss organisation and will be headquartered in Zurich. It will operate as an international standards body and develop new independent file format standards for the printing industry, such as the Job Definition Format (JDF).

    The move is a development of the CIP3 initiative that began in 1995 to develop file format standards. Since then CIP3 has developed Print Production Format (PPF) which is today implemented in many applications.

    Agfa, Adobe, Man Roland and Heidelberg, the original members of CIP3, will formally hand over their rights to the industry standard to the new CIP4 organisation which has 72 members encompassing most of the major suppliers and industry associations. There is no Australian involvement as yet.

    CIP4 will initially concentrate on further developing JDF, which will open up all production processes to a common specification language.

    “CIP4 is an international standards body, which is about to involve even the users. This is most important since it ensures that JDF will always be close to practice. It’s the first time that computer integrated manufacturing has really got a chance to become a reality in our industry,” said Christian Anschütz, Heidelberg, member of the CIP4 Advisory Board.

    The main features of JDF are:
    • Ability to carry a print job from genesis through completion. This includes a detailed description of the creative, prepress, press, postpress and delivery processes.
    • Ability to bridge the communication gap between production and Management Information Services. This ability enables instantaneous job and device tracking as well as detailed pre- and post-calculation of jobs in the graphic arts.
    • Ability to bridge the gap between the customer’s view of product and the manufacturing process by defining a process independent product view as well as a process dependent production view of a print job.
    • Ability to define and track any user defined workflow without constraints on the supported workflow models. This includes serial, parallel, overlapping and iterative processing in arbitrary combinations and over distributed locations.

    For further information:

  • Fairley warns on global challenges at LATMA conference.

    The impact of globalisation on the customers and suppliers of the label industry is driving printers to connect with the new e-purchasing portals. These increasingly important electronic marketplaces are the future of purchasing strategies. Already over 60 per cent of the world’s packaging and labels are ordered from central buyers, with many of these orders coming through the internet sites.

    The number of e-procurement portals for global brand owners and retail groups is increasing rapidly. Sites for the retail industry such as Global Net Exchange and Worldwide Retail Exchange between them command orders worth US$614 billion. Major global brand owners such as Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Heinz and Kellogs use Transora Com to source their supplies, worth in excess of US$1000 billion.

    Although stopping short of predicting that label converters who do not address the global economy will go broke, Fairley made it plain that even in the niche local markets many printers depend on, e-commerce will become more important.

    “Certainly there seems little doubt that e-purchasing has arrived and is likely to be here to stay,” said Fairley in his keynote address to the LATMA conference in March. “The benefits of using e-purchasing to manage low and relatively low value orders, such as labels, are huge for purchasers. It will almost certainly extend to virtually every area of purchasing with global brand owners, retailers and international product suppliers all purchasing through increasingly sophisticated e-purchasing/e-procurement networks.

    “Few label printers seem likely to escape this revolution in the way they have to compete and supply labels through the internet in the future. For the label producer – often small companies –
    e-purchasing will be one of the major challenges of the next year or so. It is something they will all probably have to embrace.”

    The Human Touch in the Hunter Valley.

    The bi-annual LATMA Conference attracted 150 label and tag industry professionals to Cypress Lakes where over three days presentations were made by Jesper Jorgenson, Nilpeter; Klaus Bachstein, Gallus; and Ian Byrne, Sicpa, among others. The conference theme was The Human Touch and a highlight was the presentation by John Tamplin, Printing Industries, emphasising the point that the ‘people who do the work control the process.’

    John Buckham, Labelling was elected president replacing, Don Woolman, Precision Labels; Harold Williamson, Assta was elected deputy. The organisation announced a number of initiatives, including a recruitment drive at PacPrint, the commissioning of an industry estimating manual and the launch of a certificate training programme.

    A LATMA production manager’s seminar for self-adhesive label printers will be held in conjunction with PacPrint. The one-day workshop on Wednesday, MAY 16, will concentrate on technical aspects of label production. Cost is $100 and inquiries to –
    John Buckham (02) 9150 4776.

    Related label industry news….


    Mark Andy, the narrow web press specialist owned by the Dover Corporation since 1995, has acquired Comco. The deal was signed last Friday. The company will continue to market and support both Mark Andy and Comco as the two leading brands in the industry.

    Comco, headed by founder and president, Mark Herrmann, has been designing and building narrow web presses since 1969. Herrmann says Comco has recently refocused its strategy to concentrate on the folding carton and flexible packaging sectors with the MSP Pro Glide press. Mark Andy, founded in 1946, has a history of developing and supplying narrow web flexographic presses to the tag and label markets. Herrmann says combining the companies “will create a new level of synergy that benefits the whole industry.”

    Mark Andy’s president John Eulich, based at the company’s headquarters in St Louis, Missouri, says: “We look forward to tapping into each other’s expertise in continuing to deliver the level of flexographic printing equipment that both Mark Andy and Comco customers have come to expect.”

  • Heidelberg beats Xerox to digital colour punch.

    Heidelberg is currently equipping its digital Digimaster 9110 black and white press with CSP software to recognize and process practically all the popular file formats used in computer centres in the commercial, administration, banking and insurance sectors.

    “Our goal is to dispossess Xerox of between 600 to 800 systems per annum with our Digimaster printing system,” said Holger Reichardt, Heidelberg’s marketing and sales director. He maintains the Digimaster has the potential for 12,000 installations in the next five years. The company has sold 2,000 machines in 20 months. Its aim is to secure a 30% market share of the total digital market.

    Heidelberg is also claiming to have stolen a march on Xerox with the announcement that its high-end NexPress 2100 digital colour press will be available for sale from Print 2001 in September, six months ahead of competitor Xerox FutureColor.

    The range of Indigo digital colour presses, well head of rival Xeikon, currently dominates this high-end colour digital printing sector.

    Xerox CEO, Ann Mulcahy at a press conference in New York, vigorously opposed the Heidelberg challenge when she emphasised that Xerox saw its future as a provider of colour digital printing. She downplayed the significance of the NexPress.

    “FutureColor represents a quantum leap in technology, while the NexPress 2100 will offer no new technology breakthroughs and will not run much faster but will be over twice the price,” she said.

    Xerox already claims first place in the production colour printing market with a 70% market share generating US $15billion. Growth last year was 62%. It recently shipped its 2,000th DocuColor, and is positioning the DC 2000 as the “Now Press” because it is already in the market. “Competitors like Heidelberg and Canon also see this opportunity, but NexPress is still not launched and the CLC 5000 has technology that is a generation behind, ” said Mulcahy

    In reply NexPress chief marketing officer Chris Payne said, “We don’t see the NexPress 2100 and the DocuColor 2060 as competing products at all. The 2060 was developed from copier technology whereas the NexPress is a solid production press built for commercial and industrial use.”

    As part of the Xerox strategy to enter the colour printing market it also signed a deal with Scitex Digital Printing to sell the Versamark high speed 2,000ppm inkjet press.

  • Print dot coms go down in flames – OzePrint hangs tough.

    OzePrint, the Australian open-market print transaction internet site has been transferred, along with its parent OzeCorp, as part of a deal, to another Brisbane-based internet company, Eglobal International. Along with most print dot com sites it has failed to make much headway in its 18 months life although there are no plans to close it down. It operates as an e-marketplace hosting an auction model where printers are supposed to bid on jobs posted.

    Resistance from printers and lack of interest from buyers are the main obstacles to internet print transaction sites, here and around the world. The past six months have seen numerous causalities as high profile internet sites close down, merge or change their business model.

    Print Mountain in the UK is the latest print dot com to shut down. Launched at Drupa last year with a blaze of publicity, it had a staff of 50 and charged printers four per cent of a job’s value in order to gain a customer. Despite a massive marketing burn the UK industry remained hugely underwhelmed and the company fell well short of its $120m break even point.

    Print Mountain’s demise follows the flaming end of such luminaries as PrintBid, one of the first and largest US auction sites, which had a business model similar to OzePrint. PrintBid aimed to match printers with print buyers and in its 18-month history it achieved 3,000 registered printers and around 14,000 registered buyers. This, however, has not been enough to save it as a viable stand-alone operation.

    Say goodbye to other print dot gones, GoPrint, Print Channel and PaperX, who have all closed their portals in recent times.

    PrintConnect (US) has been taken over by httprint (UK), which is proving to be a survivor, mainly because it has changed its business model away from transaction-based internet activities to providing a traditional print support system.

    US pioneers Noosh and Impresse have cut staff, as well as their aspirations and are focusing on purchasing assistance for large corporations. PrintCafe, which is linked to PMP in Australia, is positioning itself as a well-rounded service provider. Auction site 58k is still in existence but is almost moribund.

    PrintPotato, an UK office internet supply company is also closing its doors.

    But all is not gloom on internet trading. Corporate Express, Australia’s largest supplier of office products and services posted a half-yearly profit of $25.1 million from revenue of $494 million. Over 35 per cent of that came through its e-commerce site, NetXpress, which is reported to be the most transacted B2B site in the country. Corporate Express is one of the largest copier paper retailers.