Archive for January, 2006

  • Value added service – dare to be different

    Dave Bell, head of Q&P development, found his drupa visit reinforced the direction of the company’s development program. The current industry focus on value-added services is one that validates Q&P’s strategic direction.

    “During my discussions with a range of vendors and printers at DRUPA, it was an oft repeated phrase that while JDF-based workflows will have obvious cost benefits, the base line is that printers need to know their business and build a close relationship with their clients, in order to provide the services the clients need. It is no longer enough to have the best prepress department, CTP system, new 8 or 10 colour perfecting press. It is the printers who think outside the square that are growing, retaining their existing clients and attracting new clients because of their innovative approach.

    “For me, it is interesting to observe how Q&P users looking to add value to their client relationship have developed initiatives. For some it is forms management, both for goods they have produced as well as goods from other sources; for others it is specialized print finishing, or kit assembly or web-based ordering of forms and business cards, or project managing whole promotions. It is important to remember the window of opportunity is small, it may only be a few months before other printers offer the same service, however the gains made in that time will have an ongoing effect.

    “It is in order to meet the needs of users in these areas that Quote & Print software has steadily increased its range of functionality. The latest enhancement, the Bin Manager offers another tool for users to value add for their clients.”

    Q&P Bin Manager – a new module for added value

    In the past for most printers the handling of finished goods for clients involved a limited number of stock lines which they printed for one or two major clients. However over the past two years there has been an increased expectation from clients as well as an awareness on the side of the printer that this is a valuable service which can, if handled well, be both profitable and enhance the relationship with the client. This can mean, however, that the same stock line may be in different bins, produced on different jobs, may have been prepaid by the client or in some cases depending on the terms of the contract, be at different prices from different jobs.

    Recognising this need with a specific user, the ‘Bin Manager’ developed by Q&P has been in the field for over a year and with the field testing completed it has now been incorporated into the main Q&P program. It is available as an additional module to those who require it.

    It is especially useful where stock shelf life is an important consideration and where the older stock should be shipped first, for example for envelopes and items printed on carbonless paper. Audit trails can be provided to show what has been dispatched on a bin by bin basis

    Stock items can easily be located, especially in situations when forklift operators will place pallets in the first available bin that they find.

    The Bin Manger Module is fully integrated with the rest of Quote and Print and as such can be used with Q&P ONLINE, Quote & Print’s internet based customer ordering system and also with Quote and Print stock control system.

    The benefits for the printer are decreased shipping times for finished goods, no more lost stock or time wasted looking for stock (with a corresponding reduction in staff costs or out of date stock). Another benefit is better accountability to customers, particularly in the case of a large stock inventory for which the customer has already paid.

  • Inking the future with E-Ink – magazine feature

    Are you listening? There WILL be questions afterwards!

    Biblio Tech Review (Googled again) also offers:
    “Electronic ink generates an image of a piece of paper that glows with letters like a neon sign. That is not far off. This technology is the ability to put electronic charge to particles on flexible sheets about the thickness of paper and thus have these particles form words. Instead of using computer screens, these flexible sheets emulate paper and as such are portable and reusable. Imagine having a road map that could change depending on what city you were in or a newspaper that didn’t have to be discarded, it would be updated each day.

    There are two major players working on electronic ink technology. E Ink Corporation of Cambridge Massachusetts and Xerox in Palo Alto, California. Both work using the same basic principles, but approach the product in a slightly different manner.”

    Will PARC strike again?

    End of quote, this is me talking again—I heard some months ago that Xerox was working on e-ink, and when I visited the web site of the fabled Palo Alto Research Centre noted above, I found that they are indeed working on e-ink but confess I could not understand what they are doing any better than as detailed on the ‘e-ink’ website.

    It is easy to check for yourself. Just hit Google with ‘e ink’ you will get the lot.

    My modest understanding is that at present it is possible to create something like a piece of laminated plastic a millimeter or two thick, that is capable of displaying black and white images, that can be changed with some rapidity. It is of course hooked up to a computer that provides the images.

    How fast can it re-display the images? At present fast enough for a wristwatch or a train station timetable display. That is now. In a few years it may be as fast as a black and white TV and have a similar quality. The e-ink site also mentions a colour display. Not available yet, but coming real soon. If not next year or the year after than you would have to think within the next five years or so.

    Is it a screen or paper display?

    So what are we looking at here? Is this a brand new technology for the display of marketing and advertising material? It seems so. Who should be interested and concerned? Anyone who produces large sheet stuff such as theatre posters on big offset presses, and everyone who produces wide format.

    If you can buy a display material at $100 a metre, or even $1000 a metre or for that matter $3000 a metre, and change the image every second, is this not going to be a VERY attractive alternative to static displays? Hell yes. Absolutely no contest.

    The options for variable displays at the moment are LCD and plasma screens at about $6000 a square metre, plus computer. As soon as anyone can buy square metres of variable display at a price that falls closer to poster prices than plasma screen prices, what are they going to do?

    The printed poster market will die almost overnight. Why would anyone buy a single-use printed poster at maybe $80 a square metre if they could buy a variable colour display at say $3000 per square metre, and maybe much cheaper.

    The wide format print market is currently booming and is the source of great looking company cars. To insure future financial happiness, I highly recommend that you closely monitor the e-ink phenomenon and if you think it is going anywhere, get in early and grab it fast.

    Ian Maclean produces the CostMaster MIS for print shops and also consults to the trade. You are always welcome to contact Ian on 0411 426 215 or

  • Get Connected reconnects in June

    Joe Kowalewski, national director of marketing and media services for Printing Industries, said visa and related issues which caused the rescheduling from November last year had been resolved, and would seen a strong international contingent in June.

    “The format will stay much the same as before including participation by the Lithographic Institute of Australia (LIA),” he said.

    Get connected will feature the Forum of AsianPacific Graphic Arts Technology – an international network of printing industries from Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

    “This year more than at any time in the past globalisation of our industry is high on everyone’s agenda. What does it mean? What are the challenges and threats and where do the opportunities lie?

    “Get Connected will open up the information vacuum and provide a forum for everyone to ask their questions, get the answers first hand and focus on what they need to do for the future.”

    Kowalewski said there was no doubt considerable interest would be generated by all on China’s ambitious plans for global dominance in print manufacturing.

    He said China’s printing industry comprised some 92,000 companies employing more than 3.5 million people and was poised for major expansion over the next five years.

    “There are some inevitabilities in all of this that the printing industries in Europe, America and even Asia as well as Australia have to face. They have begun to challenge the way many traditional printing companies run their business and see their marketspace.

    “Coupled with this are opportunities including service, technology, strategic relationships and the environment that need to be explored and more fully exploited as the way society communicates continues to evolve.

    “Get Connected will provide the intelligence, environment, people and the opportunity for Australian industry members to begin this process and stay ahead of the game,” says Kowalewski.

  • New leadership clocks in at Ferag Australia

    Thomas Klumpp (pictured right) will relocate to Sydney from Switzerland to take up the position of managing director from April 1st. The plan is for Klumpp to be given a head start in the transition into his new role over the coming months.

    “I am looking forward to these new challenges,” claims Klumpp. “To serve the important Australian and New Zealand market and to further develop Ferag Australia is an exciting and motivating task.”

    Klumpp has worked for WRH Marketing, the parent company of Ferag Australia, for the past 5 years. In his role he was responsible for the worldwide trade-business of the group, as well as a number of subsidiaries across Europe including countries like Italy, Spain and Poland.

    The departure of Markus Haefeli comes after nearly six years of being in charge, during which time Ferag Australia claims he was instrumental in establishing the company as a major graphic arts provider in the region.

    “This has been a very successful and enjoyable chapter for myself and Ferag Australia, but the time is right to move on,” says Haefeli. “I would like to thank all my colleagues, customers and friends in the industry for their support over the past few years. Their enthusiasm and dedication is what makes working in the graphic arts so rewarding.”

    Guido Steffen, CEO of WRH Marketing in Switzerland, says the company very much regrets Haefeli’s decision to leave the company, but understands his motivation to pursue other interests.

    “Markus has built Ferag Australia into a very stable, successful and recognised company which, in many respects, was and is a benchmark for all of us,” says Steffen. “We are very thankful for his entrepreneurial engagement and wish him well for his future.”

  • Candidate of the week: Print Sales – Digital/Offset

    Male candiate in his early 30’s, “Switched-on” personality, likes cold-calling, trained in print technology in the UK, experienced in previous production and sales roles.

    Prefers CBD or Western Suburbs.

    Please call James Cryer at JDA on 0408 291408 for further information.


    To view more printing and graphic arts career positions click here for Print21 Online employment section.

  • Book Club –

    A new edition of Pocket Pal is always an event in the printing and graphic arts industry. First published in 1934, this indispensable reference work has long been the authoritative introduction to the graphic arts for artists, designers, publishers, advertisers, students and buyers of printing. It has also proved to be a handy reference guide for printing professionals.

    Pocket Pal is the ultimate argument solver, jam packed with facts, figures, diagrams and illustrations of all major imaging processes. It provides concise and detailed information on prepress, press and post press, with individual sections on paper and a graphic arts glossary. Readers will find information on types and typographies, including proofreading, type, colour charts and digital prepress.

    The 19th Edition is edited by Frank Romano, RIT School of Print Media (Michael Riordan, RIT, Assistant Editor) and builds on the millennium edition’s initiative to bring digital printing into the mainstream of the industry’s reference. The result is a thoroughly up to the minute reference work that also retains the solid background knowledge that has made it such a favourite for generations.

    Pocket Pal is easy to read, an inexhaustible resource, and provides printing and graphic arts professionals with the wherewithal to fully understand all facets of their industry.


    To buy Pocket Pal: Graphic Arts Production – New 19th Edition and to browse the Print21Online Graphic Arts Library click here.

  • Ipex info blog

    Ipex and its exhibitors will be issuing information regularly in the lead up to the big event, here is some of the latest info to hit the streets:

    Mellow Colour

    Agent Matchmaking



    JDF Pavilion

    Flexible Packaging Zone

    Mellow Colour showcases new products and offers Free Colour Health Checks at IPEX 2006

    Mellow Colour will launch a new range of products at IPEX 2006, following the international success of the Mellow Colour ISOLithO System – a colour quality system developed for print professionals who insist on predictable and consistent print appearance.

    Demonstrating fast colour measurement from printed sheets and intuitive trend analysis, Mellow Colour is offering printers the opportunity to put their prints to the test with a free ISOLithO colour health check on its stand. Prior to the show, visitors can log onto and download the free ISOLithO Strip. This can be printed along with a production job, via the printers normal workflow and brought along to the stand for an on the spot ISOLithO Health Check.

    “IPEX provides the ideal platform for us to showcase an extended and enhanced range of products that improve efficiency for printers and ensure that customers receive accurate and consistent colour,” comments Alan Dresch, Founder, Mellow Colour. “The free ISOLithO colour health check facilitates the first step towards this and together with product demonstrations on our stand, organisations can take the first step to meet with the ISO 12647-2 standard.”

    ISOLithO was developed to enable colour printers to comply with the ISO standard and achieve the tight targets and tolerances specified in the ISO 12647-2:2004 Specification for Offset Lithography. ISOLithO offers more than proof-to-press colour consistency; the software provides a more efficient workflow, reducing time, cost, waste and delivering improved customer satisfaction and has been updated with the targets and tolerances of the latest ISO specification.

    “Williams Lea uses ISOLithO as part of a vendor audit program. The reports are easy to read and give a wealth of data to help our vendors align to the ISO 12647-2 standard. The technical support and training provided by Mellow Colour is first class,” said Andrew Horn, Senior Vendor Manager, Williams Lea UK.

    When applied correctly ISOLithO assures consistent print appearance, job-to-job and device-to-device. In practice, the user simply chooses the appropriate ISO specified L*a*b* targets for paper type and ink colour, along with tonal value increase (dot gain) targets from pull down menus in the ISOLithO set-up dialogue. A spectrophotometer is used to quickly capture colour data from the print sample and a comprehensive colour report is generated, detailing colour appearance and comparing the measurements with the ISO 12647 Specification.

    Around the globe colour professionals are recognising the benefits of ISOLithO. David Crowther, Director, Chromaticity Australia, has successfully installed the software with local printers. “It is a culture change for printers to adopt a more systematic approach to colour quality management,” said David. “However, with appropriate training and use of systems such as ISOLithO, I am confident printers will see the benefits and adopt this modern approach to manufacturing, already commonplace in other industries, without major outlay.

    “Implementing ISO 12647 is more than process control, it is about changing the way that printers operate,” concludes Alan. “It is inevitable that print will follow customer pressure to implement printing standards internationally and now is the time to take the first step on that journey.”

    Ipex helps build relationships through Agent Matchmaking

    With Ipex 2006 set to be the ideal place to do business when it opens on 4th April, organisers IIR are supporting the event with a new online networking initiative – The Agent and Distributor Matchmaking Service.

    The initiative will help put exhibitors in touch with distributors and agents from specific areas and countries, forging relationships between dealers and key industry players that may not otherwise have known about each other. This process will help ease the challenge of finding a potential partner in overseas territories and offer suppliers the opportunity to meet a number of distributors in one go.

    An online registration form for interested agents and distributors is available at The resulting database will be accessible to registered exhibitors ahead of the exhibition, allowing vendors to identify suitable dealers in key territories. Exhibitors and distributors can then communicate online prior to the show, as well as set up face-to-face meetings at a dedicated drinks reception on the evening of Monday 10th April, in the INNOV8 Theatre.

    Sarah Harvey, Marketing Director, IIR says, “Research amongst Ipex 2006 exhibitors reveals that around 30 per cent do business solely through distributors in overseas markets. This highlights the importance of selecting the right distributor to work with. The new matchmaking initiative provides exhibitors with a comprehensive list of active dealers in specific locations and allows them to get in contact with agents that they wouldn’t otherwise have known about.

    The Ipex team has already received an unprecedented number of enquiries from distributors keen to sign up to the service, indicating the level of scope for business growth both domestically and overseas.”

    Tim Webb, Managing Director, Russell-Webb, says, “This is a great initiative offered by the organisers of IPEX 2006. It presents a real opportunity for exporters to grow their business through agents and distributors in countries where they are currently un-represented. The service helps guarantee that you will meet suitable distributors, not just hope that they walk onto your stand”.

    This new initiative adds another pull for dealers hoping to visit Ipex 2006, particularly for those looking to build new relationships and expand their business. You never know – you may just find your perfect match!

    VUTEk Superwide Digital Inkjet Printers from EFI To Be Exhibited at IPEX 2006

    VUTEk, a division of EFI, is exhibiting its industry-leading family of UV-curing flatbed printers at IPEX 2006, Birmingham, UK, April 4 – 11, 2006. EFI is the world leader in digital controllers, superwide format printers and print management solutions for commercial and enterprise printing.

    On display at the show, the PressVu UV 200/600 UV-curing flatbed printer, starting at only $199,000, offers the highest image quality and greatest versatility available today in a UV-curing printer. It enables users to benefit from high-end image quality, greater productivity and improved profitability at an affordable price.

    The PressVu UV 200/600 digital inkjet printer is loaded with features you would expect to find on more expensive models – like stunning four- or six-colour, 600 dpi capabilities that deliver photographic color reproduction and crisp text reproduction. Its virtually limitless versatility and industrial-strength construction allow operators to print on a variety of sheet-fed or roll-to-roll materials around the clock, enabling owners to expand their services and satisfy a nearly infinite variety of long-term outdoor and indoor applications – increasing value to customers and driving up profitability.

    Starting at $299,000, the PressVu UV 320/400 UV-curing flatbed printer is the most productive in its class and is designed to help digital print providers increase profitability. It accommodates rigid substrates up to 126 inches (3.2 meters) wide, and offers productivity up to 1,000 square feet (93 square meters) per hour, equal to 20 – 4′ x 8′ (14 – 2 meter x 3 meter) sheets per hour. It also features roll-to-roll capability, giving customers the flexibility to offer a full range of services.

    The PressVu UV 320/400 is available as a four-color model, and prints high-quality, 400 dpi resolution images on rigid substrates up to 1.75 inches (4.45 cm) thick. Ruggedly built for reliable, around-the-clock productivity, the PressVu UV 320/400 prints on a wide range of sheet-fed and roll-to-roll substrates. Set up is quick and easy, and can be done by one person in less than one minute, allowing customers to focus their time on producing, not preparing.

    The two-printer-in-one capability of the PressVu UV 320/400 allows customers to print on both rigid and flexible materials, so customers can offer a more comprehensive range of applications, increasing their value to their customers while driving up profitability. The switch between flatbed and roll-to-roll can be completed in less than a minute, barely affecting the printer’s overall productivity.

    Goss International emphasizes web offset innovation at IPEX 06

    IPEX will see Goss International move ever closer to its vision of a fully automated future for web offset.

    Goss International will showcase a range of its latest press, finishing and workflow solutions, providing customers with technologies that push the boundaries of web offset production and add real value to print.

    These technologies include the Goss Automatic Transfer system for non-stop production, Goss Autoplate automatic plate changing, the Goss Web Center workflow solution, as well as the innovative Goss Flexible Printing System taking newspaper production to new levels of productivity and flexibility.

    Additionally, Goss International finishing solutions will further demonstrate the company’s commitment to integrated, high-quality web offset production, from data input through printing to postpress.

    “Goss is focused on continually improving the value proposition for customers,” says Eric Bell, European marketing manager at Goss International.

    “At IPEX this is shown through products designed for increasing quality and flexibility, wider webs and faster speeds, achieving higher productivity and improving makereadies and paper waste. Our web offset focus and innovative technologies are keeping our customers and print at the center of the media market place.”

    IPEX is to be held in Birmingham NEC on April 4-11th, 2006. Goss International welcomes its customers to join them in Hall 5, stand C70.

    IPEX 2006 JDF Pavilion 75% sold

    The Process Automation and JDF Pavilion at Ipex 2006 – one of the new product zones introduced to the show – is already 75 per cent reserved.

    To date, 15 companies have confirmed their space, including Dalim Software, EFI, Screen, Heidelberg, ePrint Direct, Dr Lauterbach & Partner and Lithotechnics.

    The 250sqm Process Automation and JDF Pavilion will be prominently positioned in Hall 20, and will highlight user solutions for improving production interoperability, productivity and profitability. Visitors will also be able to hear user case study presentations to be held in the theatre area within the Pavilion, including CIPPI (CIP4 International Print Production Innovation) Award winning case studies.

    Flexible Packaging Zone at Ipex 2006 is 80 per cent sold

    56 companies have already confirmed they will be exhibiting in the flexible packaging zone at Ipex 2006.

    Launched only six months ago in response to flexible packaging’s growing importance within the packaging market and the print industry as a whole, take up for space has been phenomenal. Almost 80 per cent of the floor space in Hall 1 has been sold so far – that’s 1,400sqm. The zone has the potential to grow to over 2,000sqm by the time the show opens in April 2006 – bigger than some packaging shows in their own right!

    Key companies exhibiting include Cerutti Group, Comexi Group, DCM Group, BHS, SOMA Engineering, CMR, Polywest Sleeve Systems, Kampf, AVT, JM Heaford and AV Flexologic.

    Additionally, the Flexographic and Substrate Converting pocket guide will highlight relevant stands throughout the other halls.

    The Flexible Packaging Centre of Excellence theatre in Hall 1 plays host to presentations from companies including IST, Luscher Flexo, Drent Goebel, Creo, Alphasonics, Agfa and GEW throughout Ipex.

  • Edwards Dunlop the new home for Bon Art fine papers

    While the Bon Art fine papers were previously distributed through Dalton Fine Papers, the newly renamed Titan Plus product range will be available through Edwards Dunlop Paper from February 2006 onwards.

    Rod Williamson, advertising and promotions manager at Edwards Dunlop Paper, says his company is pleased with the new distribution deal.

    “Bon Art has been in the market for a long time, but their old suppliers have decided to head in a different direction. The opportunity came up for us to take over the distribution of a long-term successful brand, and we jumped at the chance.”

    “Rather than just decide to pick the brand up as it was, we asked ourselves how it could be enhanced. We settled on introducing a smaller sheet size to offer a more cost-effective price, and we have refreshed it with the ‘Titan Plus’ rebranding.”

    Williamson claims the Titan Plus stocking range is extensive, beginning at 80 gsm and moving through to text weights and boards of up to 300 gsm.

    Edwards Dunlop Paper has confirmed that further innovations are planned for the Titan Plus brand to improve value for its customers.

    Edwards Dunlop branches across all Australian states welcome any enquiries welcome any inquiries related to the Titan Plus brand.

  • Creo and Quark face major US lawsuit

    The lawsuit alleges that products manufactured and sold by both Quark and Creo infringe on an extensive portfolio of RR Donnelley patents. The infringements are claimed to fall in the area of digital print processes, central to a significant segment of RR Donnelley’s service and product offerings.

    The lawsuit was lodged in the federal court in Delaware in the US, and RR Donnelley is seeking monetary and injunctive relief from both Quark and Creo.

    While specific details of the lawsuit are scant, the legal action comes as a surprise as RR Donnelly has forged tight relationships with both companies in the past. In 2004 the commercial printer teamed up with Creo to develop and implement the first thermal gravure system for the US print industry – a partnership that could well be the source of the current legal action.

    At the time, John Campanelli, president of RR Donnelley, commented on the strong working relationship shared by the two companies.

    “RR Donnelley and Creo have a proven track record in the print industry for pioneering new technology,” claimed Campanelli in 2004. “With our insight into the gravure printing process and Creo’s expertise in developing imaging technology and software, together we can set new industry standards for quality gravure print.”

    RR Donnelley is a US-based provider of print and related services, founded more than 140 years ago and with its operations extended into China. Some of the services the company provides include commercial printing, direct mail, financial printing, print fulfilment, forms and labels, logistics, transactional printing, print management and database management.

  • Quark fans face long wait for next flagship release

    Quark has opened up the testing of its QuarkXPress 7 beta software to the general public, offering the download to all interested parties in order to gain comprehensive feedback about its effectiveness in real world settings.

    While the lagging release date opens up the prospect of Quark losing further ground to its competitor Adobe, which released its low-price software package Adobe Creative Suite 2 in April last year, Quark insists its scheduled shipping date of later this year will ensure a top-quality product.

    Tarra Gukhool, corporate communications at Quark, says everyone at the company is proud to have worked on the latest release of QuarkXPress. As such, quality and testing are emphasised as crucial to the software’s release.

    “Quark is committed to releasing vigorously tested software to the market,” says Gukhool. “Quark has spent considerable time testing the software through a pre-release program with its customers around the world. We plan on shipping in Q2 of this year, but again, quality is most important to us.”

    Gukhool claims the extensive testing period will help ensure the software is of an optimum quality, and allow users input into the development process.

    “Quark customers have the chance to test drive the software themselves, and provide feedback and technical issues to Quark before it ships the software, in order to ensure reliability, high performance and customer satisfaction.”

    QuarkXPress 7 represents the first major revision of the desktop publishing software since 2003, with some of the new features including transparency, drop shadows, and support for Unicode and OpenType.

    The other main new feature is its improved collaboration functionality. Several users can now work on the same page at the same time, cutting the downtime associated with users waiting around for other people involved with a project to finish working on a particular page.

    “Customers in pre-release testing have notice significant time savings, citing that QuarkXPress 7 is making it exciting to create again,” says Gukhool. “The increased collaboration in particular makes it easy for creative teams to work together on world-class design.”

    Readers interested in checking out the beta of QuarkXPress 7 should visit the following website to sign up for the release.

  • Job of the week: Pre-Press/Graphic Designer

    Salmat Document Management Solutions is seeking a suitably qualified Pre Press / Graphic Designer to work in the Digital Print business stream at their Mile End site.

    The successful applicant will be responsible for the online stationery templating systems Print Manager and Brochure Builder and will provide a web-browser front end to allow creation, maintenance and ordering of various kinds of stationery items with the capability to insert variable information.

    It is envisaged the successful applicant will possess the following skills:

    Proficient in DTP (specific knowledge of Adobe Creative suite would be advantageous).

    Understanding of the following packages:

    Acrobat 7

    Indesign CS2

    Photoshop CS2

    Illustrator CS2

    Pitstop Professional

    Prism – would be advantageous

    MAC and PC platforms

    PDF workflow and postscript knowledge

    Web knowledge and understand web based interfaces – some HTML an advantage

    Firm understanding of the principles of colour separation

    Familiarity with issues involved with PDF creation (font embedding, image downsampling, colour shift) required

    The ability to identify limitations of supplied artwork and communicate to clients

    Liaison with internal and external clients

    This is a ‘hands on’ position with additional training for other applications and processes provided.

    Suitably qualified applicants are encouraged to apply in writing or via email by Tuesday 31st January 2006 to:

    Pre Press / Graphic Designer
    PO Box 91


    To view more printing and graphic arts career positions click here for Print21 Online employment section.


  • Navigating through tough times – magazine feature

    The 2004-2005 financial year proved to be difficult for many operators in the printing industry. Both official data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Printing Industries own research, undertaken as part of the quarterly Printing Industry Trends reports, clearly shows an industry experiencing challenging economic times.

    During the past 4 quarters, covering the period September 2004 to June 2005, the printing industry has experienced declining economic activity. While no growth was registered during the 2004-2005 financial year in the printing industry, the Australian economy continued to expand.

    The Australian economy grew by 2.3 per cent on trend basis during the 2004-2005 financial year while the printing industry contracted by 6.3 per cent over the same period.

    Compared to general economic activity, the printing industry’s economic growth pattern has also proven to be much more volatile. While the printing industry’s economic activity still seems to be correlated to that of the Australian economy, the correlation seems to have weakened in recent times.

    Signs of a mature industry

    Taken over a longer timeframe, the printing industry is showing signs of maturation with output growing at a rate below the national rate of economic growth. The printing industry’s rate of economic growth lags behind other leading sectors such as construction, retail trade and health and community services.

    Over the five years to June 2005, the printing industry grew by 6.2 per cent, compared to a growth rate of 16.5 per cent for the Australian economy.

    Volatile and depressed sales

    The movement in printing industry sales has historically proven to be very volatile. During the 2004-2005 financial year however sales proved to be less volatile by remaining largely depressed. The last time sales were reported to have improved was June quarter 2004.

    Margins tighten, selling price drops

    With the price of materials used in the printing industry rising and the price of articles produced (output) falling in the second half of the financial year, industry margins are once more falling with an increasing number of printing businesses experiencing declining profits.

    The other source of evidence about falling industry margins, comes from selling price data captured by the Printing Industry Trends reports. Selling prices were reported to have deteriorated during the 2004-2005 financial year with the June 2005 quarter representing the 18th consecutive quarter reported decline. What is also interesting is that positive price expectations have now given way to negative price expectations.

    Capital expenditure intentions remain strong

    Despite difficult trading conditions, capital expenditure intentions continue to remain robust. The last time expectations were negative was during March quarter 2001, since that time expectations have consistently been positive with varying degrees of confidence.

    ABS capital expenditure data also shows a similar pattern with printing industry expectations continuing to hold firm. Based on the ABS data, printing industry capital expenditure intentions over the next 12 months to June 2006 amount to almost $770 million. Even if actual outcomes come in below expected outcomes and factoring an error rate of 25 per cent, there is still likely to be an additional $575 million of new investments taking place in the printing industry over the next 12 months.

    Capacity utilisation rates deteriorate

    The capacity utilisation index that is used to track movements in the overall industry, deteriorated in the second half of the financial year. The proportion of companies reporting to be operating at capacity levels of 70 per cent or above was at the lowest level during June 2005 quarter for almost 3 years.

    Optimism remains high

    As a collective entity, the printing industry continues to largely remain optimistic about future business prospects with business confidence remaining positive despite a series of recent poor trading quarters. While there was a significant drop in industry confidence during the December 2004 quarter, the final 2 quarters of the financial year saw a strong surge in business confidence. The last time business expectations were negative was during the March 2001 quarter.

    Shortage of skilled labour

    With the unemployment rate in Australia falling to a generation low of 5 per cent, the printing industry is experiencing difficulties in obtaining skilled labour.

    According to the Printing Industry Trends report, labour availability was reported to have deteriorated during the 2004-2005 financial year. The last time there was a positive net balance in labour availability was back in September quarter 2003. Since that time the proportion of companies reporting deterioration in labour availability has consistently surpassed the proportion of companies reporting improvements resulting in negative net balances.

    The 2004-2005 financial year outcome represents the worst labour availability since the 1999-2000 financial year.

    Conclusions – a mixed bag
    The printing industry finds itself in the midst of an economic downturn. During the past 15 quarters, the printing industry has experienced 10 quarters of declining economic activity. Taken over a longer time frame, industry growth while still being positive is well below general economic growth. This pattern displayed by the printing industry is consistent with growth patterns found in mature industries.

    Industry sales, while extremely volatile, have become depressed in recent times and falling selling prices and rising costs have combined to slash industry margins further to levels that may ultimately prove to be unsustainable for many operators.

    Poor trading conditions in conjunction with continuing investments in new technology have resulted in significant deteriorations being reported in industry capacity utilisation rates. Some sectors of the industry have responded to increased capacity rates by engaging in price competition. Despite the idle capacity problem, the printing industry remains committed to additional investments over the next 12 months. Both ABS and Printing Industries research data show strong capital expenditure intentions.

    The industry’s struggle to attract qualified and skilled labour coupled with generation-low unemployment rates is resulting in more and more companies reporting difficulties in obtaining skilled labour. While some operators can respond by investing in labour displacement technology others no doubt will be faced with the prospects of rising labour costs.

    Hagop Tchamkertenian is Manager of Industry and Commercial Policy, Printing Industries. he can be reached via telephone on (02) 8789 7300, or via email at

  • Kodak chief touches down in Australia

    The visit represents Helman’s first trip to Australia since PacPrint last year, and his first look at the new headquarters since the company pulled its graphic arts players together to form the Graphics Communication Group.

    Speaking to the press, alongside Australia and New Zealand managing director Steve Green, Helman spoke of the difficulties inherent in converting Kodak from its traditional role as a consumables supplier, over to a digital company.

    “Kodak is currently undergoing its transformation from a company that sells boxes of film at a high margin, to a digital company that sells the whole spectrum of products, many of which come in at a much lower margin.”

    Helman concedes such a change is problematic for a company like Kodak. H e maintains the strategy is to provide the complete range of digital solutions, as well as a range of ‘value adds’ to its customers.

    “The printing industry is lagging behind many others when it comes to productivity increases, but we believe that with our complete portfolio we can assist printers in catching up, and add a significant amount of value to the process,” says Helman.

    “The key is capturing the customers right down the chain, and providing the consumables at every stage of the process,” says Helman.

    “Our research and development department is working hard on allowing us to tie all of our solutions together, and there is no other graphic arts supplier that can offer such a broad range of solutions under the one roof.”

    Kodak completed the process of bringing together all of its GCG players into the one location in both Sydney and Melbourne late last year, and Helman claims the integration has gone smoothly.

    (L to R: Steve Green, GCG managing director for Australia & NZ; Garron Helman, GCG managing director for Asia Pacific)

    “When we brought all the six companies together, they slid together very quickly and successfully. While combining the back offices, as well as bringing the sales and marketing teams together presents its obvious difficulties, Australia is the first location in the world to experience the benefits of working together.”

    “It’s been a challenging ride but the teams we’ve inherited are outstanding, with years of industry experience across the board,” says Helman. “We’re looking forward to moving onward and upward in 2006.”

  • Industry outraged over NAB offshore print scandal

    Offshore print was identified by the NAB as critical to the reduction of its print-related costs in a proposal document sent to a select number of printing companies. This was coupled with the eye-opening news that security print company Placard Pty Ltd could be losing its contract to produce Medicare and Veteran’s Gold Pass cards to international competitors.

    The industry has responded with heated anger to the news, with many companies expressing dismay that any further shift of production overseas could be mandated into any printing contract.

    “I think companies across Australia were horrified by the news,” says Philip Andersen, CEO of Printing Industries. “Local commercial printers have given the banks a lot of support in recent years, and were disturbed to discover that this support has not been reciprocated.”

    Correspondence from Robert Gerace, state sales manager for CPI in Adelaide, neatly summed up the responses received by Print 21 following the publication of the story.

    “I am still picking myself up after reading the article,” claimed Gerace. “How much longer are we going to allow this to continue? We will not have an industry left very shortly.”

    Peter Booth, managing director of Fishprint in Victoria, also expressed his disappointment in the lack of support for the printing industry, and claims the news will impact his future choice of financial organisations.

    “Our business is currently looking to change banks, and possible to refinance. NAB was at the top of the list, as we have recently done a fair amount of business with them,” says Booth.

    “Following hearing the news, we are now putting the NAB at the bottom of the list, and putting the rest of the financial institutions above them – subject to their print buying policies.”

    Carmel Quantock, governing director of Product Dynamics, took particular issue with the Federal Government’s haste to begin shifting its printing contracts offshore.

    “Business owners in Australia have to contend with Workcare, superannuation, holidays and all the other perks Australian workers enjoy. And the Government takes 30 per cent of its earnings to boot,” says Quantock.

    “I feel angry that the Australian Government is not supporting the very industry that pays its way, by choosing instead to chase the lowest price. It’s out and out exploitation of workers in poorer countries anyway.”

    Dennis Cooper, group general manager JS McMillan Printing, confirms that it would be bad news for the industry if large institutions such as the banks began shifting their printing offshore.

    “Over the past 12 months the printing industry has been under a lot of pressure, forcing a number of companies to close their doors due to the competitiveness of the market and an oversupply of equipment across the country,” says Cooper.

    “At such a difficult time it would be most unfortunate to see major institutions such as banks begin to move offshore for their printing requirements.”

    However, Cooper notes that such organisations may be stifled in their attempts to source low-cost overseas print by a number of factors – mainly, the unreliability of international freight and recent problems with wharf clearances in Australia.

    “While many might look at the possibility of sourcing print from overseas, such issues will mean that it will not materialise to the extent that the industry believes, particularly for organisations such as the NAB who are involved in time-critical print. So the industry response may be a bit of an overreaction as far as this is concerned,” says Cooper.

    So what do you think? What impact will these developments have on the Australian print industry at large, and how will it effect your own commercial printing business? Get in touch with Print 21 with your comments by emailing

  • Strong Q&P team turns out for drupa 2004

    Six members of the Quote & Print organization made the long haul to Düsseldorf to survey the state of JDF and CIP4 in the printing industry. They found the Australian developed product was up there with the best of the MIS products in the world.

    Hailed as the ‘JDF drupa’ this year’s trade show had a dedicated CIP4 park where vendors from around the world were able to present the latest advances in process communication. It proved to be the ideal venue for the Q&P people to get a complete overview of the latest developments.

    The team of six were Terry and Jenny Gallagher, Chris Clear and Ron Pelley from Beaut Solutions, the NSW distributor, and David (pictured at the entrance to the messe) and Judy Bell from Beloran, the developers of Quote and Print.

    According to Judy Bell, of prime interest on the development side was to see the level of JDF integration. “It was very useful to see just how far vendors from management information systems (MIS), had progressed with being able to transfer information between prepress, production planning, scheduling, press and finishing by JDF. The return of information concerning job status and actual production times to the MIS via JMF was displayed on a number stands,” she said.

    While the integrated networks between vendors at drupa were using pre set data, they were creating jobs and transferring JDF files for a full range of production processes from different equipment suppliers. According to David Bell, the system appeared to work well in this environment. “At this stage there is not a lot of use made of the JMF data and there remains many practical issues to be resolved. However JDF as an open system can certainly speed up workflow in the prepress and planning area by eliminating rekeying of data thereby minimising errors and reducing costs,” he said.

    It is expected that Q&P will commence site testing JDF/JMF in Q&P sites with JDF enabled equipment in September.

    “We were able to review most of the more than 20 vendors of MIS at drupa and were pleased to see that the features and functionality of Q&P are in line with, or in advance of, the leading European and UK systems,” said Judy.

  • Book Club – Estimating for Printers

    Commissioned by the Printing Industries Association of Australia and written by Neville Aldridge, this is the 3rd edition of the Estimating for Printers manual.

    Estimating for Printers has long been considered the industry standard, and widely regarded as the Printers bible.

    The manual has been completely re-written to bring the information in line with the present-day industry requirements. The advancements and changes in technology have brought about the need to completely upgrade some parts of the manual. However, the costing, planning and estimating principles have not been changed.

    This edition provides estimating standards for time and costs for both manual and electronic systems. The estimating topics covered extend from costing, paper and ink usage through to platemaking, binding and finishing and web and digital printing processes.

    Neville Aldridge has years of trade experience in the printing industry. In the past he has worked as a supervisor, printing ink technician, production manager, manager and small business proprietor.

    Neville also taught planning and estimating at Melbourne College of Printing and Graphic Arts and tutored the Victorian Off-campus Estimating for Printers course (RMIT) since its inception in 1984. He now operates his own training and consultancy business.


    To buy Estimating for Printers and to browse the Print21Online Graphic Arts Library click

  • Printers to pay more for paper removal

    The current oversupply of waste paper is the worst Australia has experienced since 1998, with the depression of paper prices expected to continue through 2006. This coincides with a seven-year global cycle of a slow in the use of secondary paper utilisation.

    According to Graeme Holland, chief executive at recycling organisation Paper to Paper, Australian Paper’s Shoalhaven mill has previously paid 50 per cent more compared to export prices for a low-yield stock already in surplus globally. Now the possible closure of its de-inking facilities means printers’ waste is destined for the lower-value export market.

    “Non-contracted suppliers are already being turned away,” says Holland. “While companies are subsiding exports because of existing contracts, a new price will inevitably be renegotiated when these contracts expire.

    “Printers have to face the fact that they may not be paid at all for waste products, or alternatively be charged for its removal.”

    Paper to Paper emphasises that printers have traditionally not received payment for any of their waste that was exported over the last 30 years. He advises that if printers are willing to separate paper qualities then any impending charge for paper removal could be costed into printing contracts – effectively raising the price of the process itself.

    David Shirer, executive general manager of corporate affairs at PaperlinX, confirms a study is currently underway on the economic feasibility of the Shoalhaven mill, one possible outcome of which will be a shift of much of its production to the Maryvale mill and a closing down of its de-inking facilities.

    “Our organisation will continue to provide a range of recycled products, but our consumption of printed waste will ultimately depend on the demands of customers,” says Shirer. “There is no point us making a product people do not want.”

    Paper to Paper claims the Amcor Fairfield de-inking mill is already suffering similar conditions to the Shoalhaven mill, with its operations currently under review, while Visy is overstocked and was exporting throughout 2005. This all points to the likelihood that printers will be forced to pay more for waste removal in the near future.