Archive for October, 2009

  • Spot Productions sets digital printing foundation with Fuji Xerox and experiences 300 per cent increase in turnover

    Since investing in digital printing to complement its offset printing business, Queensland-based Spot Productions has experienced phenomenal growth, witnessing a 300 per cent increase in turnover in the last year alone.

    Aiding the company’s growth is the 700 Digital Color Press, which has helped it to diversify its client service offerings while increasing the quality and turnaround of digital print jobs. With digital printing constituting 25 per cent of the business and page impressions doubling by the month, Spot Productions expects digital to represent nearly half of its revenues within the next year.

    Existing technology stretched to the limit

    Established in 2002 as a conventional offset printer, Spot Productions first entered the digital printing market in 2006 after acquiring a DocuColor 6075 production colour printer. According to managing director Simon Carmody, (pictured) the company was averaging 15 per cent year-on-year growth at the time, but gradually started outgrowing its existing Fuji Xerox equipment due to increased demand for digital print jobs.   

    Carmody says the company invested in the very latest digital printing as well as offset printing equipment in early 2009 as part of a strategic decision to grow the business and diversify its service offerings for clients.

    Today, Spot Productions offers a full suite of offset and digital printing and pre-press services, including envelopes, mail-outs, brochures, newspaper inserts, barcode and ticketing, access passes, and postcards.

    Versatile and flexible solution to boost capacity
    Spot Productions installed the 700 Digital Color Press in April 2009 to set up a strong foundation for a successful digital printing business, becoming the first printer in Queensland to adopt the technology.

    As the 700 Digital Color Press is an entry-level digital press offering high-end functionality, it was the ideal solution for Spot Productions to meet its full colour printing requirements at high speeds. 

    “Customers and companies are always time poor, so digital printing is becoming a more efficient and cost-effective way to handle printing requirements.”

    Carmody adds that he selected the 700 Digital Color Press for its “flexibility, reliability, image quality, as well as ability to load more paper and back-up register functionality”.

    Strong foundation for future growth
    Since installing the 700 Digital Color Press in April, Spot Productions has been able to significantly boost its capacity to handle an increasing demand for digital printing, while complementing its offset business more efficiently.  In only six months, the press is handling double the volume of page impressions to support the company’s booming digital printing business.

    “We’ve gone from averaging 160,000 to 300,000 page impressions per month, and expect digital printing to constitute between 35 – 45 per cent of all print jobs by the end of this year,” says Carmody.

    Improving on existing output

    As the 700 Digital Color Press is able to handle the entire finishing process inline, Carmody says the workflow process is more flexible and efficient and results in less wastage.

    “Our average print job is about 50,000 page impressions and we can now handle print runs that require a quick turnaround more quickly and efficiently.”

    Cost and productivity savings
    Carmody adds that the 700 Digital Color Press has delivered real cost and productivity savings.

    “We’ve achieved real cost-savings and been able to pass the benefits on to customers because the press can handle multiple jobs at the same time. We’ve also saved on labour costs as our existing staff can handle both the offset and digital machinery.”

    Quality on par with offset

    To put the product’s quality to the ultimate test, Spot Productions hosted a Lithographic Institute of Australia (LIA) networking evening in May 2009, giving members of the print industry the opportunity to compare the image quality of digital and offset prints. After being asked to spot the difference between a digital versus offset print job, Carmody says that the majority of guests could not tell the difference.

    “More than 90 guests attended the event and very few could tell which print was produced on the 700 Digital Color Press versus our offset printer. This proves that digital printing has truly caught up with offset in terms of image quality,” concludes Carmody.

    For more information visit www.fujixerox.com.au

  • Websend Australia makes its way into Africa

    Expansion into Africa adds 1200 more publications to Websend global media distribution network.

    African advertising delivery service, Websend Digital, has renewed an exclusive license of Websend Australia’s latest browser-based solution across the entire African continent in February 2010.

    Greg Wickstrom, managing director of Websend Digital, sees the Websend technology having a number of benefits to the African display ad management and delivery market.

    “The African market is particularly well suited to Websend and its Software as a Service (SAAS) business model as we license our application to customers for use as a service on demand,” he said.

    According Grant Schuetrumpf, (pictured) general manager, Websend, this is a landmark deal. "It means that Websend Digital becomes part of the Websend Global Media Distribution Network, where users have access to all international destinations from their own desktop. With this new agreement advertisers will be able to reach an additional 1,200 African publications, their listed ad sizes and mechanical specifications at the touch of a button through a single web-based interface.”

    The latest Websend solution includes a plug-in for Adobe’s CS4 that assists with the creation of advertising, a published API for seamless integration with booking and publishing systems, easy and convenient independent job ticket creation to assist with media bookings and a server application for the high volume production workflows.

  • Kayell in major push for ISO colour standards with Fogra

    Release of digital printing standard sees Kayell staff head to Germany in preparation for its implementation throughout Australia and New Zealand.

    The ISO 12647-8 validation digital printing standard is expected to have a major impact on the local industry. According to Andreas Johansson, (pictured) Kayell director, selected staff will travel to Fogra’s training centre in Germany to be certified as Fogra digital print experts.

    Johansson has high hopes for the standard. “With the release of the ISO 12647-8, users of digital presses at last have a reference point for consistent, predictable colour, in the same way that ISO 12647-2 PSO-certified printers enjoy,” he said. “This is of real benefit for both printers and their customers, reducing or eliminating any confusion over colour reproduction and creating a workable, internally recognised benchmark for digital colour output.”

    He also believes that compliance to the standard will separate digital printers in terms of quality. “To be certified as an ISO digital printer of Australia and New Zealand carries with it both technical and marketing messages that the complying printer has undertaken strenuous testing procedures to ensure digital print of the highest standard and consistency,” Johansson said.

    Kayell’s colour specialist, Luke Wooldridge, has found an increasing awareness of printing amongst clients and expects that they will demand that printers adhere to this standard as well.

    “Today’s print buyers are well-informed about international standards and are demanding higher quality from printers,” he said.

  • Supa Stik drinks to global success in HP Indigo Digital Labels and Packaging Contest

    Western Australia company, Supa Stik Labels & Labelling Systems, wins alcoholic beverage labels award in HP Indigo Labels contest.

    The award is a major milestone for the company, which last year was a runner-up in the same category. Supa Stik was the only Australian winner in the third annual contest, which attracted 270 entries, a 48 per cent increase on the previous year’s contest. All submitted entries were produced on HP Indigo presses and were displayed in HP’s exhibit at the Labelexpo trade show in Brussels last month. (For the full report, click here).

    According to Alon Bar-Shany, vice president and general manager, Indigo division, HP, said that the quality of entries received was impressive. “Product brand owners, designers and label and packaging converters are growing in creative directions based on the outstanding quality and production flexibility HP Indigo offers,” he said.

    “The end result is that the industry is seeing more and more top-quality labels and packaging work produced with digital – especially the winning entries showcased in this year’s contest.”

    Contest entries were judged by a panel of independent, industry-recognised experts, including: Paul Baker, principal scientist at Procter & Gamble Technical Centres Ltd.; Paul Clayton, managing director of Royston Labels; Michael Fairley, director of strategic development for Tarsus Expositions and Publishing’s Label Group; Andrew Thomas, group managing editor, Labels & Labeling; and Anthony White of AWA Consulting.

    HP launched the contest in 2007 to promote quality and ingenuity in the digital labels and packaging printing market, and invited HP Indigo press users to submit jobs that represent the distinctiveness of their company, prove their progressive printing capabilities and showcase the impressive execution of a digital production challenge.

  • Roland shines at sign show

    Roland DG sparks a silver rush at wide format show in Sydney last week.

    Roland DG may have been the platinum sponsor at the Visual Impact Image Expo in Sydney last week but its main attraction was definitely silver as it unveiled what it claims is the world’s first inkjet printer/cutter with metallic silver ink.

    The Soljet Pro III XC-540MT includes metallic silver ink as a sixth colour designed to give posters, POP, labels, decals and wraps a distinctive eye-catching metallic shine. It prints CMYK plus white and silver at a resolution of 1,440 dpi with a maximum width of 1.37 metres. Output at the show onto a high gloss media demonstrated the new printer’s ability to produce material with a uniquely shiny metallic appearance, not just as a pure silver spot colour but also mixed with CMYK to produce a range of effects.

    The printer uses an eco-solvent ink (Eco-Sol Max) and can also be configured as a double-white machine instead of silver. Outdoor durability is cited as one to three years for the silver ink (three years for the CMYK) and lamination is recommended for high gloss media due to the different way in which the silver ink dries on the substrate. The printer also uses an ink circulation system designed to reduce waste and prevent the silver pigment from settling.
    Pictured: Silver solutions: Conrad Birkett of Roland DG with the new Soljet Pro III XC-540MT printer with silver ink.


    The Visual Impact Image Expo held at Darling Harbour in Sydney last week was one of the first demonstrations of the printer worldwide and, according to Conrad Birkett, business development manager at Roland DG in Australia, customers were soon lining up to get their hands on the silver; by mid-morning on the first day of the show, the ink was already drying on several contracts for the new machine.

    The latest in latex
    The Expo also saw the local launch of the latest latex ink printer from HP Designjet, the L25500 which now joins its bigger brother, the L65500, which was officially launched at Pacprint.

    Travelling all the way from Barcelona in Spain for the launch was Santiago Morera, vice president and general manager, HP Designjet large-format printing solutions, Imaging and Printing Group. He stated that the arrival of the new smaller version of the printers highlighted the on-going development of the latex ink technology.

    Pictured: Santiago Morera (left) with Shane Lucas, director HP Graphic Arts South Pacific, at the Expo last week for the launch of the new Designjet L25500 latex printer from HP.


    “Positioning latex printing at this price point, affordable for small printers, we are doing a big second step,” he commented. “We are more committed than ever to the proposition of latex printing – and it’s proven, it’s working and it’s growing the market. It’s not a new technology that has to be tested, it’s happening now.”

    The L25500 printer is available as a 42-inch or 60-inch model and is designed to offer smaller printshops, photo labs and copy shops an alternative entry path into wide format printing. The HP latex inks are designed to be virtually odourless, non-flammable and non-combustible, and can be used in environments without ventilation. This makes the printer ideal for office-type locations and workplaces which previously would have been unsuitable for eco-solvent or UV ink wide format printers.

    While the target market for the L25500 is clearly as an entry-level device for graphic arts professionals looking to get into the signage and banner market, the ease-of-use of the new printer raises the possibility of its use in corporate environments, a possibility which Morera did not discount. Equally, while the L25500 is just the second latex printer to hit the market, Morera said there will definitely be more to come.

    “Yes, it’s not a secret. We are backing that technology. We can do them bigger, we can do them faster, we can do them with more versatile media. We are putting a lot of research behind that technology and you won’t have to wait long to see another product coming.”

  • Lindsay Yates Group gets leaner

    Sydney business, Lindsay Yates Group, becomes the one of the first printers in Australia to successfully complete the Lean Manufacturing training program.

    Since signing up to the program which was delivered by Skilledforce and Applied Training Solutions in September 2007, all 55 staff at Lindsay Yates went back to the basics, learning how to apply and improve lean manufacturing skills into their work environment.

    According to Paul Richardson, managing director of Lindsay Yates Group, the decision to take part was based on a desire to improve the company’s overall performance in a way that would benefit both the customer and staff from shopfloor to management.

    “The Lean Manufacturing program meant that all departments within the business were measured against determined and set company objectives,” he said.

    Pictured: the newly qualified team at Lindsay Yates Group.

    Part of the transformation involved each of the staff entering into a formal traineeship. Richardson admits that coming to grips with the program and changing long-standing habits was challenging at first for some, but they soon realised the advantages of undertaking the training.

    “The program reinforced what was already known to some and developed others skills and knowledge on how to streamline and create a more efficient company,” said senior printer, Craig Henley.

    For Wayne McDougall, director of Skilledforce, who spent one day each week training the teams throughout the program, the employee’s response to change was encouraging. “The level of engagement and results achieved was quite impressive,” he said.

    Today, Lindsay Yates Group has a much different work culture which is represented in the way the company is operating. “I couldn’t recommend the program highly enough,” said Richardson.

  • Kick-start funding for industry apprenticeships

    New apprentice incentives expected to provide much-needed stimulus for employers to recruit young people into the printing industry.

    Printing Industries national manager, training policy, Neal McLary, (pictured) said the Federal Government’s decision to ‘kickstart’ apprentice training with increased payments to employers would help make apprenticeship recruitment possible for many printing industry companies.

    “The kickstart bonus will boost the first year bonus payments to employers from $1500 to an initial $4850 in eligible trades which include print machining and binding and finishing,” he said.

    “It’s certainly no lottery win for employers, but in difficult times when apprenticeship numbers are falling quite dramatically in our industry, it is a welcome incentive for companies to reconsider their positions to take advantage of the funding.”

    McLary said the funding would be available for apprentice intakes between 1 December 2009 and 28 February 2010. “We encourage our members to take advantage of these additional allowances and bring forward business decisions to hire new apprentices,” he said.

    “Such initiatives are practical and responsive to our labour market needs. They help minimise the risk of skill shortages arising from the downfall in apprenticeship enrolments currently being experienced through the economic downturn. They are also a considerable boost for the prospects of Australian youth seeking a trade.”

    The $100 million announcement supports an additional 21,000 apprentice commencements by boosting the first year bonus payment to employers of ‘traditional trades’ apprentices from $1500 to $4850 or an additional $2,350. After a period of nine months employers will be eligible for a further $2500 payment.

    ‘Traditional trades’ are trades listed on the National Skills Needs List which currently includes ‘binding and finishing’ and ‘print machining’.
    $20 million of the $100 million will support 5,000 pre-apprenticeship places to give young people the skills they need to successfully complete a trade.

    Details of the Kickstart bonus are:

    What is the Apprentice Kickstart Bonus?
    The Apprentice Kickstart Bonus is an employer incentive designed to counteract the impact of the global recession on commencements and retention of young people in traditional trade Australian Apprenticeships.

    Who is eligible for the Apprentice Kickstart Bonus?
    Employers who employ an Australian Apprentice in a traditional trade who is aged 19 years and under.

    The Apprentice Kickstart Bonus is payable in respect to commencements between 1 December 2009 and 28 February 2010 in a qualification leading to a traditional trade occupation. The employer must also meet eligibility requirements under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program.

    What is a traditional trade?
    A traditional trade is a trade listed on the National Skills Needs List. The National Skills Needs List currently includes ‘binding and finishing’ and ‘print machining’.

    What financial support is available to employers?
    The Apprentice Kickstart Bonus is a total of $3,350 paid in instalments of:
    • $850 paid at the three month point of the Australian Apprenticeship; and
    • $2,500 paid at the nine month point of the Australian Apprenticeship.

    Are the new payments in addition to existing support for employers of Australian Apprentices?
    Yes. The new payment is in addition to the suite of employer incentives already available under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program.
    Employers of Australian Apprentices at the Certificate III level and above may already be eligible to receive $4,000 in incentives comprising a $1,500 commencement incentive and a $2,500 completion incentive.

    How long is the Apprentice Kickstart Bonus available for?

    The Apprentice Kickstart Bonus is available for commencements between 1 December 2009 and 28 February 2010.

    How are the Apprentice Kickstart Bonus payments made?
    Payments are made directly to the employer’s nominated bank account.

    How do I apply?
    Local Australian Apprenticeships Centres will advise you of your eligibility for the Apprentice Kickstart Bonus at sign up. Printing Industries members requiring further details are encouraged to contact McLary on (07) 3356 0022 e-mail: nmclary@printnet.com.au or contact their local Printing Industries office.

  • Printers go for gold at South Australia and Northern Territory PICA awards

    Printers gather in Adelaide to celebrate the year’s best print from South Australia and the Northern Territory.

    Chairman, Peter Lane, OAM, told the crowd of 380 that the quality of work being printed in both South Australia and the Northern Territory. “The level of printing excellence again impressed the independent judging panel in their challenging task of differentiating between entries in the 36 categories. In some categories multiple medals were awarded because of the exceptional standard,” he said.

    “The judges were particularly impressed with examples of excellent work in the areas of embellishment, screen printing, book printing and the production of annual reports.”

    Over 350 entries were received in this year’s awards. Newstyle Printing was the big winner, taking out seven gold awards, followed by Finsbury Green Printing with five.

    A full list of Gold winners is below:
    1. One, Two or Three Colour Printing
    Finsbury Green
    Newstyle Printing
    2. Commercial Posters, Showcards, Card Constructions & Mobiles
    Finsbury Green
    3. Leaflets and Folders
    Finsbury Green
    4. Die cut presentation folders
    Newstyle Printing
    5. Booklets, Catalogues and Magazines, saddle stitched
    Finsbury Green
    6. Booklets, Catalogues, Magazines, non saddle-stitched
    Newstyle Printing
    7. Annual Reports
    Lane Print & Post
    8. Calendars
    Newstyle Printing
    9. Stationery
    No Gold winner
    10. Postcards and Greeting Cards
    Print Junction
    11. Limited Editions
    Fivestarprint
    12. Art Reproductions
    No Gold winner
    13. Book Printing, case bound
    Fivestarprint
    14. Book Printing, limp bound
    Finsbury Green
    Hyde Park Press
    15. Book Printing, digitally printed
    Digital Print Australia
    16. Multi-piece Productions and Campaigns
    Newstyle Printing
    17. Packaging, Cartons
    Graphic Print Group
    18. Packaging, Display Stands
    No Gold winner
    19. Packaging, Other Packaging Materials
    Fivestarprint
    20. Labels, Roll Fed
    Studio Labels
    21. Labels, Sheet Fed
    No entries
    22. Security Printing
    No entries
    23. Flexographic Printing
    No winner awarded
    24. Screen Printing
    Cutler Brands
    John’s Print Centre
    25. Web Offset, Coated Stock – off-line finished
    Cadillac Printing
    26. Web Offset, Coated Stock – press finished
    Cadillac Printing
    27. Web Offset, Publications with a cover price
    No Gold winner
    28. Web Offset Un-Coated Stock
    Cadillac Printing
    29. Digital Printing, A3 or smaller
    Kwik Kopy Printing Norwood
    30. Digital Printing, Wide Format
    Visualcom
    31. Embellishment
    Hyde Park Press
    Newstyle Printing
    32. Self Promotion
    No Gold winner
    33. Innovation
    Visualcom
    34. Speciality or "Special" Printing
    Newstyle Printing
    35. Small Printing Business, less than 10 staff
    Print Junction
    Printskill
    36. Country Printing Business
    CCL Clear Image
    37. SafeWork SA Improved Safety Awards
    Alcan Packaging Capsules of Australia
    38. Zero Waste SA Improved Resource Efficiency Awards
    Collotype Labels
    Fujifilm & Fuji Xerox Excellence in Digital Craft Award
    Digital Print Australia
    Heidelberg Excellence in Craft Award
    Newstyle Printing

  • Maxine McKew opens Konica Minolta’s new HQ

    High-tech, low impact building investment in North Ryde is a vote of confidence in the future of the industry.

    The well-known Labor MP, former ABC television journalist and defeater of John Howard at the last election, was the guest of honour at the inauguration of Konica Minolta’s new building. The impressive new building is designed to present customers and staff with the very latest in enviro friendly design as well as deliver on convenience and efficiency.

    She joined David Cooke, executive general manager, Konica Minolta Business Solutions who said: “Our impressive new office space has already created a buzz for staff and clients coming to the building for meetings and demonstrations.”

    The opening of Konica Minolta House reflects the impact the company has achieved on the production sector of digital printing in the past two years.  Konica Minolta withdrew its camera business offering, Konica Minolta Photo Imaging, Inc., in 2006. Since then, under the leadership of David Procter, the production printing division of Konica Minolta has become a serious player in graphic arts colour and mono printing. An extensive digital production printing showroom in the new building indicates the scope of the company’s offerings.

    Apart from its iconic bizhub PRO series, which saw the 500th machine installed recently, Konica Minolta also had a Kodak NexPress in place being looked after by Kodak’s Steve Peck. Along with its rebadged Océ high-speed black and white machine it reflects the complete range of engines on offer.

  • Spot Productions experiences a 300 per cent increase in turnover with digital

    Since investing in digital printing to complement its offset printing business, Queensland-based Spot Productions has experienced phenomenal growth, witnessing a 300 per cent increase in turnover in the last year alone.

    Aiding the company’s growth is the 700 Digital Color Press, which has helped it to diversify its client service offerings while increasing the quality and turnaround of digital print jobs. With digital printing constituting 25 per cent of the business and page impressions doubling by the month, Spot Productions expects digital to represent nearly half of its revenues within the next year. 
     
    Challenge: Existing technology stretched to the limit
    Established in 2002 as a conventional offset printer, Spot Productions first entered the digital printing market in 2006 after acquiring a DocuColor 6075 II production colour printer. According to Simon Carmody, (pictured) managing director at Spot Productions, the company was averaging 15 per cent year-on-year growth at the time, but gradually started outgrowing its existing Fuji Xerox equipment due to increased demand for digital print jobs.    
     
    “Our DocuColor 6075 II was being stretched to the limit, handling up to four times the volume of printing it was designed for,” says Carmody. “While the DocuColor 6075 II was able to cope with the high number of print jobs it was time to take the next step and upgrade our equipment to increase production capacity and job efficiency.”
     
    Carmody says the company invested in the very latest digital printing as well as offset printing equipment in early 2009 as part of a strategic decision to grow the business and diversify its service offerings for clients.  It also relocated to larger premises and hired more sales staff at the same time. 
     
    Today, Spot Productions offers a full suite of offset and digital printing and pre-press services, including envelopes, mail-outs, brochures, newspaper inserts, barcode and ticketing, access passes, and postcards.
     
    Solution: Versatile and flexible solution to boost capacity
    Spot Productions installed the 700 Digital Color Press in April 2009 to set up a strong foundation for a successful digital printing business, becoming the first commercial printer in Queensland to adopt the technology. The company also acquired a Document Centre 1100 production system to handle its black and white printing needs.
     
    As the 700 Digital Color Press is an entry-level digital press offering high-end functionality, it was the ideal solution for Spot Productions to meet its full colour printing requirements at high speeds.  Carmody says the company was looking for a digital printing solution that was on par with the quality of offset prints, criteria that the 700 Digital Color Press was able to fulfil.
     
    “Customers and companies are always time poor, so digital printing is becoming a more efficient and cost-effective way to handle printing requirements. With the 700 Digital Color Press, the quality of digital is on par with offset, so digital printing makes even more business sense.”
    Carmody adds that he selected the 700 Digital Color Press for its “flexibility, reliability, image quality, as well as ability to load more paper and back-up register functionality”. 
     
    “We have a strong understanding of our customers’ business needs and a highly experienced team, and we’re now supported by top-notch equipment to help us deliver high quality digital printing within tight timeframes.”
     
    Benefit: Strong foundation for future growth
    Since installing the 700 Digital Color Press in April, Spot Productions has been able to significantly boost its capacity to handle an increasing demand for digital printing, while complementing its offset business more efficiently.  In only six months, the press is handling double the volume of page impressions to support the company’s booming digital printing business. 
     
    “We’ve gone from averaging 160,000 to 300,000 page impressions per month, and expect digital printing to constitute between 35 – 45 per cent of all print jobs by the end of this year,” says Carmody. 
     
    With the 700 Digital Color Press, Spot Productions can also offer customers a more comprehensive range of services. “We’ve now become more of a one-stop-shop offering customers a range of printing solutions, and the 700 Digital Color Press is a key component of our success.”
     
    Benefit: Improving on existing output
    As the 700 Digital Color Press is able to handle the entire finishing process inline, Carmody says the workflow process is more efficient and results in less wastage. The company is also taking advantage of the flexibility and versatility of the solution, handling multiple print jobs at any one time, further increasing efficiency and productivity.  

    “Our average print job is about 50,000 page impressions and we can now handle print runs that require a quick turnaround more quickly and efficiently.  As an Australia Post mail lodgement partner, we can also handle variable data printing requirements more effectively.”
     
    Benefit: Cost and productivity savings
    Carmody adds that the 700 Digital Color Press has delivered real cost and productivity savings to the company as the product can handle many printing requirements previously managed by its offset technology, maintaining the same high quality yet with faster turnaround times.  
     
    “We’ve achieved real cost-savings and been able to pass the benefits on to customers because the press can handle multiple jobs at the same time. We’ve also saved on labour costs as our existing staff can handle both the offset and digital machinery.”
     
    Carmody further commented that Fuji Xerox has provided the company with excellent customer service. “Equipment downtime can have a significant impact on our business, but both the 700 Digital Color Press and Fuji Xerox support team have proven to be very reliable.” 
     
    Benefit: Quality on par with offset

    To put the product’s quality to the ultimate test, Spot Productions hosted a Lithographic Institute of Australia (LIA) networking evening in May 2009, giving members of the print industry the opportunity to compare the image quality of digital and offset prints. After being asked to spot the difference between a digital versus offset print job, Carmody says that the majority of guests could not tell the difference.
     
    “More than 90 guests attended the event and very few could tell which print was produced on the 700 Digital Color Press versus our offset printer. This proves that digital printing has truly caught up with offset in terms of image quality,” concludes Carmody.

  • Letters, feedback, get it off your chest: 28 October 2009

    Readers remain divided over the need for phone books. What’s your view?

    Re: Phone book printing stays in Australia
    Dear name withheld,
     
    You obviously do not understand the way things work.
     
    When something is printed the carbon footprint stops when the item is delivered. That item can also be recycled safely. Unlike the electronic delivery of “printed” matter, you do not add to the carbon emissions every time you open the book, letter, junk mail, phone book etc.
     
    To make a book available on line creates more carbon emissions that the same printed article will ever create. Burn that to a CD and see the needle go off the scale.
     
    Electronic delivery is great if you want something now and are too lazy to flip a couple of pages to find what you want.
     
    Not afraid to put my name to my opinions
     
    Tony Bertolotti

    ************

    Re: Loyalty – swear you will be faithful. Print21 article by Andy McCourt

    Great article – as a print buyer I tried to be loyal initially to my company and the general printers I get various quotes from. One can’t always go on price of course – often it’s “who did a great job in extraordinarily short urgent time last time ?” Personal service, and thus loyalty,  so often wins out over price.
     
    Betty Kenny

    ************

    Re: Pellow and Tribute connect with Sydney – you should have been there

    Maybe most of us have heard it before?

    Bob Hambly

  • Brussels sprouts labels: Print21 magazine article

    Label converters from around the world converged on Brussels last month for the latest Labelexpo show. Waiting for them were the suppliers, anxious to find out if the effects of the global downturn would put a freeze on investment plans and keep the wallets closed. Simon Enticknap was there, too, to gauge the mood and he filed this on-the-spot report.

    Against a backdrop of economic turmoil worldwide (Australia excused) the Labelexpo Brussels exhibition reaffirmed its status as the top trade show for the label industry, attracting solid crowds and doing brisk business as label converters from around the world converged on the Belgian capital.

    While they might not admit it, organisers were no doubt a tad nervous about the turn-out for the biennial show this time around, given what has happened to the world’s economy since the last time. They needn’t have worried though; while visitor numbers were down slightly, the overall feeling was positive. Exhibitors were rewarded with busy stands and a steady stream of customers across the four days as the industry shrugged off recent anxieties about investing and turned up eager to find out about what’s new.

    About two dozen Australian and New Zealand companies sent representatives to the show and the general mood was that whatever qualms there might be about the strength of the economy, it is simply too risky to miss the Brussels show and wait another two years to see where the technology is going. Competition is especially intense in the label sector and everybody is looking for that certain something which will give them a competitive edge.

    The concern for suppliers now is whether the surge of interest generated by a show such as Labelexpo is just a spike caused by the release of pent-up demand from converters who were biding their time until Brussels, or the start of a sustained recovery. Ferdinand Rüesch, the owner of press manufacturer Gallus, commented that many customers still seemed “afraid” to invest, preferring to hang onto their money and wait for more definite signs that the worst of the downturn is behind us. Only time will tell.

    All the main press manufacturers came to the party with eye-catching innovations and new models. Mark Andy had the new Performance Series P7 UV flexo line which it claims will reduce waste by 50 per cent or more; in live demos, it was showing the setting up of a six colour job in about two minutes with 12 metres of material waste followed by a four minute job changeover – unbelievable stuff. Nilpeter staff were distinctive with their white blazers and bell ringing to signal a sale (apparently it was ‘dinged’ 21 times during the show), and attracted a lot of interest with the launch of its HoloPrint technology that prints inline holograms using a special polymer plate and UV varnish. It was shown running on a six-colour FA-Line UV flexo press which also included the Caslon digital UV inkjet module.

    The star of the show though was undoubtedly the new Gallus ECS340 which attracted consistently good crowds at its demos, the curiosity of visitors no doubt piqued by the unique design concept of the press which uses a solid granite slab onto which the mechanical parts of the press are bolted. The granite base also gave the Gallus marketing people the opportunity to point out that this was a press that had been 15 million years in the making.

    Digital spreads all over
    While the traditional analogue processes continued to dominate the show with ever-faster make-readies and push-button automation, it should come as no great surprise that the dominant trend was the increasing presence of digital production equipment. The organisers had set aside a whole new hall to cater for digital exhibitors but even that was not enough to contain the technology as digital presses and vendors spilled out into the rest of the halls, appearing on numerous stands elsewhere. Vendors reported that there was greater appreciation, understanding and interest in the role that digital might play in label production, not just with standalone presses. A couple of years ago it was maybe a bit of a toe-in-the-water approach, let’s have a look but not take it too seriously, but now there are more machines, they are working in production environments (in some cases), and the technology is better understood.

    The leader of the pack at the moment is undoubtedly HP, not least because it is already responsible for billions of ‘real’ labels being printed digitally by its Indigo machines worldwide and has the numbers to back up its dominant position. Snapping at its heels however are a host of hopeful contenders, predominantly inkjet-based, who are looking to grab a chunk of this market for themselves. The drupa show last year saw the proliferation of inkjet web production systems mounting a serious challenge to existing toner-based systems and even offset production – if not now, then certainly in the future. This time around it was the turn of labels to feel the first tremors of this seismic change. Inkjet has arrived and, like a bawling baby, is making a lot of noise in order to grab attention.

    In many ways then, the debate has moved on from the question of whether or not digital has a role to play – many labellers now accept that it does – and the more critical issue now is what form it should take. Thus there is a lot of heat being generated about the relative merits of toner versus UV inkjet, click charges and ink costs, web speeds, substrates, to pre-coat or not pre-coat, uptime, downtime and break even points. There’s no question that the quality is there, that’s no longer an issue with digital, but there’s still much to be decided in terms of what will work best.

    In some ways, this is simply a re-run of the digital debates that have raged in the commercial print sector (and continue to do so). Now the time has come for label producers to confront the same sorts of issues. Good luck with that.

    White is the new black
    The competing claims of the digital manufacturers can sometimes take the debate into interesting areas. For instance, the ability to print white ink has become de rigueur for digital label presses now, primarily as a background for clear labels. As a result, competing manufacturers make claims and counter-claims about the relative merits of their whites. How white is your white? As someone who has grown used to the constant comparisons between types of digital colour output, it is somewhat surreal now to be asked to consider the particular qualities of white as a colour. No doubt though that for some label producers this will be a critical issue.

    Perhaps of more importance, however, is where digital fits into the overall production environment. Are combination presses, making digital just one element of the production process, superior to standalone digital presses which print only colour but don’t put the brakes on faster analogue lines? Is it better to go reel-to-reel and convert offline or add inline converting for a complete end-to-end solution? And what about variable data, so far (apart from bar codes) an almost untouched market for labels? There are pros and cons with all these options relating to cost, speed, productivity etc. It may well be that, given the multifarious nature of label production, there will never be a digital solution that gives every single user what they want. It was ever thus with labels.

    All of which suggests that by the time the next Brussels show rolls around, the competition between the various technologies, the rival claims of manufacturers and the sheer mind-boggling variety of solutions on display will be even more intense. I can’t wait.

  • Worst may be behind us: Hagop’s commentary

    Small signs show business conditions may finally be improving for printers, but printing economist, Hagop Tchamkertenian warns that there is still a long way to go before the industry recovers.

    In its recently released September 2009 quarter Printing Industry Trends Survey Report, findings showed that business confidence has continued to grow despite reductions in orders, production, sales, net profits and employment.

    With this in mind, Hagop Tchamkertenian, Printing Industries national manager for policy and government affairs, believes that industry conditions are likely to remain challenging for some time. “The improving forecasts are a welcome development but so far they have not been reflected in actual reported trading outcomes,” he said.

    “As the industry embarks on the path of economic recovery and expansion it will be faced with different challenges. A significant number of printing businesses will realise that the reductions in print volumes suffered during the recent downturn are simply not coming back due to ongoing structural changes as opposed to temporary cyclical changes.”

    With the exception of Tasmania, which is expected to deteriorate further, general business expectations in most states remains favourable. Of all the states, Western Australia was the most optimistic, with a net balance of 70 per cent, followed by Victoria with a net balance of 58.6 per cent.

    Hagop added that the September 2009 quarter Printing Industry Trends Report confirmed that business conditions are picking up in line with improvements in the general economic situation. “The industry seems to be on the path to economic recovery,” he said.

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  • Pellow and Tribute connect with Sydney – you should have been there

    Leading industry experts Barb Pellow and Andy Tribute deliver a cutting edge seminar on the transformation of the printing industry.

    Rarely have two such high-powered presenters faced such a small audience as the industry failed to respond to Eliot Harper’s initial Connect seminar in Sydney this week. Less than 20 industry types were present to hear what were perhaps the most valuable presentations of the year.
    Barb Pellow of US-based InfoTrends, gave an in-depth report on the move by US printing companies in particular to changing from print service providers (PSPs) to marketing service providers (MSPs). Responding to the growing importance of the internet and direct marketing, printers are transforming their businesses into creative powerhouses.
    She gave examples of printing companies that now provide return- on-investment (ROI), multi-channel relationship marketing services. Repositioning printing companies is essential for long-term survival. She urged printers to rebrand their businesses, getting rid of the word ‘print’ from their names.

    Photo: Eliot Harper with his two star presenters

    She mentioned, as an example, the decision of the Snap franchise chain to drop print from its brand.
    “Success equals repositioning. There is a digital divide in printing and if you are on the wrong side of it it is not a pretty picture,” she warned.
    She was enthusiastic about the future of digital printing and the many opportunities being opened up by new technology. Apart from the growth of the $3.2 billion direct marketing business in Australia she pointed to the surge in photo related print as a prime opportunity for digital printers.
    Augmented reality printing with reality readers are set to overturn the illustrated book industry. This digital technology embeds a tag containing a Flash file on the printed page, which when viewed through appropriate goggles will marry video and print in 3D. She predicts a billion dollar future for this segment the Christmas after next.

    The changing face of printing
    Andy Tribute carried on this theme in his presentation by emphasising that the industry is now printing many items that were never printed before. However, he had some sobering statistics on the state of the convention al printing industry.
    In Europe the failure rate of printing companies is 250 percent higher than average across the economy. One in four printing businesses is losing money.
    He criticised the industry associations in particular for not doing enough to get the printing industry’s environmental credentials across.
    But the advancement of digital printing is likely to be the saviour for most commercial printers. Up to 60 percent of digital printing is work transferred from offset, up from less than 10 percent in 2000, while 20 percent now uses some form of variable data. This is set to rise.
    Tribute advised printers to expand their horizons by delivering more services. He pointed out that for every dollar spent on printing, up to six more were expended in ancillary services, such as content design and creation, finishing and delivery logistics. This is a print communication company’s natural growth area.
    Other opportunities he identified for digital printing include:
    Transpromo – adding marketing value to essential mail is only for a few specialised companies. Not for the average commercial printer it is yet to find widespread acceptance.
    Direct Marketing – variable data and personalised printing is a rapidly growing sector and one in which every printer should be gaining expertise.
    Web2Print – the joy of web to print is not only that it is predicted to grow by 30 percent per annum, but that customers pay as they place the order.
    In a rapidly developing market his advise for printers included:
    • Build a new business model
    • Make it easy for your customers to buy from you
    • Become a provider of a range of marketing services
    • Find a niche market (if there are any left) and specialise in it.
    • Either be a digital printing company or add digital to your offset capability
    • Learn to market your company, not just sell its offerings.
    There was much more targeted and valuable information of good use to every printing company in this transformative time. The pity of it is there were not more industry professionals there to get the benefit.

  • Océ Australia confirms new Managing Director

    One of the worst kept secrets in the industry is officially confirmed with the announcement of Simon Wheeler as the new boss for Océ Australia.

    The industry professional from the UK replaces popular Servio Notermans who has returned to Europe to become managing director of Océ in France.

    Wheeler joined Océ in the UK 14 years ago and has held a number of senior positions with the British arm of the company, most notably as divisional director, responsible for major corporate and commercial accounts.

    A seasoned graphic arts professional, he has a wide knowledge of most areas of printing and describes himself as being "passionate about the industry”.

    Wheeler will be based in Australia at Océ’s head office in Scoresby, Victoria. In the coming years he predicts major changes in the industry, which will bring “many opportunities and challenges to digital printing”.

    “Océ is at the forefront of the digital printing revolution, and market leader in an increasing number of important areas. I am looking forward to bringing some of our new technologies to the market here in Australia and helping our Australian customers achieve the highest standards of excellence,” he said.