Archive for November, 2011

  • Digital finishers get a room of their own

    Printers will now have an intimate space to go and check out the current range of Morgana digital finishing machines with this week’s official opening of Australia’s first dedicated Morgana digital finishing showroom in Sydney’s Alexandria.

    The dedicated space was opened by Ferrostaal Australia in response to strong sales of its Morgana digital finishers, which garnered a lot of interest following this year’s PrintEx convention. In fact, the company’s DigiFold Pro creasing and folding machine won the PrintEx gong for Product of the Year.

    The small but well-stocked showroom is diminutive when compared to most of the other showrooms in the market, but the size is entirely intentional, with Morgana Australia’s general manager, Andy Cooper, saying the company was aiming for a laid-back and intimate venue in which to educate customers about the products.

    “This is a relaxed space,” said Cooper (pictured at right), at the showroom’s official opening on 30 November. “It gets people away from their stress. There’s a relaxed atmosphere in which to talk to, and educate the customers.”
     

    The small, dedicated showroom format is based on the company’s UK operations, which have taken this form for years. However, according to Cooper, this is the first of its sort to be introduced into the Australian market.

    “This is the only dedicated finishing showroom I’ve seen,” said Cooper. “There are others out there selling finishing products alongside their other equipment, but as a dedicated showroom, this is it.”

    The Alexandria showroom features around 25 machines; with the Morgana’s star performer, the DigiFold Pro, sitting proudly in the centre of the room. Having sold over 80 of the DigiFold machines over the last year, the company has already seen a fresh surge of interest since the showroom began accepting visitors.

    “A few clients have already been shown around the premises,” said Cooper. “One customer came in to see one of the machines and ended up leaving with two.”

    Aside from the DigiFold Pro, the other products featured include the DocuFold Pro small format folder, the CardXtra and CardXtra Plus business card cutters, and a variety of binding machines.

  • Swiss private equity firm dashed manroland hopes

    Zurich-based Capvis Equity Partners baulked at the task of restructuring the press manufacturer when it had a look at this year’s figures.

    "We sincerely regret on behalf of the employees that we weren’t able to come to an agreement over how to put the company on a stable footing," said Daniel Flaig, a Capvis partner.

    The fund first held talks in September with manroland management on taking a stake and restructuring the ailing press maker. However when the bottom dropped out of the market mid-July, the results became significantly below what was expected and the restructuring costs significantly higher.

    manroland filed for insolvency last Friday after banks refused to extend its three-digit million Euro loan facility. The insolvency is threatening the employment of 6,500 personnel, 5,000 of whom are in Germany. "It is especially bad that the wages for November cannot even be paid anymore, so shortly before Christmas," said Alexandra Roessel, HR manager manroland, in a statement.

    According to a report in the German financial press, the administrator, Werner Schneider, claims it might be easier to dismantle the company and sell it in smaller parts. Industry observers speculate that the web division, located at HQ in Augsberg, Bavaria, will be easier to sell and maintain as a stand alone business. Few hold much hope for the sheetfed plant at Offenbach outside Frankfurt.

    A number of unidentified potential investors have expressed interest in the company. The horse-trading will begin next week.

    Management at the company are still hopeful of resolving the situation. In a statement it said, the initiated insolvency procedure affords the opportunity to step up the restructuring process and guide the company through this difficult phase. Despite all the disappointment over the path that now has to be taken, the insolvency procedure as debtor in possession offers plenty of prospects because the company has compelling products, the necessary know-how, and an excellent team.

  • OnDemand opens up its new high-speed Océ

    Powering into the front ranks of high-speed inkjet producers, Bruce Peddlesden shared the limelight with Simon Wheeler to introduce the industry to Australia’s first ColorStream 3500.

    At an open house in the company’s Melbourne premises last week, some of the industry’s largest players, and competitors, brushed shoulders to see what high-speed colour inkjet can do. The transformative technology is raising the bar not only for essential mail but also in book printing and has the potential to develop on demand catalogues and newspapers.

    According to Simon Wheeler, managing director, Océ Australia, (pictured with Briuce Peddlesden) the company is one of the leading proponents of the technology in the world. “As of this month Océ has placed 220 continuous feed presses throughout the world, including four in Australia,” he said.

    Quoting international print consultant Info Trends, he said the company was now the world leader in digital continuous feed sales. “Océ leads the market with a 30 per cent share – achieved within only three years – in the production colour continuous feed market segment, including inkjet and toner-based technologies, in the combined US and Western European geographies,” he said.

    “In continuous feed monochrome, Océ sales represent 42% of the installations in these locations.”

    Bruce Peddlesden said On-Demand has been looking at the possibilities of inkjet for more than six months and the Océ ColorStream 3500 had impressed him when he saw it at Océ’s Open House in Poing, Germany.

    “Our publishing services have been outgrowing our current capabilities and inkjet will boost them considerably,” he said. “At the same time, we have a large variable data clientele and the ColorStream 3500 will enable us to expand these services into full transactional printing.

    “We were also drawn to the system’s flexibility, with its ability to switch between full colour mode and black and white.”

    The new printer will be connected to On-Demand using the company’s Océ PRISMA software.

    On-Demand has been an Océ customer for many years with a fleet of five Océ VarioPrint 6250 black and white perfecting presses.

    “Océ has been the mainstay of our black and white operations and we have enjoyed a good, lasting relationship with them,” said Peddlesden.

  • Snap, Capture and Print!

    DES is filling printers’ stockings this Christmas with a Canon camera bonus in every one of its special printer packages.

    Getting into the Christmas cheer, the company is setting you up with a wide format printer/camera combo ready for the brand New Year.

    Printers looking to upgrade or transition production inhouse can receive a bonus EOS 5DMKII camera with the purchase of a Canon iPF6350 printer bundle, while stocks last.

    This Australia-wide promotion comes complete with an additional set of inks, a roll of 24” photo paper and 24” canvas, and a premium lens kit, including an EF 24-105mm lens.

    According to Russell Cavenagh, national sales director for DES, the camera and printer bundle is a substantial saving. “You’re almost getting the camera for nothing,” he says.

    The iPF6350 is a 24-inch large format printer was designed for professionals in mind, from the graphic, fine art, photography and proofing markets. It features a built-in 80GB hard disk, making it easier to recover jobs after errors, re-order jobs and effortlessly handle large amounts of data.

    The printer incorporates LUCIA EX, Canon’s latest and most innovative 12-colour pigment ink system, coupled with improved image processing technology to deliver highly scratch resistant prints. This ink set allows printers to achieve a 20% increase in their colour gamut and 90% coverage of Pantone colours.

    *Terms and Conditions apply. Contact sales@des-pl.com.au for more information.

  • Queensland signwriter wins Fuji Xerox $15,000 prize

    Graphic Concepts popped the champagne as it won Fuji Xerox Australia’s office upgrade, fuelling plans for a full office renovation.

    The large format printer and corporate signage fabricator won the national quarterly draw after it purchased a DocuCentre-IV C2260 MFP. The Salisbury-based company originally approached the supplier for help with a presentation solution, and ended up walking away with an oversized cheque.

    According to Wolfgang Kay director of Graphic Concepts, the upgrade could not have come at a better time. He thought Tim O’Donohue, Fuji Xerox Australia’s master agent, was pulling his leg when he called with the news.

    “We were already planning on doing a full office renovation and makeover of our premises because we have been in our current space for eight years, so this is quite a timely surprise,” he says.

    Pictured: Queensland state general manager, Garry Gray (left) presenting Wolfgang Kay with the office upgrade cheque worth $15,000.

    The company handles large-scale signage from large format print work that currently runs through the Caneland Central plaza in Mackay, to the huge illuminated letters it recently produced to sit atop the Star City Casino and Centre Point Tower in Sydney.

  • Print display wearable everyday at NEXT

    Roland DG explores the future of T-Shirt culture across 500sqm of print as part of Outpost Project, a first of its kind Street Art festival on Sydney’s Cockatoo Island.

    A large format Roland DG AJ-1000i printer handled NEXT Exhibition’s 50-panel print job with ease. The 50 panels were made up of photos of t-shirt artists and designer with their views.

    "This project showcases the print quality and reliability of Roland’s wide format printers" said Conrad Birkett from Roland DG. "It has been an amazing project to be involved in and great opportunity to expose the Roland brand to the general public and also to leading designers and artists."

    According to Anthony McCausland, marketing communications guru at Roland DG, the panels were printed continuously on a single AJ-100 industrial printer for five days straight. “Recently we have sold and installed more than 25 AJ-100s across Australasia,” he adds.

    Self-confessed T-shirt connoisseur and NEXT curator, Eddie Zammit travelled the globe with photographer Nicole Reed to capture portraits of the world’s leading T-shirt designers and influencers. Their work covers the exhibition panels, creating a gauntlet of creativity with T-shirts hanging overhead.

    "The panel displays for NEXT were an ambitious concept and the printing was always going to be a big task. Working with Roland was fantastic and we were amazed with the print quality and the overall result.

    “People have been commenting about the quality of the photography in addition to the printing since opening. You really need to go see it for yourself,” says Zammit.

    Anyone interested in street art, the political stencilling of Banksy, or T-shirt culture should check out the Outpost Project and NEXT Exhibition on Cockatoo Island before it finishes on 11 December. Entry is free.

  • Industry ripe for Just your type

    Theo Pettaras utilised the full gamut of Digitalpress’ technical experience and equipment to produce a limited edition book ‘Just your type’, recently launched at the Paper Mill in Sydney.

    According to Pettaras, the full house reception made for a successful launch. Industry representatives and Digitalpress’ own corporate clients turned out to see the book designed by designers for designers, including BJ Ball, Blue Star, QBE, Deloitte, and Commonwealth Bank.

    “Our aim was to produce a book that was 100% digitally produced in-house by using every possible print process we could throw at it.

    “We believe print should be tactile and engaging and we believe the book clearly demonstrates the capabilities of what you can do with beautiful design and an innovative and imaginative printing processes,” he says.

    Pettaras notes that the book production proved technically difficult from the outset, requiring each page to be produced and embellished inhouse across all of his equipment. The project utilized the new capabilities of his Kodak Nexpress 3300, two Roland printers and a wide format Oce.

    Pictured: Lindsay Smith (left) director of Eleven Eleven Design, next to Digitalpress’ Theo Pettaras, Anthea Hobbs and Sally Crawford from Perpetual, and Estelle Pigot from Eleven Eleven.

    Digitalpress took full advantage of its new Nexpress, using the dimensional dry ink technology for raised print and Matt fuser technology to print CMYK with light black, red, blue and green.

    Almost half of the staff was involved over the six-month print job to complete all 500 books. On top of that, over 60 hours of printing was required to print 200 invites for the launch, nearly 20 minutes apiece.

    Even after all that effort, the word ‘collaboration’ was misspelt on all the invites. Pettaras reflects that a quick recovery utilizing intelligent Print Recognition (iPR) codes gave the impression that the error was all in good humour to showcase the new technology.

  • Growing wide calls for careful planning – Print21 magazine feature

    From outdoor signage to indoor point-of-sale, it’s hard to ignore the growth in wide format printing in the commercial print market. But how do you get the best business outcomes for your customers? Pankaj Gupta at Fuji Xerox Australia provides some important tips.

    With many traditional print providers looking at ways of diversifying and improving their product offering to their customer base, wide format print is one consideration.

    The wide format print market place has shown growth even during tough economic times. In fact, the Australian market is forecast to show a CAGR of 3.4 per cent between 2010 and 2015 (Infotrends report February 2011). The out-of-home (OOH) advertising industry has experienced 5 per cent growth so far in 2011 and reported a 19 per cent growth for the 2010 financial year (Outdoor Media Association media release).

    Demand for wide format printing has expanded from just architectural drawings and engineering designs, and today’s wide format printers need to understand the marketing potential of their solution. They must also recognise the need for investing in the right tools for the job.

    For a commercial printer considering the investment, it’s about more than just acquiring the best printing equipment itself. It’s also about being prepared to educate a new type of customer, based on their printing needs. What seems basic to those of us in the industry won’t necessarily be obvious to first-time small business operators.

    For example, ink technology makes an enormous difference to the quality of output and impact of the material. Aqueous (or water-based) ink is ideally used for indoor print applications and provides a high quality, high impact output. However, in order to be used in an outdoor environment, the output needs to be laminated, adding more time and cost to the process. Eco-solvent inks are UV and weather resistant and ideal for outdoor advertising while providing high quality output.

    Focus on the media

    Getting the right equipment and right ink is just part of the story. By investing in good processing software, commercial printers can move from average output to high quality, high impact colour-critical marketing material. This is where you can differentiate your services from other vendors.

    Take the time to focus on explaining the different media and substrates. It’s often a classic case of ‘you get what you pay for’. Sacrificing on stock quality can ruin an otherwise excellent piece of work. Be prepared to demon­strate how poor quality stock can lead to uneven absorption, spotting and smudging.

    The most popular print substrates for long-term outdoor graphics are banners and self-adhesive vinyl (SAV). The right print solution will also have the capability of printing onto other substrates such as films, papers, textiles and other specialty substrates.

    Most media manufacturers provide new and innovative media suitable for printing with eco-solvent print solutions, but going with a total solution provider will ensure your chosen substrates are colour profiled to achieve the best results possible. Other substrates can include wall coverings, brick vinyls, static clings, window films, canvas, floor graphic films and many more.

    Last but not least, how will you finish the job? Laminators and cutting equipment are a critical part of the investment and, as with everything, understanding the kind of work your customers need and expect will influence your decisions. Plan your business and make your investments according to your strategy.

    Fast track to market
    Working with a total solution provider can remove complexities, shorten the learning curve and reduce time to market. Fuji Xerox Australia provides a total solution including professional and knowledgeable account management, colour expertise, media and finishing expertise, user training, same-day service and support, flexible investment options and ProfitAccelerator tools to get you on the right track quickly.

    Fuji Xerox’s ProfitAccelerator is tool kit of business resources to help you effectively plan your entry into wide format printing. It is part of Fuji Xerox’s ongoing initiative to build and maintain strong relationships with our customers—and it will help you to do the same with yours.

  • Finish your lunch at Morgana’s new showroom

    Morgana Australia will throw open the doors of its new comprehensive print finishing showroom tomorrow afternoon in Alexandria. You have an invitation to swing by with print samples for a light lunch and a product show.

    The new purpose built site at 36 Wyndham St, features around 12 pieces of digital print finishing equipment. It will also showcase the DocuFold Pro for the first time in the region. The large range eclipses the smaller showrooms already open in Melbourne and Auckland.

    Andy Cooper, general manager of digital print finishing, says the new demonstration sites are a result of Morgana’s continuing success since PrintEx. The increased sales focus in the Asia Pacific region, where there is growing demand for the products called for a purpose built showroom.

    “The showrooms now ensure that our customers can see their own print materials finished on one of the many machines in a showroom,” said Cooper.

    “There is an enormous opportunity to tap into the digital print market with products that are specifically designed to finish digitally printed media,” he adds.

    To celebrate the 12-month partnership in the region, Ferrostaal and Morgana will be offering special pricing on all products up until Christmas.

  • Eastern Press joins high achievers

    Melbourne’s Eastern Press has become the latest company to adopt competitive manufacturing practices signing up for Printing Industries Lean and Green program.

    Printing Industries training partner SkilledForce, which currently has more than 40 companies around Australia on the program, is running the 18-month program.

    Referred to as Lean manufacturing or competitive manufacturing, the program takes a whole of business approach to reduce costs, increase profits, improve customer service and enhance quality by identifying and removing all forms of waste, whether it’s time and process waste to handling and material waste.

    Eastern Press has also just completed Printing Industries Sustainable Green Print environmental certification program to Level Two ensuring that their environmental credentials meet industry best practice.

    Frank Hilliard, owner of Eastern Press, says being innovative and proactive was the best way he knew of being a viable printing company in an increasingly competitive market.

    “Implementing both the lean manufacturing training and Sustainable Green Print certification at the same time as installing new equipment makes complete sense to us,” he says.

    He also notes that the company had recently installed a HP Indigo Digital Press and was placing an order for a Heidelberg XL75 for installation in December.

    Eastern Press general manager Cormac Deffely, says both programs provided the opportunity to significantly improve overall efficiency and productivity compatible with environmental responsibilities. “We feel we are now well positioned for a bright and exciting future,” he said.

    Competitive manufacturing is bringing benefits to a cross section of industry companies including commercial sheet-fed, labels, digital and web.

    Printing Industries can assist with government incentives potentially making implementation cost neutral as well as delivering a company-wide embedded framework for sustainable improvement.

    Participating companies include:
    NSW: Labelcraft, Planet Press, Lindsay Yates Group, Rawson Graphics, GEON Group, TMA Group.
    Victoria: Lithocraft, Bambra Press, Labelhouse, Mystique, Lakeside Packaging.
    Western Australia: Picton Press, Quality Press, GEON Group, Lamb Print, Crystal Printing.
    South Australia: Lane Print Group, Multi-Colour, E.S. Wigg & Sons, CCL Clear Image.
    Queensland: GEON Group.

    Information is available by contacting Ian Walz on (02) 8789 7362 E: ian@printnet.com.au or www.leanandgreen.com.au

  • Early bird drupa specials end this week

    Only a short time remains to take advantage of special Early Bird flight prices if you are planning to travel to Germany in May next year for drupa 2012.

    The specials are available for all major airlines and finish on 30 November 2011. To guarantee rooms in Düsseldorf, accommodation packages must be finalised soon.

    Printing Industries
    travel partner, Marty Knespal from Eastern Suburbs Travel, says accommodation only bookings have a choice of three Düsseldorf hotels starting from as little as $1600 per person.

    “This covers seven nights and includes an Aussie Night dinner ticket and Happy Hour invitations. All our hotels are centrally located in downtown Düsseldorf, a convenient tram or cab ride to the showground and a short walk to the famed Old Town.

    “We offer a full comprehensive range of travel services including best available flights and accommodation or if you prefer to use frequent flyer tickets, you can also book land only packages,” he says.

    Printing Industries’ Get Ready to Succeed drupa tour travel agents can be contacted on (02) 9388 0666 or toll free 1800 634 714 or email to estclovelly@optusnet.com.au

  • Double vision for single width users

    Mixing things up for the New Year, the Single Width Users Group’s (SWUG) will host its next conference at Fairfax Media’s double-width press site at Ormiston.

    According to Bob Lockley, SWUG President, this will be the first time the conference has been hosted by a double-width press site. Held in Queensland from 23 to 25 March, the 2012 annual conference will take place at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre right in the heart of Brisbane.

    “Ormiston is one of the most modern newspaper printing sites in the country and features the latest double-width press to be commissioned here,” he says.

    The site features a four-tower Goss Uniliner pressline capable of printing 128 pages of back-to-back colour, with an inline Ferag StreamStitch stitch and trim unit. It also includes a Ferag publishing room and Kodak CTP.

    “Both single and double width press sites face many of the same issues these days in terms of maintenance, OH&S, the environment and improving productivity,” said Lockley.

    “Queensland is always a popular destination for the SWUG conference, so we are expecting a good turn-out in 2012.”

    Nominations are now open for the 2012 SWUG Apprentice of the Year award and the biennial SWUG Leadership scholarship.

    The winning apprentice will receive a $5,000 trip to visit printing plants and supply company factories. While the scholarship winner will receive a $20,000 all-expenses paid educational trip to visit international industry sites and attend the drupa trade show in Düsseldorf.

  • More printing takeovers in Melbourne

    Well-known industry player J&J Printing has bought out AR Binding and the Noble Park-based Manark Printing.

    The move continues the consolidation of Melbourne’s print industry that has been underway for the past few years. This development will see Tony Knight’s award winning print shop, Manark Printing absorbed under the umbrella of J&J. With a turnover of around $4 million and over 50 print awards to its credit, the industry-recognised name will remain.

    With the added acquisition of Moorabbin-based AR Binding the Murphy family company will add extra capacity to its already comprehensive finishing facilities.

    J&J Printing occupies three buildings in Dandenong, housing everything from offset presses to foil stamping, embossing, and a bindery.

    Both trade shops will run business as usual under the J&J Printing banner.

  • Business as usual for manroland in ANZ

    Customer support buoys Steve Dunwell as he grapples with the insolvency of parent company in Germany.

    The fallout from the unexpected crash of manroland has sent shock waves around the printing world. The administrator at the company’s HQ in Augsberg, Bavaria is tasked with finding further investment and with maintaining the operation of the press manufacturer.

    According to Steve Dunwell, managing director, manroland Australasia, the local company is solid and solvent. “It’s business as usual here, as far as I’m concerned. We’ve still got our service team in place and spare parts in stock. We can also purchase spares from Germany when we need to,” he said.
    Although aware of the negotiations with the potential investor, the insolvency came as a shock to Dunwell. He spent the weekend contacting customers and assuring them of continuing service.

    “We created a good business here during the past two years. If we can maintain positive cash flow we will carry on trading as usual,” he said. “So it’s important that our customers pay their bills on time. I’ve had very positive support from our customers, which makes you feel good.”

    He is confident the administrator will fulfil existing orders, notably the big 98-page presses for both IPMG and PMP as announced this month.

  • The winds of change: 28 November 2011

    This week’s movement in the printing industry sees Claudia Sagripanti step down as CEO of Publishers Australia, plus Epson expands the knowledge base of its industrial label business with Trevor Crowley and Roger Lundgren joining the team.

    PA CEO steps down

    Claudia Sagripanti has finished her one-year contract as CEO of Publishers Australia, leaving the association to focus on the mobile media space.

    According to Sagripanti, with the launch of its inaugural Magazine Week conference accomplished, it is time to move on to focusing specifically on tablet and mobile opportunities.

    “I’ve enjoyed working with the members of Publishers Australia, and delighted with what I’ve achieved on areas such as digital publishing, and the launch of Young Minds and Women in Publishing,” she says.

    Geoff Hird, association chairman, wishes Sagripanti the best in her new role. "We thank Claudia for her contribution to the evolution of Publishers Australia over the past 12 months. The PA team delivered a great conference for Magazine Week and an exceptional Excellence Awards.”

    Epson sure about its SurePress

    Epson has called upon the technical experience of Trevor Crowley and Roger Lundgren to develop new opportunities for its first digital label press, the SurePress L-4033A.

    Craig Heckenberg, Epson Australia’s business unit manager, is extremely happy to have both experienced professionals join the commercial and industrial teams.

    “I look forward to working with both of them as we expand our print business into the industrial label market,” he says.

    Crowley (pictured) has been appointed as Epson’s commercial and industrial BDM, while Lundgren has taken the position of hardware support engineer for industrial products.

    With over 25 years in printing, Crowley previously held the NSW business manager hat for Avery Dennison for almost three years. Prior to this was a seven-year spell at Sericol/Fujifilm as an application specialist for the Label Ink division.

    As a pre-press application specialist with the Currie Group for almost five years, Lundgren (pictured) handled everything related to HP Indigo digital presses from installation, training and support. He also helped customers handle HP’s plug-ins for Adobe InDesign and QuarkXpress, including modules for imposition and variable data.

  • The Great Recession’s impact on print – William Mitting drupa article

    With the industry suffering from a paralysis invoked by the economic crisis eyes will turn to drupa 2012 to see how the future will shape up.

    The impact of banks withdrawing support at the start of the recession was exacerbated by the effect of the internet on traditional printing services. Many companies in the sector reacted slowly while others spotted the potential of integrated multi-channel communications.

    Another clear trend before the recession was the consolidation of the industry as traditional printing firms merged to realise the economies of scale required by shrinking margins.

    Fortunately not all areas of the print industry have been hit as hard by the recession such as the packaging printing segment. However, almost all operations have had to adapt to survive and business models have evolved to meet the new market reality with overheads and staffing levels cut to retain sustainability. Business processes have also had to develop to realise increased efficiencies.

    Manufacturers have been hit hard by the decline in investment and continue to monitor the current market movements. As well as cutting overheads and shelving new product development, they have adopted a new approach to help their clients through the recession by becoming consultants and offering business training and support in implementing new business models that can be enabled by their investments.

    Trade Associations, too, have had to work harder to meet the demands of their members, particularly as the turnover, number of enterprises and employees in the industry declined.

    Recessions are a tough but essential part of the economic cycle. Companies that innovate to survive, such as taking advantage of the digital revolution to add to their portfolio of client services, become stronger and more efficient. The traditional print business model, price-driven and product-focussed, is no longer fit for purpose.

    Companies that have emerged have done so stronger and wiser and are competing in a smaller industry. As and when the economy recovers, these businesses will be well placed to reap the rewards of their determination.

  • Ask not for whom the bell tolls, manroland bankruptcy… Andy McCourt commentary

    The sad news from Friday that manroland has filed for insolvency in its hometown of Augsburg, Germany should also light a beacon of awareness in the global printing and converting industry.

    As one who worked for manroland – MAN Roland as it was then – distributor Edwards Dunlop Graphics in the 1980s (although on the prepress side), I felt a particular pang of regret that this great contributor to world literacy, information and entertainment via the printed word, should find itself in such dire straits. In those days, EDG handled the sheetfed presses while Craven Print & Pack handled the web presses.

    I recall some of the pioneering work performed right here in Australia, on newspaper colour at the Cairns Post. Driven by News Ltd’s desire to change their titles from ‘Black and white and read all over’ to full-colour, what we see coming off manroland Colorman and Newsman presses today is a direct result of that research.

    Australian innovation in newspaper colour with manroland was not new even then. In my collection of Penrose Annuals of the Graphic Arts dating back to 1895, there is a copy of the world’s first offset colour newspaper – The Melbourne Argus, printed by Wilson & McKinnon on a 2/2 Man-Vomag press in 1926. The paper path was modified by Argus engineers and quite acceptable 3-colour process printing was achieved on one side of the web. It made world news.

    The Bavarian company’s affiliation with the towns of Augsburg and Offenbach are legendary. Augsburg provides the web presses since it was here that Carl Reichenbach, a nephew of KBA founder Friedrich K?ening, started a manufacturing plant in 1844. The ‘Roland’ side came from the merger of the former Faber & Schleicher sheetfed press business in Offenbach, whose presses bore the Roland brand name.

    Augsburg is a very proud and ancient city, established by the Roman Emperor Augustus in 15BC. It has featured in many world-changing events including the League of Augsburg – of which England was an alliance member, keeping France’s ambitions in check in the 17th century.

    THAT’S HISTORY, IS THERE A FUTURE?

    Indeed manroland can look back on an illustrious past, but at the forefront of people’s minds – especially major backer Allianz Group – is whether or not there is a future for the world’s third largest press manufacturer.

    I believe that manroland’s troubles can be traced back many years to decisions made and not made when opportunities presented themselves. German industrial policy itself has to be held to account. Jealously guarding German industrial output, repeated attempts at rationalizing their over-bloated press manufacturing industry have been thwarted. In a globalised economy, one medium-sized European country can not be expected to maintain hegemony in a declining market, beset by competition of both geographic and new media genres.

    Manroland should have been on a slow-burn, managed rationalization long ago, particularly in its sheefed division. Teutonic squabbles with Heidelberg and KBA ensured that no one could see the wood for the trees.

    Then there was DICOweb, manroland’s attempt at a digital press in the late 1990s. Although clever in that it could image, de-image and then re-image the cylinders, it was another case – the other ones being Heidleberg’s early Nexpress and KBA’s Karat – of an offset manufacturer trying to build a digital press to offset paradigms. Only recently did manroland acknowledge that digital is a completely new medium, by partnering with Oce on its Jetstream line of Kyocera-headed inkjet presses.

    There is a future for manroland, which will no doubt be of great encouragement to News Ltd and Fairfax who so depend on its newspaper presses. But it’s a future without sheetfed in my view, at least in the commercial sector. Possibly, contract manufacturing of larger format multicolour presses aimed at the packaging market could be retained at Offenbach but I think manroland should get out of commercial sheetfed offset completely, or sell the factories to China or India. Roland has a good name in India, perhaps the board – or administrators – should look to the subcontinent for salvation, in the way that Goss found a white knight in Shanghai Electric, China.

    Web presses are largely built-to-order so Augsburg should be able to continue to function and serve its numerous customers with the world’s favourite newspaper and heatset web presses.

    The digital venture; hardly out of the nursery, is a tough one. Double, treble, even quadruple mark-ups may make manroland uncompetitive. With the exception of the ColorStream 3500, Oce’s presses come from Miyakoshi in Japan and Miyakoshi also now manufactures for Xerox. My thoughts are that manroland should develop its own ‘DigiMAN’ to go with its LithoMAN, ColorMAN, NewsMAN etc.

    This could be an OEM from the likes of Impika, Miyakoshi or Screen, or an in-house inkjet press using available technology, in much the same way as RR Donnelly in the USA has designed and built its own high volume inkjet web presses.

    Whatever happens, it won’t be pretty to watch. 5,000 German workers will not be paid this month and many of those jobs are unsustainable anyway.

    Good luck, manroland. Companies can come out of insolvency and turn-around; I hope you are one of them.