Archive for September, 2013

  • Winds of change: Haisman joins Screen

    Screen has appointed former managing director of QI Press Controls Australasia, James Haisman, as its manager for the Northern Region covering NSW, ACT and Queensland.

    Peter Scott, managing director of Screen Australia welcomed Haisman’s global experience and achievements. “He has advanced commercial skills and is accustomed to negotiating capital equipment investments within the printing industry, that fall within the price range in which we operate. I believe that customers will find it a pleasure meeting and dealing with him. Screen welcomes him onboard,” said Scott. 

    Haisman has relocated from Melbourne to Sydney to take up the position. He first moved to Australia from the UK in 2005 to establish optical measurement and control systems developer for web-offset presses, QI Press Controls Australasia, where he was managing director up to 2010.

    He was also the international general manager of PressTech and has years of experience in the flexo and gravure packaging sector during his time with corona treatment specialists Sherman and Softal.

    “I have always been motivated by close dealings with customers, determining the best solutions for their businesses and following through to ensure mutual success. Screen is renowned for equipment quality, service and, since entering the digital printing sector, innovation and market leadership. I am delighted to get onboard with Screen and look forward to re-acquainting myself with customers who I know and to meeting new ones,” said Haisman.

    Haisman holds a BA (Hons) in International Studies and also attended the Royal Military College in Sandhurst. He is currently three years into a Juris Doctor law degree from Monash University.

  • Jet Technologies people stick together at LabelExpo

    A good turnout of local label converters for Jet Technologies’ Brussels dinner reinforces the amount of interest in the sector for new converting technologies.

    More than 60 people turned up this time around when Jet Technologies hosted its customary LabelExpo dinner in the centre of Brussels. Even then there were some disappointed show visitors as the restaurant reached capacity.

    Amid a scattering of supply partners the Regional label professionals included a number from Indonesia, where Jet Technologies is expanding with an office in Jakarta. “It’s always a challenge putting different cultures together but everyone seemed to have a really good time. The evening went really well, with many clients who had never met and some who had, swapping all kinds of experiences and label ‘war stories’”, said Jack Malki, director of Jet Technologies.

    The event not only emphasizes the networking benefits for label converters who made the trip but also the breadth of Jet Technologies offerings in the label sector. For much of the show Malki and his team were on the Screen stand with the new TruePress. He reports plenty of interest in the super- fast digital inkjet.

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  • Epson launches new digital label press for single-pass printing

    Epson has expanded its range of digital label presses with the launch of the SurePress L-6034VW at LabelExpo Europe in Brussels. It’s the first press to use Epson’s new PrecisionCore linehead technology for single pass printing and the first to feature its new LED-cured UV ink with in-line varnish technology.

    The SurePress L-6034VW was first shown as a prototype at drupa 2012 and is now available in two models; one with CMYK with digital varnish and one without white ink. The SurePress L-6034VW and L-6034V models will be available in Australia and New Zealand early next year.

    “The launch of the SurePress L-6034VW puts us in the position of offering two very different presses with two different inksets,” said Duncan Ferguson, director of Epson ProGraphics Europe.

    The press is designed for durable print quality, short to mid-run labels on standard film and paper label substrates between 80mm and 340mm wide.

    The LED lamps used for the curing process lowers the energy consumption. It also enables printing onto heat-sensitive substrates, such as polyethylene (PE).

    According to the Epson the new press has incorporated sophisticated automatic monitoring, maintenance and cleaning features within the SurePress L-6034VW.

    Nozzle State Analysis technology, will automatically sense if a nozzle is not firing and rapidly cleaning and recovering it, in return it minimises downtime, minimises ink waste and ensures continuous printing.

    Each of the six lineheads in the press comprises 11 PrecisionCore printhead modules (totalling 52,800 nozzles) that Epson says delivers precise quality with multi-size dot control and high native resolution.

    The linehead is tuned to work with Epson’s new low-energy LED-cured UV ink and in-line digital varnish technology to deliver a resolution of 600 x 600 dpi at 15m per minute.

    The SurePress L-6034VW gives users the flexibility to print high-opacity white ink first or last to boost image impact on clear and metallic substrates and to expand the variety of labels that can be produced.

    It features a time saving digital varnish feature which it enables the user to apply matte, gloss and even a combination of both in patterned or selective spot varnish effects during printing to achieve a range of finishes. This can be done on the same label or vary from label to label in the same print run.

  • Last five Spandex-Avery Dennison fridge winners

    The final five winners of the Spandex-Avery Dennison hand-wrapped limited edition fridges have been named with Michael Punch, general manager of the Australian Sign & Graphics Association, drawing the lucky print businesses across Australia.

    Michael Punch (right) with Nathan Barclay at the final draw

    “It was a delight to play a role in this fun promotion by drawing the last five winners,” said Punch. “It is yet another example of the versatility and depth of the Sign and Graphics industry, where ASGA is a resource service for nearly 500 members. As the industry grows, we welcome all new membership enquiries, which may be directed through myself.”

    The four-month Spandex-Avery Dennison campaign saw the two give away 20 limited edition fridges to their customers. Jordan Leach, Distribution for ANZ – Business Manger, Avery Dennison, said, “Congratulations to all the lucky winners in the Avery Dennison & Spandex Ice Cold Fridge Promotion. In conjunction with Spandex we feel it is so important to reward our loyal customers with the chance to put something back into their business, and what better way to showcase our products in a fun and functional way with a unique, custom wrapped fridge.”

    Nathan Barclay, marketing manager, Spandex, said, “The last five winners will receive their Ice Cold wrapped fridges within the next week or so. With the weather warming up, they should come in really handy and we look forward to more picture uploads to our facebook page. Congratulations to all twenty winners and thanks for joining in the fun.”

    Joining fifteen previous winners, the following sign shops will each receive a hand-wrapped 240-litre Ice Cold Westinghouse fridge:

     

    Broadley Signs – NSW

    Eyerite Signs – WA

    Panelprint – VIC

    Expressway Signs – QLD

    Check It Out – SA

     

  • Digital or conventional labels – the LabelExpo question

    Same label, different imaging modes – Klaus Bachstein CEO Gallus.

    There are more than 60 digital label printing systems on show at this exhibition in Brussels but to a large extent the industry conversation is still stuck on the relative technical values, not on how to mix and match the different types of imaging.

    Label convertors are facing the same onslaught from digital technology that commercial printers faced ten years ago. Decisions are being made not only on the best fit for their current work but essentially on the  future of their businesses. Sometimes it seems that the fascination with technology is obscuring the reason anyone is in the business in the first place – to make money.

    Fittingly this basic premise was reinforced by Klaus Bachstein, CEO of Gallus, one of the most iconic brands in the industry, at a presentation to the media here at LabelExpo. “The only real question for the label convertor is how and where do I make money?”

    He is promoting the Gallus Print Shop concept that addresses the increasingly common scenario of businesses operating both conventional and digital processes. Using Heidelberg-owned CERM MIS the decision as to the right production path for a particular job is left to the software. To Bachstein it is important to move from the traditionally press-oriented production path to a cost efficiency-oriented production path. It is possible to make a profit using either or both of the printing methods, the trick is to get the mix right.

    Gallus is selling 115 presses per year and to date has 25 installations of its Heidelberg Linoprint L digital press. The ratio is changing fast but for the industry to get the benefit of all the different types of imaging technology available, the conversation has to move beyond ‘either/or.’

     

     

  • Kodak and Bobst pack a punch with deal

    Kodak and Bobst have teamed up, with the imaging giant’s technology to be integrated into the Bobst portfolio for packaging production equipment, in response to the increasing demand for new flexible, folding carton and corrugated solutions.

    Agreement: Antonio M. Perez (left); Jean-Pascal Bobst (right)

    The strategic development agreement between the two manufacturers will see Bobst work on the development of innovative products based on Kodak technology. To extend its capabilities of packaging production equipment, Bobst has decided to join forces with Kodak due to the company’s strength in the digital arena.

    Jean-Pascal Bobst, chief executive officer of Bobst Group said, “Flexibility, time to market and improved total cost of ownership are increasingly important to our customers. Our companies are working together on innovative industrial solutions that will offer our customers opportunities to expand their businesses. We are looking forward to the completion of development work and rigorous testing, and ultimately to the announcement of innovations to our customers.”

    According to Antonio M. Perez, chairman and chief executive officer, Kodak, the agreement is an example of how Kodak wants to do business by leveraging its technologies through collaboration and synergistic product development for the benefits of its customers, partners and Kodak.

    “Bobst is admired throughout the packaging industry as a provider of high-quality solutions and for anticipating and meeting the changing needs of its customers. Bobst’s commitment to introducing innovative products, its loyal customer base, and Kodak’s portfolio of advanced technologies, including the Kodak Stream Inkjet technology, are a powerful combination that we believe will stimulate growth and transformation for Bobst customers and for our industry,” said Perez.

     

  • Biggest LabelExpo in Brussels reflects industry trends

    Label converters look to carton and flexible packaging for extra growth opportunities as narrow web technology expands its capabilities.

    Defying the downward trend in international trade shows, LabelExpo opened on Tuesday with 600 exhibitors showing converting technology from 37 countries. Increasing the number of halls the show occupies to seven in the massive Expo complex, the organizers, Tarsus, are predicting more than 30,000 trade visitors over the four days.

    Brussels Expo is label centre

    The health of the show is a reflection of growth in the label sector, estimated by industry guru, Mike Fairley, to be steady at three to five percent globally. However with the flexible packaging sector posting eight percent growth, the trend is for label converters, in the same way that commercial printers are doing, to diversify from their core production to get a piece of the larger action, a market estimated at US$76.5 billion.

    One of the major themes of the show is the expanding capability of narrow web machines, flexo and digital, to produce a wide range of small flexible packages and cartons. Most presses are being presented as suitable for labels and flexible carton production.

    Thre is a distinct digital flavour to this LabelExpo, even if the sector is confined to its own Hall 9 in the complex. Despite claiming less than two per cent of the overall volume of 46 billion square metres converted every year, 20 percent of all narrow web pressses now being sold are digital.

    Inevitably HP Indigo claimed pole position in announcements with the launch of a silver ink to complement its WS6600 digital label press. More than 500 of these best selling machines are now in the industry and according to the company the volume of labels printed on its engines grew by more than 25 percent in a year.

    It again showcased its B2-size presses, the HP Indigo 20000, the 30-inch web for flexible packaging and labels as well as the HP Indigo 30000 for folding cartons. The latter is promised to the market by this time next year, while the former should be getting its first installations early in the new year.

    Alon Bar Shany, general manager, made the point that so far HP Indigo has met all its production and launch deadlines.

    Arguably an even more significant announcement on the first day came with the launch by Epson of its PrecisionCore technology. This latest generation thin film piezo inkjet technology has three times the nozzle density and generates 40 million precisely controlled drops per second. It is completely scalable, ultra fast utilising micro electric mechanics [MEMS].

    First engine to make use of the new PrecisionCore is the SurePress L-6034, a UV ink label press that produces 15 metres per minute across a 33 centimetre web. This is the second label press from Epson, following the introduction of the SurePress L-4033. There are already three of the engines in New Zealand. Craig Heckenburg, Epson Australia, says he is bringing in the new model to the company’s Sydney showroom as soon as it is available, some time around the middle of next year.

    According to Minoru Usui, president and driving force behind Epson, the PrecisionCore technology will change the game for inkjet industrial printing. He made the point that Epson is the only company that builds every part of its technology from the inkjet heads to the press frame and the formulation of the ink.

    LabelExpo opened to good crowds and the aisles were well filled from the word go. It is refreshing to come across so many Australian and New Zealand printers and convertors who have made the trip. Without exception they are all busy, confident and secure in the future of their industry. It’s worth being here if only to experience that.

     

  • Be quick – submissions for NSW PICA’s close on Friday

    NSW PICA entry deadlines have been extended until 5pm this Friday, September 27,  following a late change to make it easier for companies to enter the business categories. The new deadline applies to both print and business category award entrants.

    Bill Healey, CEO and State Manager NSW, Printing Industries,  said it was decided to create a submission template for the four business categories when it became apparent that many potential entrants were having difficulty assessing how much information they needed to submit. 

    “We have met this challenge by providing a template Submission form which, when filled, in can be used as their submission along with any other supporting material they may have. The template has a series of tips against each of the criteria to help companies to compose their entry. We hope this will make the process simpler and encourage more companies to participate,” Healey said.

    According to Healey, while most of the focus was on the print awards, the business categories were also important and reflected activities already undertaken. “I believe the vast majority of our industry businesses engage in forms of innovation, education and training, environmental initiatives – particularly our Sustainable Green Print companies – and everyone has OH&S strategies. If you are doing it well, this is an opportunity to highlight your achievement and potentially be rewarded with a gold, silver or bronze medal for your efforts,” said Healey.

    The individual business category forms can be downloaded from these links:

    Education and Training Initiatives    Environmental Initiatives    Innovative Business Practices    Occupational Health and Safety Initiatives

    PICA Entry forms can be downloaded here and the Call for Entries category brochure here Media Super Future Leaders Award here

  • ISSUE 595 – September 24

    A slowdown in sales has seen Ferrostaal restructure its business operations, with Markus Haefeli leaving his position as the company’s chief executive officer.

    Meanwhile, The Visual Impact Show has been hit hard by the change of venue with visitor numbers down by 20 per cent. Exhibitor numbers were also down – by some 15 per cent.

    Elsewhere, a fall in print ad revenue forces newspaper write-downs for News Corp.

    You’re one of almost 9,000 industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand who rely on Print21 to stay up to date.

  • Whatever happened to Memjet’s inventor? – Andy McCourt’s ReVerb

    It is now almost 18 months since the US George Kaiser Family Foundation took full control of the Australian-developed Memjet print technology, invented by Kia Silverbrook and his team at Silverbrook Research in Sydney. In this week’s ReVerb, Andy McCourt finds out what Silverbrook is up to now.

    Kia Silverbrook

    While Memjet appears to have gone forward strongly, with more OEM deals signed by big names such as Xerox and Canon and no less than 14 Memjet-powered printers on display at the recent Print13 show in Chicago; little or nothing has been heard of notoriously media-shy Kia Silverbrook – he of the 5,000+ patents and passionate inventor.

    The 2012 legal battle that was settled behind closed doors and saw San Diego CA based Memjet Inc take full control, has undoubtedly succeeded in commercializing the technology via OEM partner arrangements where the Memjet Waterfall print engine is incorporated into printers covering formats from labels, envelopes and A4 sheets up to 42” wide format and even an SRA2 sheetfed press from Delphax. While no one can doubt the brilliance of Silverbrook Research’s R&D, sellable products were elusive for many years with the notable exception of Australia’s RapidX who launched the X1 Memjet-powered label press at Ipex 2010.

    But what of Mr Silverbrook himself? The Memjet settlement stated he would consult to the company but his name has not cropped up in any dispatches. Print21 can now reveal that Kia Silverbrook is still inventing away in the print media, health diagnostics and solar energy fields and now lists around 9,000 patents to his name, making him by far the most prolific inventor Australia has ever produced.

    Kia Silverbrook’s main project appears to be Netpage Pty Ltd, a company he registered in October 2012 with its registered office at 6 Montague Street, Balmain NSW. Netpage is an App that magazine publishers can use to deliver interactive content from printed pages to smart phones and tablets. The pages are not simple PDFs or readers, they become shareable, archivable, organizable and are fully interactive with social media. www.netpage.com

    In Kia’s own words from his Linkedin page:

    “Netpage is the original inventor and developer of Interactive Paper – the thorough integration of the world of print with the internet. Having finally solved the chicken and egg problem (which came first, the content or the users?) that plagues all new media platforms, the Netpage Browser for Print has been launched. Netpage has been available since the December 2012 edition of Esquire Magazine in the USA and the March 2013 edition of Marie Claire. In Australia, it is available in various Pacific Magazines titles, including New Idea, Famous, Marie Claire, and Better Homes and Gardens. It is available on iPhone and Android smartphones, and automatically creates a web site for your clippings that is somewhat like Pinterest. Convergence of media happens only rarely, as once converged, media stays converged. The convergence of print and computing is a historic event, and is happening now. Netpage goes much further than you imagine, as will become evident over the next decade.”

    Netpage is currently being rolled out by Pacific Magazines here in Australia. Marie Clare editor Jackie Frank told The Australia’s Media section the technology was “a dream” adding:

    “It unlocks the pages of the magazine (but) it keeps the focus on the magazine instead of driving people off,” she said. “It’s the bridge between print and digital, completely connecting the two media.”

    Pacific Magazine’s CEO and publishing veteran from his ACP days, Nick Chan calls Netpage a ‘game changer’:

    We know we have the audience there and we know we have an engaged audience,” he said.”This allows us to sell off the page in a much more efficient way (and) start to demonstrate to advertisers that people do get influenced by magazines,” he told The Australian.

    Netpage’s corporate structure is with Kia Silverbrook as sole director as a $1 company but the website, registered in the USA, lists David Brewster as ‘Board Advisor’ with skills in capital raising and as a corporate lawyer/strategist. He is also a visiting fellow at ANU Canberra’s Strategic and Defense Studies Centre and an acknowledged expert on the rise of India.

    Silverbrook still lists himself as Founder and CEO of Silverbrook Research, since 1994, with Memjet having been ‘spun off’ in 2002 and a customer thereafter. His other interests include, since 2011, Superlattice Solar, a long-term project to develop thin-film photovoltaic panels able to generate electricity at 25 cents per watt. He is also Founder and Chairman of Geneasys, a genetic analysis device that can be used with PCs, Laptops and Smartphones to detect diseases from DNA material.

    So this is where Kia Silverbrook, Australian inventor and serial entrepreneur, is today: still inventing and still entrepreneur-ing.

    It’s good to know he still believes in print and, with Netpage, is bridging the gap between the printed page and the interactivity of smartphones and tablet computers, with some early successes with Seven West’s Pacific Magazines.

    We haven’t heard the last of him.

     

     

  • Save your energy with a little help: Print21 feature

    In the face of on-going electricity and gas prices rises, many printers are turning to energy efficiency experts to help them reduce energy consumption and cut costs. Peter Hawkins looks at what these services can deliver and how to find the right external partner.

    Employing strategies to reduce fixed costs is becoming increasingly important due to the significant impact on the bottom line. The old adage that you ‘can’t save your way to growth’ rings true but significant opportunities exist for reductions in operational costs, particularly around energy expenses. In an industry like the printing industry where net margins at 10 per cent are not uncommon, a 10 per cent or $10,000 saving in energy expense is equivalent to securing a sales order of $100,000. I know which is the easier option and the one I would go for.

    One of the easiest quick wins is through energy efficiency. This is a must for every printing business due to the continual uncertainty with electricity and gas price rises. But, remember, cost reduction requires a robust and methodical approach to deliver the cash to the bottom line.

    How much have energy prices really risen? Up until 2007, retail electricity prices increased at about the same rate as inflation. But from mid-2007 onwards, electricity prices have risen rapidly, with NSW and Victoria seeing increases of more than 100 per cent above the national average. In fact this year (2012-13), electricity prices increased by 14 per cent, continuing the trend of double-digit increases which started in 2007. And there are no signs it is going to stop. In March 2013, the Australian Energy Market Commission published a report on future electricity price trends in which it estimated that, nationally, the aggregated distribution network price will increase by 6 per cent annually from 2013 to 2015.

    Similarly, we are seeing increases in gas prices with NSW facing an average 8.5 per cent hike in gas bills from July 1 2013, adding to concerns that a nationwide surge in gas prices is inevitable.

    Make real savings

    Just as there is innovation in printing, so there is innovation in energy efficiency. Chris Hay, CEO of energy efficiency consultants Mojarra, is working closely with a number of Australia’s leading printing companies to identify and deliver real and significant cost savings through energy efficiency.

    Hay says: “Whilst every site and project is different, typical solutions for our printing clients have involved different combinations of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, lighting and lighting controls, power factor correction, voltage optimisation, optimisation of building management systems, renewable energy systems and energy management systems and processes, and using energy efficient plant and equipment.”

    He adds that the most successful energy efficiency projects have a process that identifies the savings opportunities for a site and ranks these based on their potential to deliver sustained and significant savings and to meet return on investment criteria.

    “You then need to ensure on-going measurement and verification of the savings. This is what you’re paying for and the value flows from the on-going delivery of those savings.”

    Finding the right partner

    So should you engage external partners? Often the opportunity costs are ignored in evaluating whether or not to involve external partners. Most organisations are tempted to have a go at reducing costs on the basis of ‘how hard can it be?’ But the impact of delays, poor execution, and missed opportunities will outweigh the cost of investing in professional help.

    From my dealings with a number of external partners, these are the questions you should ask yourself before choosing a partner.

    1. Is your external partner product independent? An independent provider will ensure the best solution for your site for your particular needs.
    2. Can your external provider deliver the projects? Engage a company that guarantees savings and will execute the project end-to-end. That way you avoid the finger pointing if the savings are not delivered.
    3. Can your external provider help identify funding opportunities that may exist for your projects? Don’t miss out – there is a range of grants and finance available for energy efficiency projects that can significantly improve your payback.
    4. Is your external partner experienced? Engage a company that is a recognised leader in energy efficiency and delivers a turn-key solution. It’s a specialised field and you need to rely on them. This will also allow you to focus on what you know best, which is running a printing business, and get them to focus on what they know best – delivering cost savings through energy efficiency.

    Printers have two options: either do nothing and be at the mercy of the energy suppliers as prices continue to rise, resulting in year-on-year increases in costs, or invest in energy efficiency programs from experts who will work with you on guaranteed savings, eliminating investment risk.

    Peter Hawkins is business development manager for Printing Industries. He has a long history in media and marketing including director of commercial business, Fox Sports, and publisher and owner of Identity Publishing. <peterh@printnet.com.au>.

  • Roland DG expands its benchtop line with VersaUV LEF-20

    Wide format manufacturer Roland DG has launched its latest edition of benchtop UV inkjet printers, the VersaUV LEF-20, offering a more powerful LED curing system.

    The LEF-20 prints directly on materials up to 20-inches (508mm) in width, 300mm in length and 100mm in height. It features a UV-LED lamp that cures the ink at a faster pace compared to previous models, and prints at more than twice the speed for CMYK and gloss varnish.

    The new printer is targeted at businesses that produce custom promotional products, giftware and awards, and business that specialise in UV printed items for the packaging and prototyping markets. “Since its introduction two years ago, the LEF series has opened up new creative possibilities for these businesses, enabling direct printing on a wide variety of solid materials,” said John Wall, sales director, Roland DG Australia.

    Users can automatically set up the LEF-20 for their most popular jobs, saving time and labour with up to 20 different presets available to store settings for both the print area and height position.

    “We have taken this technology to the next level. In addition to expanding the print area, we have introduced the new LED curing system, advanced ECO-UV inks, and optomised print control technology which increase the productivity and performance of the LEF-20,” said Wall.

    It comes with Roland Eco-UV ink in CMYK, white and clear formulations for a wider colour gamut, bright, high-opacity white images and text, and premium varnishing and embossing effects.

    For jobs requiring transparent or dark coloured materials, the LEF-20 features an Eco-UV high-density white ink and optimised print technology, while clear Eco-UV ink can be layered into patterns and textures in both gloss and matte finishes.

    The LEF-20 has an enclosed airtight cover to protect the user from UV light during printing and to prevent dust from settling onto the surface of materials. The flatbed design automatically adjusts the distance between the print head and the surface of the material for maximum print quality of the LEF-20.

    It comes with Roland VersaWorks RIP point management software for easy operation of the printer and job management. It allows the user to choose from generic print mode for printing fine details and distance mode for printing on curved surfaces. Variable date printing is also included, making it easier to personalise printed objects with individualised serial numbers, logos, graphics and names.

  • Spandex and Epson host Open Days

    Spandex and Epson have teamed up to present a series of Open Days in NSW, Queensland and WA, with a focus on Epson’s Surecolor SC range of 64” (1625mm) safe solvent printers and new ‘F’ series of dye sublimation printers.

    Alex McClelland, managing director, Spandex said, “These Open Days are a great way for sign and display businesses to maximize their knowledge base and opportunities one-on-one with experts from both Epson and Spandex. 

    “It’s also a great use of time as visitors can pick what time they come in and know that they can get straight onto the learning curve and demonstrations.”

    The first Open Day with Spandex is at Epson’s North Ryde, Sydney, showroom on September 26, followed by open days in Queensland and WA during October. The Open Days will show how wide format printers can add profitable services such as dye sublimated gifts, clothing, sports apparel and corporate items.

    For Epson’s ‘F’ series dye-sub printers for transferring to fabrics, sport apparel and soft signage; Spandex also supplies digital heat presses and Teflon protection sheets.

    The dates and locations are:

    NSW Open Day: September 26, at Epson, 3 Talavera Rd, North Ryde

    QLD Open Day: October 15, at Spandex, 33 Gassman Dr, Yatala

    WA Open Day: October 23, at Spandex, 26 Milrose Dr, Malaga

    The Open Days are free to attend and refreshments will be provided.

    To register click here

     

  • Rapid Machinery founder Bruce Mansell injured in car crash

    Well-known industry identity and founder of Rapid Machinery, Bruce Mansell, is in a serious but stable condition having been airlifted to Westmead Hospital following a traffic collision in Dural, NSW.

    Police are still working out how the accident happened but it involved a tourist bus and Bruce’s vehicle which was towing a vintage car North on Old Northern Road. Bruce (70) is also a keen restorer of vintage cars amongst his many engineering talents.

    His son, Nick Mansell who is General Manager of the business said “We are devastated that this has happened just as Dad was able to spend more time on his passion for vintage and classic car restoration. Anyone that knows my father knows that he is a born fighter and will never give up. He took on the world from the 1980s, manufacturing Rapid label presses here in Australia and exporting them to 54 countries. He is a familiar face at international trade fairs flying the Australian manufacturing flag and has earned the respect of customers and friends on every continent.”

    The Rapid Machinery companies are based in Chatswood, NSW and, under Nick’s guidance, recently moved into all-digital label press production which has proved very successful with over 200 presses shipped worldwide since launching in 2010. Nick Mansell was awarded the inaugural GATI (Graphic Arts Technology Innovator) award for this work in May 2013.

    Bruce Mansell’s wife Marion who has been by his side every step of his business and life journey, remains at his side awaiting his recovery. The Mansell family have requested some space and privacy at this stage to deal with the immediate situation. A further statement will be issued in the near future.

    Please direct messages of goodwill for Bruce Mansell to:

    Andy McCourt

    mccourt consulting & communications

    E: mccourt.andrew@gmail.com

    Good wishes will be printed out and delivered to the family all together at this difficult time, to enable them to focus on Bruce’s recovery.

    Print21 wishes Bruce the quickest of recoveries.

  • Heidelberg SX 74 drives labels productivity for Garsu

    Lithuanian labels and packaging printer Garsu Pasaulis has boosted its productivity of metallised label paper by 70 per cent with a six-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 74.

    The Baltic company produces a large number of metallised label papers in grammages ranging from 65 to 80 gsm. They invested in a Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 74 with a chambered-blade coating unit in order to meet the requirements of the beverage industry and boost productivity.

    Vytautas Vainikonis, co-owner, Garus Pasaulis said, “The new Speedmaster SX 74 is the best possible press for us. It enables us to meet our customers’ stringent quality requirements and increase our productivity in the label segment.” 

    The Speedmaster SX 74 is being run throughout the day, seven days a week enabling Garsu Pasaulis to produce more than a million sheets a month. Its down time during production has dropped to virtually zero since the installation.

    “The stability of sheet travel, the dampening and inking system, and ease of use are particularly outstanding features of this press. The Speedmaster SX 74 has surpassed our expectations in productivity. We simply couldn’t achieve that with our previous press. It is also easy to use thanks to the Prinect Press Centre. Now the entire machine can be run from a central control station,” said Joans Jonaitis, technical director at Garsu Pasaulis.

    According to Jürgen Grimm, head of the sheetfed business at Heidelberg, the machines are proving to be popular in both the commercial and packaging printing sectors.

     

  • Workflow dominates Print 13, Pt.1 – David L. Zwang

    US-based industry commentator David L. Zwang looks at the many new production workflow solutions that were introduced at Print 13 in Chicago.  Part one of a two article review for Print21 addresses production workflow solutions.

    For those of you who have been reading the ‘Transforming and automating workflows series‘ on Print21, Zwang has strong feelings regarding the need to research and implement a good infrastructure to help businesses transform and automate their production systems.

     

    Workflow dominates Print13 – Part one

    There were many new MIS/ERP business and production workflow systems announced at Print13. Some are cloud-based solutions, some are new and/or updated server based on-site solutions, and others offer a hybrid model with either a combination of cloud-based and local servers, or a choice between the two with a clear migration path.

    One very important product introduction was Adobe PDF Print Engine 3 (APPE3) . In a previous article, we discussed the important role the RIP core plays in any production DFE and workflow. Since APPE is at the core of many of the production DFE and production workflow systems in the market, this announcement will ultimately affect most of them. The new ‘Mercury RIP’ architecture brings dynamic load balancing and multiple concurrent processing instances to a single or multiple systems on a network. This is targeted directly at the high speed, high volume production digital print devices and at more efficient handling of variable data jobs. Look for APPE V3 to be included in new DFEs and production systems starting in 2014.

    Pipeline Solutions

    The production workflow solutions shown at Print 2013 all seemed to be addressing automation, although they don’t all approach it in the same way. In the past, we have discussed ‘pipeline’ workflows. These are solutions that provide a way to connect various production tasks together to create the desired process automation. However, based on what we are seeing in the currently available solutions, we need to be a bit more specific on what ‘type’ of pipeline workflow system each of them deploy. Here I arbitrarily break them into three types of pipeline workflows for clarity. Please understand that there likely are features that may blur the lines between the types, but for the most part the overlap is not enough to reclassify them.

    The first type would be a predefined pipeline. This type of offering only allows you to choose how the production files are input and how they are output for a fairly well-defined process. Web-to-print catalog ordering and on-demand book production are examples. The second type is a linear pipeline. This type of solution provides flexibility in how you build the process to support your requirements, but without an intelligent ‘rules based’ infrastructure. In this case, you will need to have individual predefined workflows to address all of your production variables. Finally, the third type is a fully flexible rules-based pipeline solution. The main advantage to rules-based pipeline systems is that you can minimize the number of workflows you need to define as well as the amount of potential operator intervention that is required. In essence, the system can be programmed to make its own intelligent choices.

    Xerox

    Xerox introduced FreeFlow Core at the show. This new technology was designed from the ground up to power a new platform of product offerings and shouldn’t be confused with FreeFlow Process Manager, the legacy Xerox workflow application. FreeFlow Core takes a fundamentally different approach, expanding some of the features and functionality beyond what is currently available or even possible with Process Manager. Core gives customers a more granular control of prepress operations. Xerox is marketing FreeFlow Core in three upgradable configurations: FreeFlow Core Base; Advanced Prepress; and Advanced Automation. The first two configurations, Core Base and Advanced Prepress, include updated versions of many of the process nodes that are currently available in Process Manager that are now Core compatible. These configurations and the supplied nodes can be used in the creation of a linear pipeline workflow, while the Advanced Automation configuration adds rules-based workflow capabilities to the system to enable fully flexible and ‘rule based’ variable workflows.  In taking this approach, Xerox is recognizing that workflow is not “one size fits all,” and allowing a more modular approach to workflow deployment.

    Xerox also showed several new Core enhanced solutions.

    • Xerox IntegratedPLUS Finishing Solution – automates job production from order entry through online or offline finishing in conjunction with the newly designed Imposition node;
    • XMPie StoreFlow – a B2B and B2C all-in-one Web to Print solution that integrates directly to the FreeFlow Core production automation system, providing an end to end workflow;
    • FreeFlow Digital Publisher – an integrated solution that providers service providers with the tools to repurpose print content into media rich mobile and online content.

    XMPie, a Xerox company, whose products are marketed through a variety of channels, also showed its XMPie Circle Marketing Workflow product, including an impressive future roadmap that we will cover in a future article.

    Hybrid Software

    For those of you not familiar with Hybrid Software, many core employees came from the Artwork Systems team, prior to the acquisition of that company by Esko. And while their roots are in packaging prepress, their solutions are also great for print service providers in general. Cloudflow is Hybrid’s new HTML5 browser based workflow platform. It supports the open JSON REST API for scripting and a NoSQL database backend making it easier to integrate with other cloud-based (web) solutions and services. Many of the available modules have been developed, released, and integrated by Hybrid in the last couple of years, but the core platform has been in development for a longer time and the concept as well as the implementation is very interesting.

    The Cloudflow platform is designed to combine local processing with remote processing in a hybrid model, a concept we also saw in the OneFlowCloud solution I previously reviewed. The system uses a user-friendly rules-based pipeline node structure for building workflows which can include Web Portal, file processing, pre-press, and data flow. The platform base is Cloudflow Workspace, and the currently available modules include Cloudflow Proofscope for softproofing, Cloudflow Proofscope Live for PDF editing, Cloudflow Printplanner for layout and VDP, Cloudflow DAM, Cloudflow Pre Press Workflow, and Cloudflow RIP. Some of these modules are developed by PACKZ, a Belgian software company that also has its roots in Artwork Systems. Hybrid Software has also just announced a further partnership with PACKZ to distribute a new packaging prepress application. Hybrid Software will be an exclusive distributor for this solution in most parts of the world and will be introducing it at Labelexpo Brussels later this month.

    Ricoh

    Ricoh TotalFlow Process Director V3 was introduced on March 31, but Print 2013 is its U.S. public debut. This is a significant upgrade to Process Director and Process Director Express, which is a subset of the full Process Director. The application was initially developed by IBM InfoPrint, which was acquired as a subsidiary of Ricoh in 2010 following a period of joint venture between the two companies. Process Director is built on a common backbone that includes an IBM DB2 database and a modular component architecture. This rules-based automation pipeline solution enables the software to be configured to the needs of many different applications, from high volume variable data direct marketing to general commercial print. Initially designed to support the IBM digital roll-fed production presses and applications, V3 added a visual and conditional workflow builder, as well as support for Ricoh cut sheet devices, resulting in a flexible and very scalable production workflow solution.

    Ricoh also introduced TotalFlow DocEnhancer, a rules-based plug-in for Adobe Acrobat that allows users to add, edit, or replace static or variable data in a PDF file destined for print production through a very simple user interface. It is available in two configurations, one that operates as a standalone and one that integrates with Process Director and Process Director Express.

    Kodak

    The introduction of PRINERGY Workflow 6 , Kodak’s rules-based pipeline automation solution, has been anticipated for a while. It has been in development for three years, and Kodak has been testing and seeding it to select customers to ensure it is rock solid at release. We have discussed PRINERGY in past articles, but this new release is undoubtedly a statement of Kodak’s intention to support and grow this platform. This release is focused on enhancing production automation throughout its processes. It includes; PREPS v7 for imposition; COLORFLOW v2, for color management; and INSITE Prepress Portal v6.6.

    However, the big change in PRINERGY 6 is the new browser-based and simplified user interface. This change in itself will undoubtedly streamline production operations for PRINERGY users. The PRINERGY Workflow 6 Workspace is divided into three modules: Plan, Manage, and Track. This helps users manage all jobs and production tasks. Using the underlying PRINERGY Rules-Based Automation (RBA) functionality, you can now set up chains of workflow tasks from receipt of the customer order through prepress through to digital presses and CTP devices. The workflows can be triggered by events or manually by hitting a ‘play’ button.

    HP

    HP showed its latest version of the SmartStream Production Center which is currently a linear pipeline workflow solution that integrates with their other SmartStream offerings. However, we are confident that it will evolve into a rules-based pipeline solution over time.

    Konica Minolta

    Konica Minolta announced and promoted its renewed relationship with Kodak through the integration of the Creo DFE and the optional PRINERGY 6 Workflow solution in addition to its standard EFI Fiery DFE. Konica Minolta also showed two of its own new workflow solutions:

    • EngageIT Automation a predefined production system that operates with a portal and print catalog; and
    • EngageIT XMedia, a cross-media marketing campaign workflow solution. We will cover this in a future article.

    Fujifilm

    Fujifilm showed its XMF production workflow, which was previously introduced. It is primarily a linear pipeline workflow. Fujifilm was the only exhibitor at the show to feature implementation of APPE3 in XMF driving the J Press 720 Inkjet Press.

     Agfa

    While not displaying at Print13, Agfa announced that the new APPE3 will be integrated into both the :Apogee and :Asanti product lines.

    DALIM

    DALIM introduced Twist 7, its latest update to its rules-based production automation solution. Twist 7 updates focus on speed, more complete and flexible job input, and support for BigTIFF and additional printer marks on multi-page documents.

    In the next article, Part Two, we will look at some of the new and updated MIS/ERP business workflow solutions that were introduced at Print 2013 in Chicago.

     

  • From pack to print – a tale of two industries

    Two trade show this year highlighted the fortunes, dynamics and destinies of two different industries. Auspack in Sydney highlighted all that is new and shiny in the packaging market, while PacPrint in Melbourne showed the printing industry at its finest. The differences and parallels reveals a lot about how these two markets are faring and what the future holds. Simon Enticknap (pictured) reflects on the important lessons to be learned.

    Before PacPrint, there was Auspack. The packaging show in Sydney was a sizable event, drawing about 300 exhibitors and a crowd of around 6,000 visitors over four days (compared to 140 exhibitors and 13,000 visitors over five days to PacPrint). There are obvious synergies between the two events – packaging is an important market for print providers and one of the main growth areas in recent years – but it is the differences between them that are most revealing.

    The Auspack show is mounted by the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA), and so the equipment focus is largely on the materials handling aspect of packaging rather its print production. Nevertheless, the print-related exhibits that were on display were interesting and even the non-print equipment was instructive.

    The key difference between the machinery on show at the two exhibitions is that, for the packaging sector, automation is king. Because of the volumes involved and the speed of processing required to keep down costs, practically every action involved in weighing and picking and filling and sealing and transporting packaged goods has to be done by machine. Packaging machinery employs robotics to a degree rarely seen in the printing industry.

    Packaging at this level, typically post-print, is done on an industrial scale and the focus is on making the machinery do it faster, more accurately, more reliably and smarter than ever before. This is an arena in which humans are simply no match.

    Of course, there is automation in the printing industry as well. The big web offset sector has become increasingly robotic with major plants using automated guided vehicles for tasks such as transporting reels of paper. It is now possible to run fully-automated systems from the platesetter to the press that will perform multiple plate changes with no human intervention – apart from telling it what to do.

    In terms of software, prepress, MIS and web-to-print systems are all highly automated these days by necessity. The whole point of having an online ordering system is to let the machine do the order-taking work so your business can be open all hours. Adding automation before a single image is produced helps to drive efficiencies, eliminate bottlenecks and maximise the profitable running of the available equipment.

    Increasingly too, this is flowing through to the operation of the production equipment as well. It was interesting, for instance, to see at PacPrint how Canon’s addition of Océ’s Prisma front-end to its production equipment is now offering operators the ability to run practically a hands-off print room across different types of equipment and presses – managing job loads, calculating optimum run times, and monitoring paper volumes, all via a screen at a central command desk. Very Star Trek.

    Digital presses, in particular, are pretty much designed to manufacture printed products from end-to-end with no human intervention, although what happens to the finished item off the back of the press is still more than likely to require the services of a bipedal hominid of some kind.

    In reality, the implementation of automated systems in the printing industry is rather piecemeal. With some notable exceptions, most print companies are a mix of manual and machine operation. In part this reflects the status of print as an industry. Packaging and processing – the art of filling and boxing – makes no bones about the fact that it is part of the manufacturing sector, the all-important end bit that stands between manufacturers and retailer. Printing, however, is more ambivalent.

    On any given week, I hear experts telling me that printers need to adopt a more manufacturing mindset and eliminate process inefficiencies through the application of more automation. The next moment I’m told that printing must move away from its manufacturing roots and become a service industry in which the production of ‘things’ is secondary to the need to deliver a service. In practice, printers tend to fall between two stools. Such is the nature of print.

    A helping hand

    So how far would you go to automate your press room? For instance, would you employ, so to speak, a robotic arm to pick up boxes or bundles and plonk them down in another location? No? Chances are there will be a European backpacker prepared to lift and carry for a few shekels a day. But will the backpacker work non-stop 24 hours a day (you might have to find three of them)? And will they work without ever getting tired or, worse of all, possibly suffering a work-related injury?

    An interesting demo at Auspack from Ferrostaal was a high-speed palletising robot, billed as the fastest of its kind in the world, suitable for lifting items off a conveyor belt and stacking them neatly on a pallet or in a carton. Such robots are capable of performing thousands of lifts per hour without ever slowing down or needing a rest break. While mainly targeted at packaging applications,Carsten Wendler at Ferrostaal said there had been interest in the robot arm from printers as well.

    Carsten Wendler at Ferrostaal said there had been interest in the robot arm from printer as well.

    Ferrostaal says this system is ‘plug-and-play’, able to be delivered, installed and working on the same day. It comes with a colour touch-screen control that allows operators to store and recall different bundle and pallet sizes, while the gripper enables variable size items to be handled without changing any mechanical parts. Wendler said the ROI on the robot is attractive compared to manual labour.

    Certainly, for any printer needing to palletise or pack regular-sized bundles at high speed, the idea of a robot doing the work is an interesting proposition. Whether there is a role for robots in the print industry on the same scale as in the packaging sector is doubtful though.

    The digital lag

    While the packaging sector leads the way in terms of robotics, in other technology areas it is the printers who forging the way ahead.

    Anybody from outside the print industry who attended PacPrint could be forgiven for thinking that the industry is dominated by digital presses of one type or another. Offset, flexo and gravure technology was pretty thin on the ground despite accounting for the vast majority of the print items produced throughout the industry. Partly this is due to the logistical difficulties of exhibiting these mature technologies but it is also indicative of the mindset of the industry.

    Printers are focused on the future and that means digital; it’s where the truly innovative technology, the processes and systems which have never been seen before, are emerging. It was notable that PacPrint featured a number of new digital technologies that were making their debut, and not just in Australia but worldwide. That’s why people go to such shows – to see what’s coming up.

    Joe Foster of Foster Packaging does short run and mockups on Indigos.

    When it comes to packaging print though, it’s the total opposite. Nearly all the print on show at Auspack – and there was a lot of eye-catching examples on all types of boxes, bottles and bags – was produced using conventional methods (I’m loath to say ‘analogue’, a term which is used erroneously as a catch-all for anything ‘non-digital’) – flexo, gravure and offset. By and large, digital print in the packaging sector means marking and bar-coding, typically in just one colour – black.

    Even so, the small amount of digital print – in the sense that most printers understand it – that was on show at Auspack was among the most interesting. For instance there was Foster Packaging specialising in packaging mock-ups and short runs using an HP Indigo press. Managing director Joe Foster is clearly something of an innovator when it comes to pushing the limits of what is possible with digital packaging. He claimed that the only substrate he’s not be able to put through an Indigo is nylon – and there are ways around that hurdle too. The samples he showed at Auspack looked first-class but he was a lone trail-blazer.

    Elsewhere, the likes of Label Power and Label Print Systems were demonstrating the latest Memjet-powered digital printers from ColorDyne Technologies. On the Label Print Systems stand, the narrow web ColorDyne Technologies CDT-1600C was printing full colour self-adhesive labels measuring 275 x 98mm at a rate of about 1 per second. The quality is certainly good enough and the cost per label is about 20 cents each. A run of 500 labels then is going to take about 10 minutes to print and cost about $100 in consumables. The A4 sheetfed version, the CDT-1600S, was equally as impressive and offers a wider variety of applications beyond labels and tags.

    Blink and you’ll miss it: The Colordyne printers on display at Auspack and PacPrint highlighted the cross-over potential of high speed digital inkjet production.

    Such production numbers are not likely to concern serious label-makers but they might interest their customers, particularly if they only require short production runs and don’t want the hassle of keeping large quantities of labels in stock. This is a shift that happened in other print markets years ago as end users discovered they could produce their own in-house colour much more easily and cheaply themselves, thank-you very much. Printers were forced to respond as whole markets disappeared before their eyes; either they got on the digital bandwagon or they went looking for other things to print.

    Judging by the vast array of gravure/flexo/offset packaging on display at Auspack, that transformation hasn’t happened to any large extent in the packaging market. Maybe it won’t, but the technology is there, at the right quality and the right price, for it to take place.

    The Chinese gorilla

    There was another noticeable difference between the two exhibitions: China. Not so long ago, it seemed as if every piece of major equipment shown at PacPrint came with its own Chinese clone, typically available for a fraction of the price. This year I saw hardly any Chinese-made equipment compared to previous shows. In fact, remarkably, I probably looked at more UK-manufactured equipment this year from the likes of Morgana, ABG and Autobox than I did equipment from China. Who would have predicted that 10-15 years ago?

    There are a number of theories as to why this should be so. China Print, held a couple of weeks before PacPrint, is now a major drawcard for the region, pulling in over 180,00 visitors over five days (compared to 314,000 over the two weeks of drupa) so perhaps that distracted attention away from the Australian market. It may also reflect the changing technology focus at PacPrint. The fact that there is now such an emphasis on digital print and processes excludes the Chinese equipment manufacturers as a matter of course.

    In contrast, the Auspack show had about 50 companies based in China and Taiwan exhibiting directly at the show, and that’s not counting those companies with local representatives or local companies with off-shore manufacturing. China now produces nearly 40 per cent of all the packaging machinery manufactured worldwide, quadrupling its output since 2006 to over US$18 billion. The next largest manufacturer of packaging machinery is Germany at US$7.5 billion.

    Most of this Chinese machinery is to meet booming domestic demand but clearly there is an export market too, as shown by the number of exhibitors of both machinery and packaging services at Auspack. Some of the Chinese-manufactured pack samples on display were undoubtedly of a very good quality, as can be seen any day of the week on your local supermarket shelves. With quoted lead times of about 4-6 weeks and, presumably, extremely competitive pricing, Chinese-manufactured packaging (as well as from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand) is the 800 pound gorilla in this market.

    Packaging supply chains are complex beasts though in which price is just one element. There is reliability of service too, as well as quality control, regulatory compliance and product consistency. Sometimes, depending on the packaging, it is better for the packaging supplier to be close to the producer in order to reduce transportation costs. Chinese packaging companies are also competing in a fast-growing domestic market, one in which labour costs are likewise going up which puts pressure on pricing.

    It was interesting then to see the solitary Australian packaging printer exhibiting at Auspack, Van Dyke Press based in Sydney. Specialising in packaging products such as the peelable lids found on pots of noodles or dips as well as in mould labels for the likes of margarine pots and ice cream tubs, Van Dyke Press addresses a very specific market segment. It caters particularly to the local margarine and butter industry – FMCG items that cannot be easily imported. It’s a market which, unlike clothing or electrical goods, is not going to shift wholesale offshore and which requires a dedicated, responsive packaging supplier close at hand.

    Is it a niche? To the extent that it is a very targeted product range, then yes, of course. But it is still a very big niche; run lengths are into the millions and there is an ever-changing demand for new products.

    It just goes to show that, whatever may be happening elsewhere in the world, if you have the right product mix and stay close to your customers, there will always be a demand for locally-produced print and packaging. The message to printers that emerged was to go out and find that sweet spot, and then hang on to it for dear life.

    Simon Enticknap is the Editor of Print21.