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Onyx opening ushers in new age for book publishing

Friday, 30 March 2012
By Print21

The official opening of McPherson Printing Group’s (MPG) Onyx digital book production line in Victoria has signalled the way forward for the publishing industry to compete in a changing market with diminishing volumes and dwindling margins.

MPG hosted an open house at its Maryborough-based printing facility on 29 March to show off its newest workhorse, an HP T400 high-volume digital inkjet press, which it hopes will help spearhead its transition and evolution within the rapidly changing book industry.

Along with a Müller Martini Acoro binder, HP Indigo 7500 digital press, and a Magnum Flexbook finishing unit, the T400 completes the MPG facility’s ‘Onyx’ book production line, which has been designed specifically to accommodate small to high-volume on-demand book publishing runs.

According to MPG chief, Alan Fahy, who presided over the facility’s opening, the Onyx production line will help enable MPG to evolve with the publishing industry, as it adapts to the impact of the digital e-book influx.

“Onyx represents another step in our transition within the book industry, and it is a changing industry,” said Fahy at the open house event.

The new facility also represents the first feather in the cap for OPUS Group following its merger with the ailing MPG, which separated from its parent company, McPherson’s Group, earlier this year. The combined entity is expected to publicly list on the ASX by mid-April.

“It’s fair to say that our industry needs to evolve and we’re leading that in many ways,” said OPUS Group’s chief, Cliff Brigstocke (pictured right), during the event.

Brigstocke said that, with the addition of MPG and its new Onyx production line, the company would able to be more competitive in the book publishing market.

“We’re well positioned to deliver a menu of choice and technology that separately we weren’t able to offer,” he said. “We believe this menu of choice will offer you the best price.”

Among the special guests present for the Onyx opening was HP’s head of global publishing strategies, Dr. Douglas Sexton (pictured left), who highlighted how the new installation would help the company evolve with the dramatically changing book publishing industry.

“Across the globe we’re seeing the same thing happen, the number of titles has doubled, but the print runs have decreased. This means publishers have to take advantage of new technology,” said Sexton during his presentation.

According to Sexton, with the introduction of HP high-volume inkjet web presses like the T400, the trend towards smaller, on-demand batches in the book-publishing world is becoming easier to attain.

“If you order too many [books], they will be destroyed, so publishers are transferring their supply chain operations to produce shorter runs with a faster turnaround. One can order smaller quantities, reduce inventory, reduce cost and waste,” said Sexton.

MPG and HP believe the Maryborough Onyx facility one of the most up-to-date and fastest inkjet installations in the world, and certainly in the southern hemisphere, with speeds up to 600 feet per minute (183m), and a self-applied bonding agent to accommodate untreated paper stock for inkjet printing without bleed.

“The Onyx system is the top of the line and likely the fastest print and finishing solution in the world,” said Sexton. “McPherson’s is now poised to help the book industry along its journey, and accelerate the transformation of the industry

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