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Process-free plates power Kodak growth

Friday, 31 March 2017
By Patrick Howard

Delivering a positive Kodak story: Anthony Harvey and John O'Grady, who came through Sydney this week.

Sonora technology now accounts for 20% of Kodak plate sales in developed markets driving overall growth for the recovering giant.

It’s been a long time between good news reports from Kodak, the iconic photo and graphic arts company, but according to John O’Grady, vice president, the business has turned the corner and is growing again. The affable Irishman came through Sydney this week to visit major customers as the local web market begins the process of amalgamating plants and closing down press lines.

His visit coincided with the release in Australia and New Zealand of Kodak’s new Sonora UV process free plate – the latest addition to the company’s process-free technology portfolio.

He brought a positive message about Kodak’s situation, and especially on the growth of its plate business, thanks to its Sonora process free plate technology. Since it’s release five years ago over 50 million metre2 of Sonora process free plates have gone into the market. Last year saw Kodak grow its plate business worldwide by one percent in an overall shrinking market.

“We had a good year in the developed markets, less so in the emerging ones, due to a number of different reasons. Apart from our success with Sonora we placed more CTP machines last year than the year before and I expect we’ll do even better this year,” he said.

It’s a nice change to hear Kodak been spoken of in such positive terms. It helps reinforce the message that the $1.5 billion company, while a lot smaller than the $8 billion+ corporation of yore, is still a powerful player in the graphic arts industry. O’Grady maintains that the company releases new product every quarter – 20 new products launched at last drupa, that it continues to invest heavily in R&D and is expanding in areas such as material technology where its IP tradition gives leverage.

“Kodak still has the spirit of innovation in material science and imaging. We acquired five companies in such areas as digital capture and touch screen displays to develop new products,” he said.

Apart from the Sonora processless–free plates, which are now in 3200 printing companies around the world, Kodak has a growing engagement with flexo imaging, opening a new plate factory this year in the USA. There are also new developments in inkjet with the UltraStream engaging with numerous OEM customers. This is the successor to the Prosper inkjet, which is being sold, with an “imminent announcement” expected, according to O’Grady. He maintains the Prosper technology requires more capital investment to take it to the next level. Kodak made a strategic decision not to allocate its finite resources there.

A new NexPress digital press with improved writing heads and a more flexible array of printing stations is also on the cards for a launch later this year. There are currently around nine NexPress machines in the local market.

Constant development work on the Prinergy workflow maintains its status as de-facto industry standard production software. The introduction of a cloud back-up system with Prinergy 9 will remove the necessity for printers to invest in their own hardware.

All in all, the message O’Grady delivers is of a business that has paid its dues and its debts and one that intends to be in the graphic arts and printing industries for a long time. He makes the point that a lot of the money Kodak got for its sale of IP and patents went to rehabilitate film factory sites it had closed throughout the world. “We are an ethical company that takes its responsibilities seriously,” he said.

Locally, Anthony Harvey, ANZ country leader, is overseeing a growing company with 46 staff in Australia and New Zealand, which includes a service team of 15 engineers plus plate and workflow specialists. He nominates such high-profile printing customers as Coaster Kings, Limehouse and Impress Printers, which have all put in Kodak Achieve Platesetters.

“These companies wanted to improve the productivity, quality and speed of their prepress operations. The prepress operation for printers is a critical area that can have a significant impact on the entire printing process. Accurate, high-quality artwork together with error-free timely production is a must-have to satisfy customers,” said Harvey.

“When you combine these benefits with Kodak’s Sonora process free plates you can deliver great results for customers and real bottom line returns for your business and the environment.”

 

 

6 Responses to “Process-free plates power Kodak growth”

  1. March 31, 2017 at 1:17 pm,

    said:

    What a shame they never made it over to Digitalpress (“Major Customer” Nexpress)

  2. March 31, 2017 at 2:42 pm,

    Comrade Dave
    said:

    yes bad move, not sure what it is with big business but they seem to forget what keeps them in business. ,,,,,,,,its the customers guys!!
    No Customers – No Business.

    You may get some free tickets now……..or free clicks.

  3. April 02, 2017 at 11:34 pm,

    Fred
    said:

    Isn’t it a shame Theo that Kodak still has no clue how to look after it’s Nexpress customers. They still try to sign up a company to sell the machine for them, but unfortunately have failed with this model in the past.
    They won’t retain the few customers they have, if they don’t start pushing this product hard now. The current model and what is coming from Kodak is really good and they could challenge the other players!

  4. April 03, 2017 at 8:18 am,

    Banksy
    said:

    Wouldn’t trust them with your business – they left us high and dry by cancelling the consumable we bought from them with no notice in an attempt to force a sale/upgrade.

    They’ll do it to you too. See how they’re planning all these sales of various bits and pieces? What happens to you when they flog off the expensive system you just bought to some loser company with no interest/capability in R&D or local servicing?

  5. April 03, 2017 at 10:56 pm,

    Fred
    said:

    My initial comment must have been too harsh for Print 21, as I have criticized one of their advertisers. Get real guys, we are the ones reading your magazines and help you getting top $$$ for your ads!
    Kodak is losing the plot even more and don’t care about one of the best digital print engines ever made. I feel for you Theo!

  6. April 04, 2017 at 2:45 pm,

    Fairgo
    said:

    Hey Fred, my experience is that this site only blocks comments if they are defamatory, threatening or uses words like f**k or a*****e. I’ve sent a couple in like that in the heat of the moment and once I’ve calmed down I can see why they wouldn’t upload them. I don’t think they would stop an accurate, factual post whoever it was about. We all need to be a bit nice to each other sometimes. Just sometimes!

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