PRIMEX Conference February 2009
The Print Media Executive Summit this year was held in Clearwater Beach, Florida. The IDEAlliance holds this annual conference to bring together printing executives to share the latest ideas on the future of production, multi-media distribution, workflow, content creation and much more. Mr. Roland Ortbach, Vice President of Corporate Accounts and Commercial Web Sales at manroland was featured speaker.
Executives from Quebecor World and Quad/Graphics, both manroland customers, were also featured speakers on the future of publishing, post-press and postal issues.
The agenda covered:
- Where does publishing go next?
- Mailing and Bindery
- Paper Industry Dynamics
- Carbon Offsets Market
- Environmental Sustainability
- Economic Forecast 2009
- Future of the Paper Industry
- Ink Markets
- Advanced Color Techniques
- Presses in a Changing Marketplace
Mr. Ortbach described the current situation in eight key printing markets and how print manufacturing firms could adapt. The packaging and magazine segments still showed some growth in sales even in the down economy. The newspaper business in the US has felt the impact of changing demand much more so than other areas of the world. However, trends started in the US will ultimately cause pressure in other developed countries.
The central theme of Mr. Ortbach’s discussion for printers was to take three tactical steps to respond to the market environment. The first step is to Get Through the immediate challenges of a lower demand and high cost competition by utilizing all the production tools in the print workflow. Next, the firm should Address Options by considering which print products are most profitable or which print technologies represent a competitive advantage for the print production area. Finally, the firm needs to Recommit its Energy toward those areas of core competence to build on the advantages that it has identified. Maintaining or increasing product diversity along the lines of core competency will help insulate the printer from some of the swings in market demand.
Several case studies were presented to illustrate these concepts. For example, a newspaper ran commercial and retail production during the day and its main newspaper production during the evenings. Another newspaper added a UV curing process to provide more vivid color at high run speeds for news and commercial production.
Specifically on presses the trend is starting for older gravure presses in retail and books to be replaced by wider web offset presses. Printers are demanding higher performance from presses in terms of speed and flexibility. One response to this has been hybrid newspaper presses combining heatset with coldset and UV options. Digital imaging has been introduced on web presses for versioning or variable advertising. In the last 10 years, printing speeds have increased by over 50% and web widths have increased by over 70%! This is an increase of over 150% in capacity. Waste has been reduced by over 60% and the new plate handling technologies have cut plate changing time by over 90%! Too few printers are using this new technology to its full capacity.
New formats have been introduced as well. For example, manroland now has the 32 page Euroman, the 24/32 page Rotoman S and the new 96 page Lithoman. Combined with existing formats, printers now have all the possible options to efficiently configure a print job to minimize paper waste and meet customer demands.
Finally, the role of the press manufacturer is changing. Printers need to dedicate resources to optimizing the production workflow and provide maximum value upstream in the print supplier chain. As a result, they now rely on the press manufacturer for operator training, digital workflow implementation, repair and maintenance service and even consumables. In the past, printers needed to spend months analyzing various combinations of press consumables to arrive at an optimal system. Some of the press companies have done extensive testing on these materials and can recommend that optimal system to match the needs of the printer. manroland introduced printcom materials before the Print 05 show. Printers have had great success through increased uptime on presses and more consistent performance job-to-job.
We now experience changes in the print value chain much quicker than in the past. All the elements are better connected than ever before which provides a faster response to changing needs from content consumer all the way to press provider. Relationships between manufacturer and printer are going beyond buyer and seller. Successful printers understand these dynamic relationships and will configure themselves to respond quickly to and event welcome the new future of print.