Business cards are dead…………not

10 11 2015

SONY DSCAt times over the past few weeks I have had friends and customers tell me that “business cards are dead”. I had to smile since I was holding their very own business cards in my hand at the time.

I guess, due to being a seller of print, I have a very strong and biased opinion on the place and future of the humble business card…..i.e they are not dead. Let me explain why.

Many people use the rise of digital networking as the reason for the death of business cards. It’s true, that LinkedIn and other social/Business media can give you deeper insights into a person than the humble business card. But I’m sure that its also true that before someone checks out your Linked in profile – they are prompted by a business card they found in their pocket or purse.

I can’t imagine telling someone to “check me out on Linked In” without first giving them my card………I would be worried that they forgot my name for a start. Business cards are still an easy and quick way of handing someone all your contact info. I think that interested people are more likely to check you (or your organisation) out on digital platforms if they have your card for reference in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong – Linked in is an awesome research tool. However, I have found that Linkedin can sometimes be well out of date and people are often not shy of embellishing their roles or history. I guess, in that respect, that LinkedIn has become pretty much the mobile CV of today. I have seen a few embellished CV’s.

Well there is my opinion – I’m sure it will get some responses. So lets get down to some interesting facts.about the humble business card.

 A Rich and Lengthy History

Business cards have been around since the 1400’s (originating in Asia). They became a standard item as “visiting cards” by the European nobility in the 16/1700’s – typically one would have their coat of arms along with their title embellished on one’s card. One’s footman would present the card to the servants of the person you were visiting who would in turn present it to their mistress or master.Mid to Late 1800's

By the 1800’s visiting cards morphed into calling cards and were being used by the upper and middle classes and mostly just had the persons name on the card. There was quite a bit of etiquette around the use of cards. For instance if the person was not at home they would fold the corner of the card indicating that they had called in person.Aquaintance Card

Slowly, during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, cards had begun to be used for a wider variety of purposes other than visiting. This was primarily due to the invention of lithography which allowed more affordable printing with a variety of colours. Merchants began to use cards to provide directions to their establishments in busy city side streets and provide product information (marketing). Cards were even used for courting!!

By the early 20th century cards were used for a great variety of business and social purposes.

Einsteins Business Card

Today cards are taken less seriously in the western world – but there is still a lot of etiquette and protocol followed in Asia. You can run the risk of appearing rude, ignorant or even offensive if your card has a poor design and is not presented correctly ……….and you must handle others cards correctly to avoid upsetting them.

What Makes A Good Business Card

In summary – here are some tips to make sure you have a great business card that you will be proud of, will make the right impression and that others are tempted to keep instead of chuck in the recycling bin.

  • Hire a designer  we are spoiled for choice for designers in the deep South. A good designer will draw out what you want to project (even if you don’t know what that is yet ) and present that in a way your target market will respond positively to……..and……….. your cards will just look cool.
  • Use heavy weight card –  I did a stint working for a print firm in the UK in the 90’s. The first thing I noticed was that the standard weight business card in the UK was 350gsm…….at that time the standard weight card in NZ was 250gsm. When I enquired as to why they used such heavy card, I was told that 250gsm was considered cheap and flimsy. There is a definite perception of quality in heavy weight card.
  • Use an embellishment or three – before batch printing was available, embellishments such as lamination, raised gloss varnish (Spot UV) or die cut shapes were hugely expensive. Now your designer can incorporate all of these features into your cards at comparatively small premiums. Try a different shaped card or jazz it up with some texture and contrast. Make it stand out and invite comment.
  • Make sure your card is fit for purpose – your designer will go through this with you. Is you card primarily a networking tool for handing out at meetings? Is it strictly an information giver? Is it part of a sales kit or is it more like an original calling card? Does it need to blend in with other materials or stand out against them?
  • Consider Ordering Online – there are some awesome tools available for driving the cost of business cards down  – particularly for large organisations and franchise operations. Once your designer has come up with an awesome design, a template can be made so that on-line ordering is achievable. This takes out administration and set up costs, reduces delivery times and the frustration often associated with ordering business cards. I recently saved a corporate customer $10,000 per year on business cards …………and the cards arrive quicker and are on heavier stock…..no brainer really.

So let me know if you want some really cool business cards, want to look at reducing your costs ….or would just like to talk to a good designer.

The humble business card may be used less nowadays – but it still has a place in business promotion and networking.





Mixed Bag For Otago /Southland Printing

3 09 2013

SONY DSCWell here we are at the end of what has seemed a very long winter. I for one am looking forward to shedding a few kilos of winter insulation, dusting off the bike, pumping up the tyres and getting fit for summer.

Of great interest is our long overdue consolidation of the two Dunedin sites. This was announced in June along with the plan to convert to a digital production platform. Although the new digital platform is a point of excitement and opportunity for the Southern region it has some casualties in the form of job losses. No doubt many Southerners will have read articles in the local paper that include Wickliffe amongst the handful of large layoffs Dunedin has experienced this year.

The news is not all bad for the region though. There is an undercurrent of positive business activity in Otago /Southland and many businesses are eying growth in 2014. Although most businesses have to keep an extremely close eye on the purse-strings there are signs of investment and risk taking. You only need to attend the local Chamber of Commerce networking meetings to feel the vibrancy and hear the positive chat from local business people.

Wickliffe Invests in Otago/Southland Future

Upgraded and Expanded Kaikorai Valley Office & Plant

RenovateWe are finally merging the two Dunedin sites into a combined unit. The Fairfield site (old Taieri Print operation) will be vacated while the Kaikorai Valley site (Glenelg Street) is being renovated and refitted.

Up until now we had only leased around 60% of the Kaikorai valley site, however, from the end of October we will take over the lease for the entire building. The extended building lease will accommodate the machinery and staff coming across from Fairfield. The refitting and renovation of the entire site is being undertaken whilst we continue to operate – so if its noisy when you call us over the next couple of months, or our team sounds a little frazzled, just picture them sitting in the corner while the carpet layer, builder or painters work around them.

A plug for our landlord and his very flexible team should go in here. If you need a quality site in Dunedin you should definitely talk to Chris at ADL Properties. Their team is doing a marvellous job in working closely with our team so that we can continue to operate at the same time as the building is spruced up.

Dunedin becomes Digital Hub with iGen 4 and more………..

We are very proud to announce the installation of the iGen 4 Digital Printing press in Dunedin. While you read this we are marking out the position where this large press will be placed in our Kakorai Valley site. This is no glorified copy machine. It is worthy of being called a printing press and can match offset press quality. It’s large sheet size of almost A2 means that landscape A4 and 3 panel A4 jobs can now be produced locally. We already have some customers who are interested in producing smaller runs of high quality publications to fit in with their reduced marketing budgets. This machine will change many people’s perceptions around the quality of digital print.

We will be retaining our existing digital presses and adding some redundancy to ensure that we can handle the South Island digital requirements. This positions Dunedin as the “digital hub” for Wickliffe in the South Island.

What will happen to Offset Production ??

Many of our customers have been asking if we will be able to continue to provide larger offset runs. Although we will retain a small offset facility in Dunedin – we will produce all larger runs in our Christchurch branch. Christchurch has very flexible offset capability with new A3, A2 and A1 Machines being installed after the earthquake and more recently, new folding, collating and binding equipment. Wickliffe Christchurch will take on the role of the “offset hub” for the South Island as we focus on digital in the deep south.

Extremely large offset jobs will continue to be manufactured in our Auckland A1 10 colour platform.

iGen 4 Press - coming to Dunedin this year

It’s all in the Finish

Traditionally, Dunedin offset printers have used print finishers in Christchurch to complete large runs of bookbinding, foiling, or other types of finishing work. This has always made a lot of sense as the capital cost of large-run finishing equipment was difficult to justify in the Southern market.

The result has been the shipping up of pallets of printed sheets to Christchurch trade finishers, the subsequent completion of any jobs in Christchurch and then return shipping the finished good back to Dunedin.

We see an opportunity for us to work smarter by increasing our ability to finish work in Dunedin. With investment in new finishing equipment for our Dunedin plant we aim to print large jobs in Christchurch and ship down to Dunedin for finishing.

This has many benefits: Not only reducing the carbon footprint around large jobs (only one freight trip) but also adding more capability to the local print market by proving a trade finisher in town.

We intend to bring more options to Otago and Southland customers regardless of the print run size.

Finally a Rebrand

With the rapid expansion of the Kalamazoo group over the past two years our branding has become a little confusing. I guess anyone can take a look at the plethora of logos on the back of my business cards to understand this statement. We were very proud of the acquisitions at the time – but now it’s time to bring them all together..

I can recount some very pointed (and often hilarious) comments from some of our customers in the design, marketing and agency sector. The good news is that we have been working on a new brand and we have chosen to consolidate under the “Wickliffe” Banner.

So no more Wyatt & Wilson / Taieri Print / Keeling and Mundy/ Astra Print / Kalamazoo / Print Counsel / Print Shop / Publishing Press and so on. We will all be Wickliffe with branches in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington , Palmerston North and Auckland.

So look out for the release of our new branding & logo. We will take you through our thinking around the new logo and will be keen to receive your feedback once it is released.

Once again – please do not hesitate to throw some questions my way via the blog – or just go old school and ring me.

I look forward to catching up with you all as we head toward summer.





Summer Sun

12 11 2012

Well we are over the long winter (here’s hoping) and its only a few weeks before its summer again. Although there are times in the Deep South that are still reminding us of winter.

It’s officially summer next month and, as I am writing this blog, there are hail stones battering against the window. Good old Dunners.

I thought, with all the extra outdoor activities beckoning and people starting to move around a lot more, it would be a great time to talk about logistics. Getting things from A to B.

In many cases timely delivery of printed material is just as important – or even more important – than the printing of the job itself. The impact of the digital media age has meant that print material is needed in extra short time frames (when compared to expectations of just a few years ago).
Printing has always been subject to deadlines, whether it be a marketing campaign release date or an end-of-month billing run – however the lead times we were given when I started in the industry (during the 1980’s) are nothing like what are given today.

Way back in the days of fixed close and ship schedules, printers were able to maximise profits by scheduling jobs, with similar specifications, to be run concurrently. This meant less press changes, paper changes and finishing machine change-overs for the manufacturer. This was great for the manufacturer’s productivity and profits, however, customers often needed to ensure many weeks “lead time” were given to the printers. Of course you could always pay a premium for a fast delivery – did I hear someone laugh.

As technology improved the speed of machine make ready and the level of production capacity has increased exponentially – the customer can now expect to receive their job whenever they need it (hence the all-encompassing term “print on demand”).

The challenge for the print industry has been, therefore, to respond positively to the need for “print on demand”.
In the late 90’s and early noughties Wickliffe’s response to this challenge was to increase capacity and capability in production. Wickliffe increased press power by purchasing new and varied printing presses which allowed us to reduce lead times and print jobs faster.

Secondly, Wickliffe got directly involved with the post production or delivery stage of the supply chain. Wickliffe invested in warehousing and logistics services to deliver printing faster and also handle speedy distributions and deliveries to multiple sites.

The need to offer logistics solutions led to  Wickliffe purchasing Stocklink, a specialist 3rd party logistics operation in 2002. Many corporates and Government agencies found that the ability to combine print and logistics components, especially in major projects, provided huge cost savings. Good (current) examples of this are the NZ Census, local body and general elections.

Wickliffe also developed an on-line ordering tool (ECOS) that provides real-time access to printed stock, apparel and anything else our customers wanted to store and distribute from Stocklink.
Stocklink has continued to develop our 3rd party logistics offering and is now one of the fastest growing and most profitable divisions of the group. Some of the logistics and supply chain services are as follows.

  • Distribution project management
  • Multi site national storage
  • Pick, Pack and distribute
  • Web-based ordering portals (set up and management)
  • Loyalty scheme set up and management
  • Re-branding projects/ product launches
  • Trade Shows
  • Hard copy Records Storage

Interestingly, much of Stocklink’s growth is coming from non print areas such as apparel/ fashion, retail goods, wholesale goods, records management, electronic parts etc.

Today, these logistics tools and services are available to any customer, providing next day delivery into any region in New Zealand.
If you are looking for storage of products, some smart solutions for distributing your product, or just need to consolidate your supply chain – let me know and we an discuss how Stocklink can make your life easier.

We are excited to welcome Print Counsel as the latest member of the Kalamazoo group .
Print Counsel is an Auckland based print firm specialising in specialty and niche printing products. This brings some interesting new abilities into the group: primarily through the abilities of the Print Counsel’s KBA Genius 52UV printing press.

This is a unique piece of kit that uses a waterless offset process to print on thick and non absorbent stocks. It is also extremely quick to set up and has a very low levels of waste. It can take only 10 sheets to get to the sellable product – saving waste and time cost.

So the Genius is ideal for printing small to medium run packaging in boards or plastics up to 0.8mm thick. Other prime uses are plastic type cards, menus, labels and pot plant tags, shelf wobblers and so on.

The Genius allows us to offer offset quality to pieces that were considered only viable for screen printing in the past. We have some neat sample that we can share showing plastic, 3D and lenticular (image moves when you move the piece) – so ask your account manager to show off what this amazing machine could provide for that “special” printing piece you have been looking for.

For all of you who enjoy the technical details – check out the following video to see what this amazing machine can do.

Well here’s hoping you all enjoy getting into the good weather and I hope to catch up prior to Xmas.

Meanwhile – if you have any questions or comments – please feel free to contact me or leave a comment on the blog.





Autumnal Update

15 05 2012

It has been a very busy time for the Kalamazoo Group so far this year. As predicted, the print industry continues to change at a fast pace in NZ and the KZ Group is leading the charge locally. We have a few of the team at the Drupa Print trade show as I sit and write this blog – hopefully they will bring back lots of goodies for me to share with you in the next blog.

For Christchurch customers I will be splitting the my time between the Dunedin and Christchurch offices during winter, so let me know if you would like to catch up for hot coffee at any stage.

Meanwhile, this blog will serve as a quick group update for all those interested.

Otago News

The merger of Wickliffe Solutions and Taieri Print in Dunedin is going well. As with all big moves, there is always some project task that ends up much more expensive than first anticipated. In our case we have had some “extra” costs for machinery moving and on-site power supply – so we will continue to operate out of two sites for the short to medium future. Production will be based in the Fairfield site while the Sales Team , Call Centre, e-Commerce team, Supply Chain heads and admin will remain at the Kaikorai Valley site at 11 Glenelg Street. The Mosgiel Warehouse remains at Factory Road.

I have received many questions from customers asking about how many staff and what equipment we will be retaining. We will be retaining all equipment that is not duplicated. Unfortunately this means that we have lost some staff as a result of quitting some equipment (and other efficiencies achieved due to the merger). This is a difficult time and we appreciate the concern and patience shown by our team and  customers. I am committed to growing our Otago business and, with local support and investment in technology , I am sure we can do this in a very short time frame.

Meanwhile, if you need fast turnaround commercial colour print , digital print, wiro-binding, flow-wrapping or distribution and storage solutions  – give you sales rep (or myself) a call.

New Team Members

In early May – we acquired Keeling and Mundy Print (K&M) in  Palmerston North. This gives the group a strong presence in central North Island and adds further commercial offset colour and finishing capability to our total offering. K& M have been particularly strong in quality A2 Colour Printing and finishing. The KZ group now has the most wide-spread footprint in NZ giving us the ability to print and supply locally wherever our customers have branches or sites based.

Zoomit……………Web-Fed Inkjets

We have named our new division (that started with the acquisition of two Fuji Xerox CF2800 Inkjet web presses and Hunkeler finishing units) Zoomit. This new division is offering cutting edge technology for the print industry and represents the next phase in the evolution of digital print. It is amazing to think that these machines can run at 200m/minute printing both sides simultaneously with variable data. Keep a look out for more details in our press release later this month.

Both inkjet presses have completed the installation and testing processes and are now up and running in our Mt Wellington, Auckland plant. Andrew Healy, who heads up this new division, will be collating samples and videos highlighting all the benefits of Zoomit, his new team and equipment. This is very exciting stuff and is a first for New Zealand. We will be in touch in the near future to talk about how your business can benefit from Andrew and his team’s new technology and solutions.

As a teaser – take a look at the video above. There is sure to be a valuable application for this within your organisation – call your rep or myself and we will be happy to discuss this with you…………or if you are visiting Auckland on business you ar most welcome to call into the plant and take a look at these machines in operation.

Flat Bed Wide Format

We have installed a wide format/ flat-bed printer in the North Island. This is particularly useful for large posters, billboards etc and can be used on a variety of substrates such as corflute, rigid signage and much more. I will gather some info on the capabilities of the new machine and share in the near future. In the meantime – if you have any requirements for large format printing let us know what your needs are and we will supply a cost-effective solution.

Skinart Tattoos

For your next marketing campaign or public event consider getting a tattoo !! Seriously – our Christchurch branch can produce temporary tattoos that are safe, effective and limited only by your imagination. These are produced with a special process right here on the mainland – so we can guarantee the safety of all materials and process of manufacturing. Skinart has proven extremely popular with kids and families in public, sporting and fund-raising events. For more information check out this site http://www.skinart.co.nz/index.html , give me a call or contact your rep. We have samples of the jobs we have produced over the past few years if you want to some ideas or inspiration

On The Cards……….

The group is looking at some new investments later on this year, in particular we are investigating heat-set offset print (think magazines and large run publications) and beefing up our mailing, inserting packaging and distribution capabilities………..watch this space.  The variable, short run packaging market has been tagged as a growth area here in NZ and overseas –  and will fit nicely with the personalised capabilities that we have been building on with our digital platform of laser and inkjet presses.

Well that’s all the news in brief, I’m sure that there will be even more to share over winter. Meanwhile, please call me if you want to discuss any of the information in this blog or would like samples of any of the new products and services.





Printed Magazines and Newspapers – Will there be a demand tomorrow?

6 03 2012

Someone asked me the other day if I thought newspapers and magazines would be around for much longer. As a printer I hope they will be ……….as a technology and gadget lover, I doubt it.

Large run daily newspapers and weekly magazines look set to come under threat as the next generation of readers matures. The main threat is the “touch revolution”. Readers such as Amazon’s “kindle” and the growing range of tablets that are available are already touting mobile versions of newspapers, magazines and comics. The increased connectivity that these devices offer and the variety of reader personalisation, is seen by some, to herald the end of the newspaper as we know it.

Like many of us, I do enjoy sitting down to read the newspaper. However, if I’m honest, it’s really only on the weekend that I have time to sit back, relax and actually read my way through a whole newspaper. Mostly, I quickly flick through a paper, scanning the headlines and looking for anything of interest. Wouldn’t it be great if I could get a “newspaper”, or magazine, delivered that only had articles and news on the subjects that I was interested in? Without all the extra pages of things that I am not interested in (and would probably never read). There are three quite different ways that this is achievable (and happening as you read this blog).

  1. Digitally Printed  Magazines & Newspapers – with inkjet digital printers and advanced web to print solutions now entering the market, it will become economic to print newspapers and magazines on demand. This means that “subscribers” will be able to choose topics, articles, products and events that they want to make up their magazine (from a list provided by the publisher). These newspapers and magazines can be printed on a digital press and each copy will be printed to the subscriber’s preferences – it is likely that each copy will have the subscriber’s name printed throughout it (for easy postage on the front and personalised advertising). This will probably be good news for many publishers as advertising can be matched to the chosen, products, services and particular interests of the subscriber – and many of the magazines will contain fewer pages (none of the stuff you normally skip).
  2. Mobile Magazines and Papers – Many applications are springing up that allow you to choose format, pages, topics and subjects that your subscription magazine, paper, comic or periodical contains………..and have it delivered directly to your mobile device. You can even choose the frequency you receive the publications. Software enabling publishers to mobilise (and personalise) their products are springing up regularly: (see Flipboard, Pulse, Zite, Livestand).
  3. News, blogs or social aggregators – aggregators are software that search and organise content on the web. You can choose broad concepts such as “latest news” or define it to particular topics. Similar software is likely to be developed and used by publishers to personalise magazines and newspapers for the extra connectivity required today. In effect, you can create your own daily news updates or magazines.

All this new technology could be good news for the environment.The print industry has probably taken up the environmental challenge better than most industries. Most paper production is become sustainable and forestry is being managed by most of the world’s major governments. The dirty manufacturing processes of paper and ink is fast becoming a bad memory and printing may soon even be responsible for a growth in forestry around the globe. Even so, it remains a fact that 40% of printed office material is trashed the day it is printed………..and the use of paper (printed in the office) has double twice since the 1980’s. So the possibility of reducing paper usage in high volume pulp users (such as magazines and newspapers) will prove to be very popular.

Apart from tablets and smart-phones there is some other interesting mobile hardware in development. One of the most interesting of these is the flexible video screen. Sony has put some effort into this and has come up with a working model. Right now it is not mobile – but I guess that will be available within a few years. This provides the potential to give us a reusable newspaper – simply roll the paper out each day and upload the latest copy and pics directly onto it. The idea behind this is that you will be able to get the feel of holding a “newspaper”  but the content will change every day. Something directly out of Harry Potter – but it could be here in a few years!

I guess that one of the clearest, loudest messages for the publishing industry is the news that Time Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the United States, would be run by Laura Lang. Lang was the chief executive of the digital advertising agency Digitas…………obviously some execs have a fairly pointed idea of where things are heading. At the same time big name developers are releasing software that enables fast, easy publication(of existing publications) to the web (see Adobe Digital Publisher and Apple Newstand) –  it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where things are heading.

The bean counters amongst us (and the hardcopy diehards) will point to the news that the Australian print and publication industry reported a 3.5% growth last year. However, the largest growth was reported specifically in the packaging and digital print areas. Other interesting figures show US magazine circulation falling by 15% in the past two years (they stayed fairly static in the 18 years prior to that). In those same 18 years the number of US titles increased by 50% as publishers developed a successful strategy to keep numbers up. US newspaper ad revenues have also dropped 65% since 2002. Interestingly, on-line advertising has only made up for 10% of these lost ad revenues. So where have they all gone? Although reduced marketing budgets have probably been the main reason for reduced ad revenue, it is very interesting to note that mobile advertising has experienced exponential growth for the past three years straight.

So will magazines and newspapers be around tomorrow……….I think so – but – I think they will be a speciality/novelty item by the time my kids are my age.

As usual please let me know if you want any more information relating to anything in my blogs.

I also have some A2 calendars available free to good homes. They depict scenes of CHCH. Just let me know if you would like some and I will drop off for you.





Great News For The Otago Print Industry

21 02 2012

Well last week was awash with a buzz of excitement when the  announcement was made that Taieri Print was to join the Kalamazoo Group.

Taieri Print will join Wickliffe Solutions in the Kaikorai Valley site to form the largest and most capable printing outfit in the Otago/ Southland Region.

This is really exciting for me as, finally, we have a local med- large run colour offset capability in the group. Although Dunedin has always had access to other parts of the group for colour offset, having a local machine is sometimes more expedient and fits better with the local needs.

Taieri Print, on the other hand, will now be able to offer more complex solutions to their customers through the group’s digital, supply chain and technology divisions.

Anyway we look at it – the move is great news for the Otago Print industry. It keeps machines and jobs in the region and allows our sales team to provide a better offering to our Southern customers.

So – for Wickliffe Customers – what exactly will improve? For years Wickliffe has suffered from a lack of colour offset machinery in Dunedin. Taieri comes equipped with a 10 – colour press and complimentary finishing equipment.  This means that many of the medium to large brochure jobs we previously manufactured in other branches – can now be done right here in Dunedin. All of you who have needed a “next day” or urgent turnaround will know the frustration of having to wait for out-of-town deliveries. Taieri also brings across some neat flow-wrapping and spiral binding finishing gear. Most exciting of all though is the experienced staff and new potential that this will bring to the Dunedin manufacturing unit.

What’s in it for the Taieri customers?  Wickliffe’s Dunedin branch has focused more on digital print and supply chain over the past few years. This means that Taieri customers will be able to consider supply solutions for print (or non print) projects that require rapid, complex or national distribution. Taieri customers will also be introduced to print on demand, web to print and other web-based print solutions. There is also a peace of mind element for Taieri customers now, with back up for the 10-colour press available through the group’s presses in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. Very short-run print jobs will be available through the Wickliffe digital print fleet of 7 Fuji -Xerox machines in Kaikorai Valley.

Although it is very early days, we intend to move fast to get Taieri Print and Wickliffe under the same roof. Some details are still being worked through – but please call me or your account manager if you want to discuss how changes may affect your organisation.

New Equipment

It seems like good news is coming in pairs at the moment. Steve D’Souza announced , in conjunction with the Taieri Print merger, that we will be bringing in two new inkjet digital presses – the first of their kind in New Zealand. The two CF 2800 presses from Fuji Xerox are reel-fed inkjet presses. I won’t bore you all here with the technical specs – just that they are FAST.

The CF 2800 is aimed at the direct mail and trans-promo market. Let me translate “trans-promo”: think invoices, statements, reminder notices etc (transactional print),  with a promotional element on them – say a voucher or advertisement on the reverse. This is nothing particularly new, but with smart customer information, the CF 280o can make each promotional piece relevent to the recipient. Promotions can target the products and services you know the customer buys and uses, or alternatively, cross sell services they may not be aware that your offer.

2800 Continuous Feed Colour Inkjet Press

This continuous (reel) fed inkjet could also herald the end of base-stock requirements for many jobs. Typically, it is more economical to run off large volumes of coloured base-stock and over-print the transactional information, in black only, as required. The CF2800 is able to print both sides simultaneously with static and variable information. This moves the transactional print model closer to a single process, print on demand model.

Variable direct mail and trans-promo print are considered to be important emerging markets for New Zealand. Kalamazoo is in the process of recruiting specialists in both areas and we look forward to introducing them to you in the near future. Once the new team ( and  machines) are on deck, I will be in touch with how this technology may have possible application in your business. Meanwhile, please feel free to ask any questions.

These are exciting times. Please feel free to comment or sign up for auto updates on this blog.





Merry Christmas – New year Picks

20 12 2011

"Has anyone seen my glasses?"

Well with the Christmas break just around the corner – its time for a few predictions.

I will make like Nostradamus, polish the crystal ball and take a shot at what I think will happen in the print industry locally, nationally and further afield. Some are fairly obvious, some will be contentious – have a read and let me know what you think.

Pick Number One: Digital print will move into the rotary phase

Offset printing press technology cycled from sheet-fed print in the 1950’s to reel-fed (rotary) in the 1960’s and 7o’s ……….and then back to sheet fed in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

Now it’s digital print’s turn to move into the reel-fed /or rotary press phase. The big names are making huge strides in rotary press manufacture. HP. Xerox and Kodak have made some amazing leaps over the past few years and now some of these machines are really quick and impressive. Take a look at this press release from Kodak from last year – claiming to get publications printed quicker that offset up to 7000 units/books http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=E4KZ5xa1Hrs

The ushering in of the rotary digital cycle will also see inkjet technology begin to replace laser in sheet fed digital presses over the next few year .

This will probably see magazines, books and other publications revert back to the craft they were in the past. We will likely see huge value add and aesthetic input such as embossing, gilt edging, case binding along with variable print.  A real work of art: leaving the mass consumer publications to be handled by the new touch/digital revolution.

Pick Number Two: The “Touch Revolution” will continue to grow and develop – especially in Video

Smartphones are set to make up over 50% of all phones next year – and almost all of them will be touch phones. The competition for tablets is searing hot,  which will make next year ideal for buying that android or i-pad that you have your eye on. TV’s are already starting to communicate with the internet and your tablet is set to become your new “house” remote.

What has this to do with print ?? Well – magazines, newsletters, novels and periodicals are going to be more likely to be read  on a touch-screen than a hardcopy in the future……………and I reckon we will see the big shift to this accelerate next year.

Pick Number Three: Social Media and mobile will continue to eat into print’s share of the Marketing Spend

As social media channels increase in number and usage – Marketing managers are going to be looking at spending more of their budget on campaigns that involve more SM and other web components and less of their spend on print.

This is not a prediction of the end of print – just a metamorphosis into a different application and use of printed product. I do predict that printers are going to need to re-skill their sales teams to fit with new customer needs.

Pick Number Four: The Print Industry will merge locally and fragment nationally

It is likely that many smaller printers will feel the pinch even more as they struggle to adapt to the new market in 2012. One way of survival will be to team up with competitors to help reshape and adapt to new conditions. At a local level with small businesses – this is a good strategy. Especially for specialists or between printers who have complimentary capabilities.

On a national level though, I think the very large, generalist printers will very likely split. Considering, that our largest printers were created out of the consolidation of a bunch of small to medium printers, this is just coming full circle. 2012 will probably see the larger printers split into “autonomous  business units” or branches before splitting completely in 2013.

Pick Number Five : Print orders will increasingly be placed by a new breed of “broker”

As print continues to take a smaller part of the “marketing pie” people and organisations skilled in cross-channel marketing will  be tasked with placing print orders related to campaigns.

For larger organisations and corporates – this will probably remain the responsibility of in-house, marketing or procurement staff. However, small to medium organisation will very likely outsource the print buying. Unless print shops up-skill, train or recruit knowledge around new channels – we will see a return of the print broker /buyer in the NZ market. Transactional could also default to the print buyer along with the marketing collateral.

Pick Number Six : End to end Process Automation will become an essential part of print

This goes hand in hand with the touch and mobile revolution. The ability to get instant quotes and job placement will become a standard for customers in the near future (automated input process). The production process continues to get more automated year by year and despatch delivery and billing processes are already automated to a high level.

This will serve to reduce lead times down to an ever nearer “next day delivery” as standard.

These are my predictions – and it will be interesting to see how many prove accurate at the end of 2012. As usual, feel free to make a comment or contact me to discuss anything mentioned in any of my posts.

Meanwhile, I sincerely hope that you all have a wonderful festive season and manage to take some time out to relax with friends and loved ones.

I’ll start blogging again in mid January, until then…………………….MERRY XMAS.





3D Printing – Beam me up Scotty

6 12 2011

I had a few comments that my last blog was a wee bit on the heavy side. So I thought I would lighten things up a bit before Christmas.

On hearing that the latest Mars rover “curiosity” had started its 8 month journey to the red planet, I got to thinking that we haven’t really come a long way, in space exploration, since I was a kid. I remember sitting, glued to the TV in total fascination as Neil Armstrong did his famous moon-walk.

Not long before the moon landing, my family bought a colour TV. The salesman proudly told us that it was the 9th colour TV in Aberdeen (my great grand-mother moved in with us – she bought the TV to keep herself occupied). It was such a novelty that we would have the whole neighbourhood crammed into our lounge on a Thursday night to watch High Chapparal and Star Trek. Since then I have often thought how great it would be to have a replicator machine (as seen in the canteen on board Star Trek) to dish up any meal (or drink) on demand. I never really thought that we would see anything like it in my day………but maybe we will.

The visual communications industries, including print, have definitely not slouched in progress. Certainly TV’s have come a long way from the majestic 25″ model that graced my family lounge in the late 1960’s.  That TV was valve driven and housed in a cabinet bigger than the desk I’m sitting at writing this blog. It was installed by piano movers. Today a 50″ LED screen can be moved by one person (if they had arms long enough). I seem to remember the crew on the bridge of Star Trek all staring at a large flat screen………probably around 100″ – no longer science fiction.

Other devices on Star Trek seem to have entered into our daily lives too.

Scotty "I'm not sure what happened last night - but get me out of here"

Jim’s “communicator” is suspiciously similar to a flip top mobile phone. In fact the communicator seems positively clunky and crude compared to the latest phones……………….and no one can deny that all the captains, Jim, Jean Luc, Janeway – all read their favourite novels and reports on i-pads (or was it an android device).

Other things like automatic sliding doors seemed to have crept into daily life very quietly. I wondered in fascination , as a child, at how the doors on the Enterprise seemed to know Spock and the crew were coming………..now, if a glass door doesn’t open on its own accord for me, it takes me a few seconds to figure out how to open the bloody thing…………..either that or I walk into it.

Well the print industry has definitely kept up with the space age. We can now, through digital print, print every copy with unique elements of images and text. We can print one-off books and posters in full colour. The famous Star Trek replicator may, in reality, be a new 3D printing press.

3D printing or “rapid prototyping” came out a few years ago and, at that time, I saw a device that used a type of melted plastic, extruded into rough shapes and cleaned up with lasers. I thought then that it could be the beginning of a “replicator” and my comment was “It will be at least a decade before it can produce  something intricate and another decade before they can do it with some sort of solid material.” In other words I thought it was just a neat tool used for creating plastic prototypes.

Take a look at this article

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQHnMj6dxj4&feature=youtu.be

It depicts 3D printing in action. There are a now a few manufacturers of 3D printing or fabrication machines. Trek bicycles (I want one) use a 3D press to manufacture new parts for research and development. They can “print” all the parts a new bike and put it together for fit and feel in a matter of weeks – where they took months, or even years, to completely revise designs in the past.

The health sector has really taken hold of this technology using it to produce precise orthotics for shoe inserts, dental implant and prosthetics. Mindblowingly, they are starting to explore the possibility of printing human organs, layering cells upon cells to build up (or grow) a completely compatible organ for transplants http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/09/3d-printing-blood-vessels/42608/

"McCoy - I want one of those i-Pad 6's for Xmas"

Short term, 3D printing will prove to be very beneficial for designers (of just about everything) and may kick off a mini revolution in small industry. This is because 3D printing uses “additive manufacturing”.

Traditionally we have employed a wasteful method of subtractive manufacturing. Say we want to build a car –  we basically manufacture each part out of a block of steel and shave off bits (or subtract) until we have the correct shape. The 3D method builds up (or adds) each part, layer on layer without wasting the raw material. Obviously as resources grow more scarce in the future – additive manufacture methods will be more favourable.

This could lead to the ultimate in print on demand……….my Star Trek replicator. Heading up to Xmas it would be really handy to print up a turkey, ham and maybe a bottle of Speyside single malt.

Feel free to make comments or contact me if you want to discuss any topic or visit any of our plants.

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DAM – What does it mean and do I need it?

29 11 2011

Digital PeasDigital Asset Management (DAM) never really took off in NZ. Part of the problem is that it’s one of those terms that seems to mean different things to different people. It seemed to segment itself before it really got started .

To most, DAM simply means, an on-line website or library to store all of your digital assets (images, document files etc). However, my mates in print production would refer to DAM as a  process (including software) that manages the ” digital asset” from creation to proof to press and then into storage. Our designers and agencies have even more definitions to share with us.

Around 10 years ago many DAM solutions sprang up due to the need for customers to manage their ever-growing digital assets. Many of these software solutions allowed the customers to manage files on their own servers. This started a shift from all assets being stored and owned by agencies to in-house file management and hosted storage. This was a (potentially huge) revenue loss for agencies who responded by developing even more sophisticated DAM systems. Tools that could provide collaborative on-line file editing and proofing, video and audio file storage and file format conversion. At the same time Google, Microsoft, Xerox and other giants have been developing document storage solutions that act as a DAM tool.

There is no doubt that ” digital asset” storage and administration has fast become a must for most businesses. Almost everything seems to a have a visual component now. With the rapid growth of social media through smart-phones and tablets (% of mobile phones in use that are smart-phones hit 20% last year. Australia is now at 37%) it seems that everything points to a website, You Tube video or just an image. This has led to a whole new need and term – re-purposing.

No longer are images required just for A4 printed pages and websites they are needed for smart-phone compatible websites, wide-screen displays, low resolution, high-definition displays, wide format banners and thumbnails. Images may need to be reformatted to suit the device they are being displayed on (or the purpose of the message). Some DAM software systems include conversion tools so that you can sent a provider the image in whatever format they require (Native, PDF, EPS, TIF, Gif etc). The alternative is to store different format versions on file – exponentially increasing the size of your asset list and the time required to admin.

DAM systems have generally proven to be difficult to use (if you don’t use them regularly), they are also fairly expensive. Many have a license fee for users and a monthly storage-space fee per Gig of data storage.

If this all sounds complicated – you can see why many customers still prefer their designers and agencies to manage their assets for them. So whats the point of DAM software if we can just leave it to the designers and agencies as we did in the past?

Well speed for a start – if you can handle the assets yourself you can save a lot of time and effort. From a printers perspective, we often get less time to print the job than it takes to get the finished file signed off (and into our eager hands). A customer may give us a heads-up on Tuesday that they are hoping to get us a file on Thursday and would like to take  delivery, of the finished product, on the following Monday. Most often, final sign off, proofs and delivery of the file to the printer  takes longer than expected and we get the file on Friday afternoon. So any tool that speeds up file delivery to us could, potentially, double our lead time.

Cost is also important in the current economic climate. Most designers and agencies need to charge fees of between $30-200 per file download depending on format, and amount of re-purposing required. This can add up to a lot of money over 12 months.

There is some good news though. There has been some development of open source DAM software recently. It will take a while to become really robust and bug free, but it will come; and will be particularly useful for smaller businesses when it does arrive. These open source software systems will also help drive down the cost of existing DAM solutions. The increasing acceptance of software and storage in the “cloud”  will also mean reduced bulk storage costs are just around the corner.

There is also a global move towards a standard file format. Adobe has always led the way with their PDF and JDF formats and I think it is logical to assume that we all move to complete file standardisation eventually.

Wickliffe has had fun over the past few years  developing a Digital Asset Management tool. Its called Digital Peas. We started off with a vision of developing a modular system that could be sold to customers in modules as best fitted their needs (including on-line proofing, advanced editing and complete agency style file converting )………then we ran out of money.

In a way, that was a good thing. Technology, the market and our customer’s needs have radically changed over the past two years. The Digital Peas that we have recently released is now a PDF based asset library. Best of all, it is free to customers who have awarded Wickliffe Solutions (or any other member of the Kalamazoo Group) preferred supplier status.

The main features of Digital Peas are

  • Simple hosted storage of assets in a library – keeping all your assets at your fingertips
  • Super easy Version Control and archiving administration
  • Category, attributes and tagging controls to easily find, track and group assets
  • Versatile user and asset permission controls to ensure strict control of asset sharing
  • Automatic Publication of images to our ECOS ordering site to link with print on demand ordering
  • A platform designed to easily adapt to the future

Who would benefit from using Digital Peas? Well the answer to that is easy; anyone who is asked to supply files to staff, suppliers or partners on a regular basis. Even small businesses would benefit from using Digital Peas for storing assets. You would be surprised how much time is wasted hunting for mis-filed files or arranging for someone to forward a particular file on.

If you want to have a look at our at our DEMO site (http://www.digitalpeas.co.nz/sign_up) – just send me your email address in the comments box and I will return the demo user id/email address & password.

Give me a call if you would like me to pop in and take you through Digital Peas in more detail. You are more than welcome to come into our office in Kaikorai Valley if you would like to see it on the big screen……….I’ll even make you a coffee and let you in on the secret of how we came up with the name.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to follow my blog to auto receive new posts.





Digital Printing: Order placed ……..Nek Minute…….Delivered

22 11 2011

Unlike 10 years ago, nowadays,  there is hardly a print shop that doesn’t have a digital printing device and offer “digital printing”. You probably have one or two digital printing devices at home – even the humble inkjet the kids use (that costs next to nothing to buy but a fortune to fill up) is a digital printing device.

I guess, as the digital print industry has now blossomed, the term “digital printing” is so broad that it is difficult for us to define precisely. By simplistic definition – digital print is any device that prints directly from the file without the need of any analogue transfer materials such film or plates. So this covers lasers, inkjets, liquid toner, die sublimation etc.

I thought the best way to handle digital print would be to answer a few common questions I have had recently

“In plain English – What is the real advantages and disadvantages of Digital”

The advantage = Low cost of set up, fast set up, fast turnaround, variable copy = Inexpensive short runs when compared to traditional offset printing.

Disadvantage = Slow machine speeds, higher per-piece rates = Expensive larger runs when compared to traditional offset printing.

In a nutshell if you want a short run, a fast turnaround or a variable copy (different text or images on every copy)  digital is the way to go. If you want pallet loads of same copy pieces – Offset is the way to go.

“Someone told me that digital printing is really just glorified colour copying”

Most light manufacturing digital machines are exactly that – and to be honest, they will do a great job on pieces that don’t need a high quality finish. Such as flyers and other jobs that have a short lifespan.

If you need a high quality finish (for company profiles, annual reports or images with skin tones etc.) you will need a provider with a Digital Press. These are around the same physical size as a traditional offset press and can produce results that are difficult to tell apart from a job produced on a high quality offset press. A good method of checking the quality of your printer’s digital machine is to ask for 4x test sheets. Each test sheet printed on  SRA3, 300gsm paper stock with one of the CMYK colours (as a solid colour) over the entire sheet. This will really test the press to the extreme. Lesser machines will produce distinct banding across the sheet. High quality digital presses will provide perfect solid colours or minimal banding.

“What is the cut off point between digital and offset – I seem to hear different stories from different printers”

That’s not really surprising – this is a moving target totally dependent on which digital and offset presses are being compared. It is also dependent on the specs of each job. However, as a rough guide, I would usually say to customers ask for a digital quote (as well as an offset quote)  for anything up to around 3000 pieces. To give you an idea of the pace of change – the crossover threshold I quoted around 8 years ago was a “few hundred” pieces.

The offset printing press manufacturers are busy making their “economic minimum run” smaller every year. They are focusing on technology innovations aimed at making their machines faster and cheaper to make ready. Meanwhile the digital  press manufacturers are focusing on making faster running machines so that they can compete on the larger print jobs. New models of digital presses are usually released by the major brands  every 12-24 months. Our state of the art fleet of Xerox C1000 presses, purchased only 12 months ago – will probably be superseded with more advanced models within the next 12 months.

“What do you reckon is the next big thing in digital print” 

Without a doubt inkjet.

Inkjet is already making huge advances in black and white. Most of our paperbacks and novels will be black and white printed on reelfed inkjets within a few years. When the colour inkjet speed, quality and running cost can be matched to offset we will see digital taking on the large run market. Already there has been amazing advances in the large format machines (poster, banner printing etc. )

The other big shift will likely be into value added features such as flexible toners and effects (such as Xerox’s “clear dry ink” clear overgloss effect). There has been talk for a while now about he ultimate in “hybrid” presses. These will , theoretically, have digital and offset components and be able to handle, small, variable and large runs. It hasn’t worked perfectly yet, but who knows what technology will bring us in the next few years.

“What should I look for when choosing a digital print provider?”

Flexibility is the key here.

If you can find a supplier that has a variety of machines – you will most likely get the best deal. There is no point printing a small quantity of low complexity flyers on a large digital press or attempting to print an annual report on a smaller , less capable machine. It can also be a good idea if you have  a supplier that can offer an offset option. This way you know that they aren’t pushing a solution as it’s the only capability they have.

Backing up is also important. I love digital print, but I have to admit that digital presses are ( like most electronic, computerized, devices ) more susceptible to service requirements than mechanical offset presses. How many times has your infrequently used photocopier, jammed when you need an urgent copy?? We get around this by preventative servicing and fitting out each of our branches with the same models (we have 4 x C1000 presses around the country). This gives us a high level of redundancy. We can flick files up to Christchurch or Wellington if our machine has a backlog of work or breaks down.

So digital print has brought us affordable colour, economic small runs and  much faster lead times. It is hard to believe that when I started out in print (in the 1980’s) standard commercial print lead times were around 2-3 weeks and forms and publication were around two months or more.

Drop me a line if you would like to visit our digital division in Dunedin or some more info about our digital capabilities.

Why not get your next project quoted to run digitally with variable text?  You could be surprised at how inexpensive your next marketing campaign could turn out to be.

C1000 Digital Press at Wickliffe Dunedin