Should we recycle our paper?

29 02 2016

PaulI can hardly believe that Xmas has come and gone and Summer is all but over.

Being in sales, and in particular the print industry, means that you come into contact with just about every sector of the market. The print industry may have shrunk – but it still touches every business that I know of in some respect.

Last year proved to be a very successful year for us. We managed to more than double the modest 2014 sales total and we are off to a cracking start for 2016. Mike and I are now the Dunedin Branch (as opposed to a franchise) and we are looking forward to a lot of positive changes during 2016.

Keeping it Green

green_bannerWe have noticed an increase in our customer requests for information about recycled paper. Most are surprised when we explain the answer to going green is not always as easy as just buying paper that is marketed as recycled.

Over the last decade obvious climate change and pollution levels have seen a growing awareness of our environment and the impact we have on it. My teenagers know a lot more about conservation than I did when I was 30.

Recycling paper became very popular in the 1980’s with the first recycled “fine papers” becoming readily available in the market around that time. These papers were used for letterheads, business cards and other office stationery. Prior to this recycling was mainly  used only for downgraded products e.g. fine paper would be recycled into kleen-saks, brown paper bags and packaging. New technology allowed fine papers to be recycled back into fine papers. Sometimes rags and cloth fibers would  be added to give a visually “recycled” look.

As a young sales rep in the 1980’s I thought that recycling would really take off. Especially with my “hippy” customers.

In those days I literally sold tons of “lineflo” for dot matrix printers (now almost made extinct by laser photocopiers). Many of my customers showed extreme interest in the slightly creamier recycled lineflo when it was first introduced……………that was until they saw the price of recycled products.

In the 198o’s and 90’s recycled paper was a flop due to the comparative high cost .

Fast forward to the last decade. Opinions in the  print and paper industry are divided as to whether recycling is actually good or bad for the environment. Even last year there was a fairly heated bit of banter in one of the leading printing industry magazines between the opposing factions.

Carbon Sequestrationers

In the blue corner we have those that believe that the best way of handling paper is simply to bury it.cellulose-aerogel-1

Simplistically, the contention is that it takes more energy and creates more pollution to recycle paper than it saves -when you take into consideration all of the energy required to de-ink, clean, pulp and then reform the paper (there is a substantial amount water, chemicals and energy in the way of heat, transport, power and by-products used to achieve this).

If we simply bury all waste paper this prevents it from being burnt and thus carbon entering the atmosphere. I guess it would eventually end up as coal and petrol after a few hundred millennium buried underground, although by that time we will probably not require fossil fuels or even be on this planet. We may have set off for greener pastures.

Proponents of burying paper waste tend to be also more focused on where our paper comes from. They advocate the “chain of custody” method  – where emphasis is on providing managed forests specifically planted, grown and managed for the production of paper. This makes a lot of sense as it protects against deforestation which arguably causes more damage and climate change than pollution.

Recyclers

In the red corner we have the Recyclers. Very simplistically Recyclers  believe that the energy required to grow trees, harvest them and manufacture in paper mills is too great and should be reduced by recycling paper. Less virgin paper production also equals more trees. Recycle

The newer generations of buyers and organisation leaders are willing to sacrifice brilliant whites for their branding – which paves the way for  less processing and for the use of rapid growing plants such as hemp – to be considered for paper production . Great advanced are being made with the production of hemp and recycled pulp papers. Hemp can provide long fibers that can be mixed with short fibers (from recycled pulp for example) to produce high quality paper for a fraction of the energy and water cost of virgin wood pulp paper.

Hemp b

Hemp can be used as a rapid growth paper source

Is our paper green now anyway?

The printing industry  has come a long way in the last 20 years. Printing was one of the dirtiest/polluting industries just a few decades ago. The printing industry has really put a lot of energy and effort into cleaning up its act and, compared to many other industries, it can now claim to be one of the most environmentally conscious.

Highly toxic heavy minerals and dioxins were used in ink manufacture. Almost all have now been replaced by vegetable dyes and water based inks. Bleaches, chlorine and corrosive chemicals used for paper whitening have been replaced with oxygenating techniques and newer technologies.

Most paper forests are now managed tightly with only a few rogue nations needing to be pulled into line to prevent deforestation continuing.

The theory of “managed forests” for paper production is very compelling and the associated certifications of FSC, PEFC, EnviroCert etc continue to grow and become the standard. We just need them to become a world wide legal standard.FSC

Technology 

The Recyclers may yet have their way through technological advances. Epson has announced plans to release an in-office recycling machine called PaperLab this year.

This machine is designed to sit in the basement of large office buildings and recycle paper previously destined for the shredder or dump. About the size of a large photocopier/digital printer the PaperLab  cleans and restructures used paper into various colours and thicknesses.

PaperLab claims to be able to recycle 14 x A4 sheets per minute – that’s almost 2 reams and hour – depending on colour and weight selected. It apparently does not require water to be added though details on the process are not yet clear.

Epson's Paper Lab A4 paper recycler

Epson’s Paper Lab A4 paper recycler

Epson could be onto a real winner if it carries the concept through to completion. It would certainly prove attractive for security reasons and silence many arguments against recycling. I guess it would be kind of neat to have a steady supply of paper on the shelves too.

Meanwhile if you want to “go green” on your print requirements – you are welcome to call into the studio and talk with us. We are going to have a lot of changes in studio this year and will be “going green” in a very different way soon.

 

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Lets Get Personal

9 05 2013

SONY DSCWell here we are heading towards winter already. We certainly can’t complain about the weather down here in the South. We had a cracker Summer.

We have recently appointed a new branch manager in Christchurch – so we welcome Brent Goldsmid into the team. I know many of you will have dealt with Brent previously as he has a huge level of experience within the print industry. I am looking forward to working closely with Brent around the South Island.

Personally I am very keen to get back into the Dunedin market, spending more time with the Otago team ( and my resident princesses) and spending less time traveling.

Short Run Packaging

We have some exciting news on the technology front – we are entering the small packaging sector with the purchase of an igen 4 digital unit with a Stora Enso Gallop finishing unit.
This means that we will be able to produce small runs of high quality packaging combined with variable information. It will be of particular interest to customers wanting personalised Xmas gift boxes, marketers of highly targeted campaigns and businesses looking for short runs of high quality packaging.
Until now, suppliers of small-sized products in small volumes struggled with the cost of packaging. Typically, a high quality, custom-made package would only make economic sense if volumes of well over 10,000 were purchased – well out of the reach (or requirements) of many small businesses. Most businesses opted for ill-fitting, generic blank boxes and simply applied a sticky label to the blank box.

Digital igen press with Stora Enzo packaging finishing - described by one of my favourite customers as "a nice looking kitchen unit"

Digital igen press with Stora Enzo packaging finishing – described by one of my favourite customers as “a nice looking kitchen unit”

Now, with our new equipment, we will be able to offer glossy boxes with embellishments such as blind embossing, UV embossing and metal foiling in volumes well under 10,000. The digital front end means that we can even change images or text throughout the run.
I have just had a look at this machine (it’s up and running – but still it the testing phase) – and can only say it is AMAZING.
We are working on pricing models now – so if you have any projects coming up – give me a call and we can discuss the possibility of applying this new and exciting technology. I have some neat samples available that your local rep will be happy to show you through.

For all of you techie guys – a good example of this solution is explained in the attached video link below.

http://youtu.be/cGPj_oxeNq4

More Inkjet News

We have more good news on continuing investment in technology with the installation of a third FX2800 Inkjet press in Wellington.

This is due to an increased demand in short run publications, variable data and mailing jobs. We have been pleasantly surprised with how designers have responded to the new inkjet technology and have some stunning examples of what can be achieved with good design.

I myself have the creative skill of a doorknob – so can really appreciate what a difference a good designer can make to that special printed piece. Please let me know of you want to have a look at some of the samples we have of the latest inkjet designs.

I am hoping that it won’t be too long before we see this technology on the mainland.

Plastic Fantastic

Our other new piece of kit (introduced in my post “Summer Sun” last November) is proving to be very popular for non absorbent (plastic) print jobs that were previously the domain of screen printers.

Plastic Labels, shelf wobblers, menus etc produced on the Genius waterless press

Plastic Labels, shelf wobblers, menus etc produced on the Genius waterless press

The KBA Genius Press offers the ability to print on PVC, polythene, and vinyl stocks. It uses a process known as “waterless offset” to print on non absorbent materials………. that basically means we can consider things other that paper for labels, menus and various other high quality and special pieces. The lack of water in the process also means that an extremely sharp image is achieved.

The Genius is also able to apply an extremely durable gloss UV coating that is an economic and fast substitute for gloss lamination. It doesn’t stop there – this kit just keeps giving. The Geniusis versatile enough to apply latex coatings to produce “scratchies” for scratch and win type products. Scratchies were previously very tricky to produce but can now be considered for smaller, quality campaigns and promotions through the Genius

I have some neat examples to share – so give me a call if you would like to check them out for that different or classy approach to your campaign or promotion.

Congrats

Congratulations to Forsyth Barr in maintaining a spot on the “Whats Hot” app list. Forsyth Barr released a finance app late last year to provide a tool that facilitates charts on ASX and NZX securities,  tracking of currencies and commodities, ASX stock research and even Forsyth Barr insights; all in one place on your iPhone/iPad (Android coming soon) .

This five-star rated app could be just what you need on the forthcoming  cold winter nights.

Download the app and check it out by clicking on the link below.

https://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/forsyth-barr-investment-insights/id582067715?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Well that was a fairly blatant sales blog this time – but we have so much new and exciting products to share – I just really couldn’t help myself.

I hope to catch up with you all over the winter season and look forward to providing some great solutions for you. All of this technology is very new to New Zealand (and some of it new world-wide) so we are on the lookout for new applications and ideas to challenge the capabilities of our new machines and solutions.

Take care and as usual – contact me any time for a catch up.





A Brave New Year

11 03 2013

The SwamiThe year seems to be sprinting ahead with the new financial year just a few short weeks away already!!!

2012 ended up being a “full on” year for the entire Dunedin team and, I for one,  was really glad for the Xmas break when it finally rolled around. This will also be an interesting year for me on the home front. With my youngest princess becoming a teenager – we now have a household containing two teenage girls. Everything has suddenly become a hell of a lot more complicated.

Just over a year ago I posted a blog predicting some events in the print industry (see Nov 2011 – Merry Xmas – New Year Picks) I thought it is probably  worth taking a look at those predictions to see how many were proven accurate and also making some more predictions for 2013.

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

OK – I had a bit of a heads up in this one knowing that we were going to order two rotary inkjet digital presses. However, the impact of rotary digital really did take off during 2013. Apart from our purchase of two Fuji Xerox FX2800 inkjets other transactional and mailing organisations (such as Datam and HP) have also commissioned rotary inkjet presses. Rotary technology has impacted the billing and mailing market so much so –  that there has been some large staff layoffs recently. A trend that looks set to continue in the mailing industry.

I think we are only just getting started with inkjet technology and beginning to understand the possible benefits and application. There are already obvious advantages for short run newspapers, newsprint mags, catalogues, variable data work  and any other application where large page count, small run size items are required.

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

There has certainly been an increase in the use of smart phones with mobile plans steering more toward data usage. My predicted drop in tablet prices hasn’t really  come about yet but there are signs of it being just around the corner. As a footnote, the above mentioned teenage daughters both have smartphones and NEVER use them as a phone. They text, kick, chat, google, tumble, listen to music and play games ……..but never use the devices as a phone. Are we seeing the beginning of the end of the voice call?

We have certainly seen the on-line market eat into magazine publication numbers and volumes with many customers trialing on-line publications and measuring results/ROI against printed publications.

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

There is no doubt that SM is effecting the way marketers think about, conceive and execute marketing plans. We have identified the need to re-skill our sales team to understand the new needs of our customers – particularly the way our customers communicate with their customers.

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

Well I nailed this one. In Otago we acquired Taieri Print, in Manawatu we acquired Keeling and Mundy and Print Council in Auckland. All this moves the Kalamazoo group to 4th largest Printer in NZ overall and largest privately owned print organisation.

Nationally we have seen BlueStar sold and Geon Group enter receivership. I think this year will see further fragmentation or consolidation of these two groups capacity (perhaps moving us to number three).

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

There has been a definite rise in print consultants and brokers in the market. This is partly due to many struggling print firms focusing on survival – which often means that they become less innovative when offering solutions to customers. This opens the doors to experienced brokers.

From my experience this situation occurs during periods of industry unrest and turmoil and lasts for some years until the cycle continues and  printers again begin to focus on service and innovation.

It’s my pick that web-based solutions will rise in the next few yeas to offer a reduced cost of serve and reduced price for smaller jobs. Leaving consultants/brokers focusing on the large run, complex and big ticket items.

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

This has proven key to survival for printers in the print industry. The challenge is for printers is to adapt to the ever decreasing print run volumes and still make a profit. One way to do this is to make the business of supplying print very fast and very efficient.

We have done some very interesting work in this space and will be showing our customers some of the new tools we have developed during 2013.

So what will this next year bring us in the print industry?? I have fewer picks for this year but here goes

Social-Media-MarketingNo 1: The Print industry will start to stabilise

There has been a real shake out over the past three years with many of the less adaptive and financially stable players falling by the wayside.

Hopefully, we will see NZ’s print capacity become more aligned to the market size and some more effort go into customer needs analysis as opposed to survival. This will, in turn, lead to innovation and the print firms once again developing their role in marketing and communications.

N0 2: Printers will embrace integrated marketing and become more than just printers

You won’t readily find a printer now that will argue against the speed of uptake that marketers are converting to on-line publishing,  social media and the touch devices that support this.  Most printers are now moving away from the denial phase and into begrudging acceptance that the future is less around heavy metal and more about data and value added products.

I believe 2013 will see more printers move into acceptance of this and many into active participation. This could be the game changer the industry needs to revitalise itself – especially for small regional print firms.

No.3: Many printers will become more automated

Achieving profit will become more about reducing the cost of serve and the ability to charge for more value added services and products. Automating the basic processes such as quoting, input and workflow will allow printing organisations to become more nimble and change faster. This will enable more time and resource allocation to innovation and research.

I will revisit these in 2014 to see if any of these prediction hit close to the mark.

Meanwhile feel free to contact me or your rep if you would like any more information on any of the above topics or products.





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.





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.





Happy New Year – lets stick our heads in the cloud?

1 02 2012

Janine Dunlop

I hope everyone had a relaxing and rejuvenating break over Xmas. I think many of us needed a good break after what proved to be a dynamic year in the print industry. I can hardly believe that we are into February already.

This year starts off with changes for the Dunedin Sales team. We welcome Janine Dunlop and Phil Thornton to the fold as we bid a sad farewell to Leanne Downie after almost 8 years in sales support.

Phil Thornton

Both Janine and Phil have extensive experience with our logistics division and will bring that knowledge and experience  across to sales in 2012. I will introduce Phil and Janine to many of you over the coming few weeks, but let me know if you would like a priority intro and I will arrange this for you.

We are also hoping to bring you some good news regarding  upgrades in machinery and technology early in the new year……………….watch this space.

So all in all, a very exciting start to 2012.

Cloud Computing

The “cloud” seems to be on lots of “things to find out about” lists this year.

You have to chuckle at some of these IT terms. IT folk just seem to revel in coming up with terms that evoke mystery. Put very simply “the  cloud”  just means that data, software or IT  is located outside you business (or personal computer if you are operating from home) and accessed via the internet.

A good example, of a simple cloud based solution, is google’s Gmail. In fact, google offers a bunch of cloud based software such as google docs, google sites, google reader etc that are all cloud based and free. Microsoft is also getting on board with MS Office Web apps  – which is a free version of the popular Office suite (although all are cut down versions). This blog is written with cloud based software (the wonderful WordPress) and past posts are stored in the cloud.

Of course the idea of off-site software, data storage and IT is nothing new……so why all the recent fuss. Well, again, it’s largely due to our good friends the smart phone and the ipad. These devices have really made data much more accessable over the past two years. People want to access applications and files wherever they are and on a variety of devices. If your data is stored in the cloud – then it  can easily be accessed from any of your devices (laptop, desktop, ipad, smart phone). There is no need to synchronise files every time you get back to your desktop.

This has  also driven a demand for multiple presentation formats of the same data. For instance, a web site may look great on a desktop screen, however, could need to have a completely different design to make it easy to read and navigate on a smart phone or other mobile device. This is driving a whole new field of opportunities for IT developers and web designers.

Many people (and businesses) are opting for cloud based software as it also removes a lot of the hassle around maintaining software and hardware. Just think – no more expensive upgrades to keep up to date, no more hanging around waiting for the back up tape and dropping it off somewhere safe. No need to buy or replace servers to keep a handle on the ever-growing amount of information that businesses store and transfer today. The software is upgraded in the cloud without a technician in sight and there is an unlimited supply of storage available ( you just pay for the amount you use).

Cloud based software also allows for rapid deployment and lower risk when considering major software changes. With much lower capital investment required, the cost of change is reduced and major change can, at least, be considered (where previously it may not even have made the table if a whole infrastructure change was involved).

As more software organisations are offering cloud-based options we will likely see the following trends:

  • The quick reduction in the cost and availability of data storage……..How much does a 500G external hard-drive cost compared to two or three years ago?
  • Subscription based “cloud” versions of software offered as an option to buying a full license CD or download to your desktop or server.
  • Free subscriptions to cloud applications used as teasers for hardware sales (good news if upgrading your hardware).

So is there a downside to this cloud technology? There has been some discussion around compliance of data stored in the cloud. For example, data held on cloud storage servers in Germany by a New Zealand organisation may need to comply with data storage legislation in both countries. However, if the data was held in China it may only need to comply with NZ legislation. Then there is the area of property and piracy legislation to consider (lots in the news around this at the moment). To say this area is “hazy” is probably an understatement. My personal opinion, is that this will sort itself out as a matter of momentum.

I hope this gives at least a broad understanding of “cloud” computing. Just contact me if you want any more information around any of the subject covered in these blogs.

PS: As part of our sustainability programme – we have converted some waste material into memo cubes which are available, free of charge, to our valuable customers (while stocks last).

I also have some reduced size computer desk pads (with calendar) available – also while stocks last. Just let me know if you would like any of these and I’ll drop off.





Print On Demand – The Future Standard?

13 12 2011

Print On Demand (POD) is another one of the print industry’s terms that seems to be on everyone’s lips at the moment. It is also another piece of lingo that means different things to different people. Sometimes, I think the print industry deliberately invents ambiguous terms just to fool people into thinking print is complicated.

This one though, is fairly easy to dissect and explain.

Print on demand has been around for years as a concept. It was spawned out of the “Print Management” concept that was popular around 10-20 years ago and worked as follows.

Your Print manager (Sales Rep) would visit your premises once a month and physically count all your printed items (good ones would actually tidy up and organise your store-room or stationery cupboard for you). Over time, they would  calculate the usage of each piece and recommend when and how much stock to re-order. This made sure that you would never run out of your printed items.

The Print Manager would also store larger runs at his place and “top up” your stationery cupboard, after his monthly stock check or, on request. This was the first print on demand solution. It was driven  by the need of business form manufacturers requiring long lead times, customers requiring larger print runs and the print industry having a very large slice of their customers marketing budget.

POD today could probably be better described as “instant printing”. The advent of the internet and digital print (described in an earlier post) means that lead times can be reduced to a fraction of the time they were in the past. Proofing times are being reduced by file portability and there is no need any longer for lengthy film and plate processes.  We have been using this POD process for years in Dunedin for some large Corporates and Government  departments. Lists of files are sent to our Dunedin plant every night via our on-line solution. We then collate the orders from all the customer’s branches and then group run all the jobs in the morning, ready for despatch the same afternoon.

Why produce in Dunedin if many of these corporates are in other centres? Well it’s still true that good old Dunners enjoys some of the best small pack carrier rates in NZ. It’s due to many factors unique to NZ, such as the population spread and shape of the country. You can still overnight a pack to Wellington from Dunedin, at less cost than it takes to send a package across town in Auckland – go figure.

The latest incarnation of POD has been the placement of a file directly onto the Digital Press by the customer………..true print on demand. The ability to do this has been around for 10 years or more. So why hasn’t it taken off and everyone started submitted files along with the job online?? I guess it has been a mix of a general lack of trust in new processes and that printing is fraught with risk. Almost every single job is a custom-made piece and  if it’s printed incorrectly there probably isn’t a use for it anywhere else. This was the reason that hard copy proofs were standard practice in the past.

Nowadays, proofing is often handled by the customer and a soft copy PDF supplied for print. The print supplier, in this scenario, is only responsible for ensuring the file is not corrupted or changed before printing ………….and that the  printed piece is matched to the file supplied. This has morphed POD into a new term…………..Web to Print.

Web to print solutions attempt to provide the ultimate in POD – Same day or next day delivery by using web-based tools to speed up quoting, input and order processes. I had to chuckle when I read the latest lingo for web to print. Our North American cousins just couldn’t leave it as (the already broad and multi meaning) “web to print”: that was becoming too easy. Now the concept is known as “web enabled marketing supply chain management”…………..I’m sure that there are folk in this industry whose sole job is to make these terms up.

At Kalmazoo we have a variety of POD processes in operation and under development.

Manual POD

An FTP site is set up for customers to deposit files in.

Orders are placed via email and file placed on FTP site by customers. We use this to place a job into the system and complete as normal. This is still favoured by organisations that want to print large volumes and want an initial, small volume, despatched on production (POD) and balance placed into stock for future distributions. A good solution for group running jobs from multiuple branches on weekly or daily basis.

Online POD (Static)

This solution provides a simple POD solution where items are ordered as required through our ECOS ordering solution. We set up a file in our DAM system and a price per finished piece is set up for billing. Your nominated staff are given online access and can order up to a set maximum. Jobs are instantly routed to the press queue. This solution allows organisations with multiple sites to arrange next day delivery to any branch. The need for printing  large volumes and storage is removed.

Online POD (Variable)

Used mainly for business cards, envelopes, letterheads, compliment slips etc – where an online template form  is populated by the user and merged into a PDF to complete an on-line proof.

Once the proof has been completed the user chooses quantities, billing and delivery details, from a predefined list, and the job is then queued to the printing press.

This can be used for completely digital jobs  or overprinting base stock. Again, this solution most beneficial for organisation with multiple sites requiring fast or next day delivery.

Online POD (Upload)

Similar to static online POD – but here the printing file and the database, or customer lists, are uploaded by the customer at time of order. Our Digital Asset Management tool (Digital Peas) can publish direct to ECOS – so any customers using Digital Peas will only need to upload the database for any POD jobs.

Again the value of this solution is a very small order to distribution timeframe.

Where will all this lead to ??

My pick is that as print volumes reduce and printing becomes a smaller part of marketing campaigns, clever printers will branch out into other parts of marketing. Wickliffe invested heavily in the logistics part of our business with the development of on-line tools and the purchase of warehouses. It would make good sense to look at placing our customer services and POD units into the warehouses. This model would allow other (non print) components of a campaign to be carried out in the same building and for teams to share information quickly.

For example a campaign may involve a text messaging promo and distribution of prizes – then be followed up by a direct mail campaign to respondents. These type of integrated marketing campaigns could be best handled by a mix of call centre/POD digital print shop and warehouse facilities. Stocklink (Kalamazoo’s Logistics Arm)  is currently involved in producing on-line loyalty software and providing the purchasing, storage, customer service and other logistics solutions in maintaining loyalty schemes.

I guess time and the market will ultimately tell us what the future printshop will look like .

Let me know what your view of POD is or contact me if you would like any more information regarding any of my blogs………..and don’t forget to stick your email address in the box on the right to receive updates automatically.