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.





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.