A New Chapter

16 06 2015

Time for a changeSONY DSC

Its been over a year since  my last  blog and there are many reasons for that. Well, safe to say- this post will be the return of the blog and will see more than a few changes around format and content.

The first big change is, that after over 12 years at Wickliffe, I have jumped ship and now look forward to sailing on a very different boat called printing.com. I will have to admit that when I resigned from Wickliffe I was not sure that I would be staying in the Printing Industry. Luckily, I was exposed to the energy and ideas of the printing.com team and am now, once again, very excited about the future of print in Dunedin and Otago. Best of all  – I get to stay and work in Dunedin, while my two live-in divas go through their pre-University years.

The printing.com print supply model is a unique take on the printing market for New Zealand. printing.com focuses entirely on providing every region  access to the best of quality print and services through a mix of good advice, people and web portals.

We are NZ’s very own wholesale printer. We batch , or gang run, print jobs from all over NZ every night – effectively allowing for the various jobs to “share” the set up costs…………which lets small businesses choose better quality print at lower prices.

The global print industry has seen the overall volume of print almost halved compared to 10 years ago. In the US and Europe much of the volume handled by small printers has moved to large online web-to-print services that can gang up multiple business card, leaflets and other print products. Small shops still exist for customers who can’t wait for more than one day or have more complex jobs. Our goal is to provide the best of both worlds – a low cost web-to-print service as well as a local digital shop for same/next day requirements.

So whether your preference is to order remotely on-line from your office in the paddock or sit down with a real person in your local town, we have the people and tools for you. Check out the group tab for nationwide site locations and our web site for online tools.

Well then – I guess that’s enough selling already (just call me or come into the store if you want to find out more ) so lets get into some proper blogging and print info.

3D Printing

It seems 3D printing is on everyone’s lips at the moment. There isn’t a week that goes by when I’m not asked by a customer to explain 3D printing.

Technically its a bit of stretcher to call this technology printing – but nevertheless it is a fascinating subject because of where the technology is heading and the potential it holds for all of us.

As far back as the 1980’s additive techniques have been used for prototyping. The term “additive” means that if I were to build a prototype for my mountain-bike chain ring/cog I would build one up out of layers of material, such as plastic or paper (we can start to see where the relationship to “printing”  comes from), until I had the finished product. The traditional “subtractive” method of prototyping was to file or cut the prototype out of a block of wood, plastic or metal ie. keep on subtracting material until you end up with the shape or form that you desire.

I wrote a blog 3 years ago (see “3D Printing – Beam me up Scotty” July 2011 in this blogs archive bar) which is still relevant if you want to check out where 3D printing evolved from. So what has changed over the last three year to make everyone start talking about this again?

Well, a couple of years ago the first consumer versions of 3D printers started to appear as people imported them. In fact, the sales of 3D Printers have grown 30% year on year for the last three years. Prior to this 3D printers were only available to the likes of large manufacturing companies and Universities. The first consumer models were extremely slow, the resolution was poor (the models made had a lumpy or rough finish) and you couldn’t make anything much bigger than a matchbox.

Some of the Maker Bot dometic 3D printer models available today

Some of the Maker Bot domestic 3D printer models available today

Buyers of the first consumer models were often disappointed to find out that they may need extra 3D software and perhaps a 3D scanning device if they wanted to copy something. However, that is all changing as some big player are entering the 3D consumer market and competition is heating up. You can already find 3D printers at outlets such as Warehouse Stationery and it won’t be long before most of the big retail stores are offering new bigger, faster and more capable devices for domestic users. Right now the domestic versions will set you back around the price of a large curved screen TV.

I recently read about a new consumer model marketed by Ricoh which stands at almost half a meter high – so just like TV’s they are getting bigger and smarter every year. If you want to see what they can do (and how much it will set you back) just call your local Ricoh or Xerox rep – they have many excellent samples to show you what these can produce.

So why would you want one of these 3D printer gadgets?

Most blokes will not need an answer to this – its the same answer to why do we need the latest bluetooth/noise cancelling  headphones, curved screen TV, iPad and most of the power tools in the shed. Other than that, to be honest, they are really for hobbyists – model makers, jewellery and arts and crafts. They make great back- scratchers, massage rollers, replacement toy parts, ornaments, garden gnomes, phone cases, chess sets etc.

Of course the larger more expensive industrial models are already involved in producing custom prosthetics and other custom fitted devices such as hearing aids , machine parts and a number of other interesting innovations. 3D printers will continue to be extremely valuable for prototyping – but I doubt they will be fast enough for mass production at any stage in the near future.

The Future

At the moment most domestic devices are limited to the use of extruded plastics and polymers. However, the applications will move quickly as new materials are able to be used as the base material in these devices.

There has been some major progress in the use of amino acids and living cells as base material. This could enable the 3D printing of food and even replacement human organs in the future. This sounds far fetched but the Chinese, who are pioneering this aspect of 3D printing, are already experimenting with skin tissue, kidneys and liver replacements.

The Scots are already having some success with 3D “printing” chocolate and pasta. Some advances have also been made with the use of molten metal to produce metal prototypes – although it is still easier to 3D print the moulds for metal prototypes and then cast them  – as has been done for centuries.

With all these advances it is not a huge leap to one of my favourite dreams – the Star Trek replicator. I fondly remember watching the old TV series as a child – in awe as the Enterprise crew ordered whatever they wanted from the replicator device. Seconds later their favourite meal or drink was “replicated”. Back then I would have replicated a phaser or the latest toy – now I would be happy with a good red wine or a single malt.

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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.





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.





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.





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.





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.