Great News For The Otago Print Industry

21 02 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Equipment

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

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

2800 Continuous Feed Colour Inkjet Press

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

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

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

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Merry Christmas – New year Picks

20 12 2011

"Has anyone seen my glasses?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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.