Dealers That Have Not Given Up
"Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't." - Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free.
Each month Dealer Communicator (DC) features an editorial that reminds dealers of the changes in the printing industry and encourages dealers to face up to the changes and do something about it. Change is difficult, especially when a lifetime has been spent selling products to a market that is slowly diminishing. But this month the message is different. Oh, the trend towards digital printing continues to show growth but the population of medium to larger offset presses is still large. Also, printers are keeping their offset presses longer so the need for parts, accessories and service remains a necessity.
Graphic arts dealers cannot change the direction the printing industry is taking in the move towards digital presses and the electronic distribution of marketing materials. We are in the technology age and it is a rolling stone. Quick (offset) printers are now on demand digital printers. We also know that reductions in the number of printed pages have affected both the number of offset presses and the number of printing companies. This leads to printers keeping their presses longer with a need to improve productivity in order to reduce operating costs. It is in the control of dealers to seek out additional products that go beyond the usual pressroom supplies and provide the ways and means to bring improvements to the offset pressroom.
To gain an understanding of how the press manufacturers are predicting their future Dealer Communicator found an interesting NPES report on "Impact of Electronic Technologies on Press Manufacturers" (http://tinyurl.com/buqpxzy). There are points in this report that convey the way graphic arts dealers should be thinking when it comes to having products for the pressroom. The Report points out realities of the state of the offset industry by indicating that the focus of press manufacturers should be on the more financially strong printers providing them with more productive fully automated presses and workflows offering more in-line coating and finishing options. The press manufacturers are investing R&D monies to make more automated presses with in-line coating and finishing additions that will increase the new press costs as they indicate "to stabilize top line revenues". This emphasizes the opportunity for dealers to provide aftermarket equipment and accessories that will also enhance productivity and in many ways will help printers spend less to gain more in productivity and profits.
The future of graphic arts dealers is in their ability to rise to the challenge of change and keep one eye on the products that are needed to keep the pressroom supplied and at the same time look for and find new products that have a good cost to benefit outcome. There are many products available to dealers that can enhance pressroom efficiencies or expand capabilities. DC interviewed several companies offering products that illustrate opportunities in pressroom products.
The H.S. Boyd Company of Tulsa, OK (www.hsboyd.com), since 1968, has been the manufacturer and distributor of on-press products including: Litho Perf, for perforating; Litho Score for scoring; and Micro Perf for fine perforations. Richard Booth, president of H.S. Boyd told Dealer Communicator that with the movement of many printers to hybrid technologies - that is, having pressrooms with both offset and digital presses made them realize that they needed to both enhance their current print-products and offer additional finishing solutions.
To improve the productivity of their main stream products they developed Auto Perf Plus which is a more automated way to mount the perf/score material and corresponding blanket saver strips. But, Booth said that they also realized that they needed to expand their product offerings and connected with two European manufacturers. For advanced applications they represent the Swiss firm of PPP International, a manufacturer of an on-press perf/score/die cutting system that also includes Prosheet © which facilitates the positioning and mounting of the perf/score/dies. In addition to the PPP product, H.S. Boyd became the exclusive U.S. agent for the German company, Kocher and Beck, manufacturer of the Inline Offset Cutting (IOC) system. IOC is also an on-press system that can die-cut, perforate, cut or crease directly on an offset press in a single pass. Besides the equipment, H.S. Boyd offers production of custom dies and other special materials used with their products. This puts them in the consumable business as well.
One interesting idea that came out of the DC discussion with Booth was that older presses, even duplicators, could be converted to perf/score and die cutting machines using either the IOC or PPP systems. For an illustration, a press conversion would be similar to die cutting and foil stamping that is done on old letterpress equipment. H.S. Boyd is a good example of a company seeing that their traditional market was changing and needed products that could further increase productivity and expand their customer's capabilities along with generating for them additional profits.
Another example of a company that was born out of necessity and has continued to offer new and enhanced products is (PRI) Printing Research, Inc. (www.superblue.net). Dealer Communicator spoke with Howard DeMoore, chairman and inventor of a series of award winning anti-marking products for offset presses. A pressman in 1968, DeMoore kept fighting marking problems occurring on their sheetfed offset presses. He left his pressman job and 13 years later, in 1981, introduced his first Never Wash "Mark-Less" Super Blue system. Since that first product PRI has added improved versions of the Super Blue system. One significant feature of these products is that they require no washing from job to job.
With an understanding that dealers need innovative-productivity-products to survive in a down economy, PRI invented ther new Dry Clean Roller blanket cleaner to reduce waste on startup. And as relates to the DC Roller, according to Lloyd DeJidas of Printing Industries of America (PIA), "It's Amazing!"
Another offset pressroom need is in enhanced ink drying methods. The faster the ink can dry the quicker the reverse side can be printed or moved to finishing. One leader in UV lamps and curing systems is Hanovia (www.hanovia-uv.com). A diversified manufacturer, Hanovia products are used for UV drying and UV curing as well as in PhotoChemistry and other UV related applications. Hanovia maintains business relationships on a global basis, providing standard and custom built UV components for applications in Printing, Surface Finishing (Metal & Wood), Adhesives, Automotive, and Packaging.
DC asked Jeff Andrews of Hanovia his view of the changes in the offset market and whether they are making products for digital printing. Andrews told DC: "Our view of the Global market may be different than our competitors. We are probably too diversified with our core products and their intended use. The offset market has been for us flat but consistent. We see certainly an opportunity for wide and narrow web (inkjet digital) applications both on the OEM as well as the end user retrofit."
Pressroom products from H. S. Boyd, Printing Research, Inc. and Hanovia are examples of what dealers need to have in their tool kit. The key is finding pressroom accessories and supplies that enhance productivity, expand capabilities and have a good cost/benefit ratio for your customers.
We all know the printing industry is changing and will continue to evolve over the years until it stabilizes with clearer cross over points between offset and digital printing. We know some printing markets will be more affected than others. We see this in the book market where print on demand is used to reduce inventories while text books, popular fiction/non-fiction or other volume based books are still done offset. It can change with the advent of high speed inkjet web presses or maybe with Landa presses but these machines still cost one to more million dollars and have higher maintenance costs than offset presses. The point is that change comes at a cost and many customers cannot afford the investments and would rather enhance their existing equipment.
The role of the graphic arts dealer is significant in helping their customers find the ways and means to improve their pressroom productivity, reduce down time, decrease waste, keep their presses rolling and make more money. While on one hand dealers need to invest into the digital side of the printing business there is still plenty of opportunities in the pressroom supply and accessory side of the industry as well. DC
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