Oce's Guy Broadhurst on Highlight Color and High-speed Duplex Printing
Conducted by Noel Ward,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: October 16, 2006
Conducted by Noel Ward, Managing Editor, WTT Show Coverage October 16, 2006 -- Guy Broadhurst is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Océ Digital Document Systems in Boca Raton, Florida. At Graph Expo, Océ is featuring a number of its products including the Océ VarioStream 9000, which, the company explains, is "black and color-capable." It's also showcasing the Océ VarioPrint 6250, the most productive digital duplex cut-sheet printer on the market. Before the show, Guy and I talked about a few of the key trends and challenges in the industry and how Océ technology addresses some of them. WTT: Caslon & Company research indicates there should be real growth in highlight color over the next few years, and both Océ and Xerox are showing their highlight color engines here at Graph Expo. Yet most of the hype about color printing has focused on full color. How do you see the transition from black-and-white to highlight color to full color taking place? Or is it not a transition at all, and more a matter of using the right technology for a given application? GB: We believe the right amount of color should be used in the first place to meet the application needs. That’s what our philosophy at Océ is all about. We call it "Job Appropriate Color"—the right color in the right place and on the right document. The discussion today is all about how color can be used in documents. But it's really about what’s the best use of color. This is especially important for transactional documents, where companies want the color, especially of their logo, to be part of the story about their company. In most cases it's a matter of recognition, such as Coca-Cola Red, Home Depot Orange, or American Express Green. Of course, the classic use of the right color would be in tax documents, billing statements for due dates, and even on ballots; again, the right place and the right message. We're committed to Job Appropriate Color because it can help make the transition to full color smoother for many customers, And to be honest, both we and our customers have work to do in making that transition. The PDLs are different, the software is different, and we have to make sure our customers have the building blocks for moving forward. We want to walk with and support our customers and meet their application and business requirements. We're not going to dictate that they have to use a full color printer that was really designed for other applications. We’d prefer to help them leverage the capabilities of our full line of equipment. For example, the VarioStream 9000, which is still evolving, can print with a single color as easily as it can use multiple colors, on both sides of a page. But the choice of which color and how to use it is based on the application. It's a transition that takes time and not every print provider will move at the same pace. But let me say one thing here. It's interesting that what we are calling Job Appropriate Color, and have offered for some time, is now getting the attention of other vendors. Like Yogi Berra once said, it's deja vu all over again. We invented twin-engine printing and two-up printing and it wasn't until one of our competitors brought their version of those concepts to market that people realized what we had. It's the same with Job Appropriate Color. Now some our competitors are starting to offer their highlight color options and speed up their black and white systems to keep up with ours. So who is the leader here? WTT: One of the obvious ways to use highlight color is to replace preprinted forms. But when I talk with printers in the transactional space, such as service bureaus, they tell me customers who could take advantage of highlight color may be reluctant to make the transition from pre-printed forms. How can these customers be shown the advantages of moving to plain paper and highlight color? GB: One of the interesting things about direct mail is the importance of time to market. Pre-printing a form or a shell can take up to seven days, in addition to the time needed to print the offer with a digital press and put it into the mail. This is time you have to factor into a campaign, which also means a direct marketer often can't respond as quickly as they might like. You have to design the form, place the order, wait for it to be offset printed, then digitally printed, and finally mailed. But in replacing the pre-printed form, you can, with plain paper, have your design, print once, and mail. In some cases this can happen in as little as a day or two. There is a huge time advantage working with plain paper that can be very important. Additional cost and productivity savings are realized as the direct mailer no longer has to warehouse or manage an inventory of different forms that may become obsolete sitting in storage. The second advantage is using the right colors without guesswork. If you are using customized toner colors on a digital press you know from the very beginning that a critical color for a logo will print exactly as expected. There's even the ability to use different colors for different groups or even individuals, increasing the level of personalization. For instance, the variable part of most direct mail pieces is still printed in black. But suppose you print that information in color? Suppose you can change the length of the piece itself or the nature of the offer based on the type of customer? Those are key advantages that are very exciting for companies sending out direct mail. WTT: OK, you and I understand that. But what about the print providers you are marketing your products to? GB: It can be hard for some print providers to appreciate all the advantages, but I find that their customers see the potential right away. For example, most printers don't normally think about time to market. But when you go with a printer to visit their customers and talk about tools that can help them get to market faster, vary a document's messages, and how costs can be contained by taking pre-printing off the table, they understand it right away. That's huge! They see the value and the print provider begins to have more relevance for that customer. WTT: Print providers buying highlight color machines normally have a mix of equipment in their shops, some color, some monochrome. How can they use highlight color capability as a differentiator in their business? What advantages does it allow them to offer their customers? GB: One of the most interesting things about direct mail and transactional printers is that they like to use their equipment in many different ways. They look for machines that offer a lot of flexibility. For example, they want to add highlight color to a job for very little additional cost or even mix colors together to create different blends and shades. They’re also interested in using highlight colors to create duotones and tri-tones. We can do these things on the VarioStream 9000 and we're demonstrating that here in Chicago at Graph Expo. The difference is that in comparison to a typical full-color digital press, these are highlight colors, not CMYK, so they don't require the same level of color management expertise. It's less expensive, too, and cost is on everyone's mind these days. For direct mail printers this provides a lot of flexibility in what they print and how they use a machine, such as putting different spot colors on each side of a page. This positions the print provider more as a value-added supplier that can offer a wider range of capabilities and handle more applications at an affordable cost. When print providers' customers see these things, they recognize their printer has invested in the latest technology that will help them increase their customer retention WTT: Some of this grows out of pre-printed forms. Outside of preprints, what types of documents present the greatest opportunities? GB: You know about hybrid documents—ones that use preprinted shells and are then imaged on a digital press with variable data. Well, the new type of hybrid has more colors and messages in more places, even on long form lengths. In direct mail 21" and 27" form lengths are normal, so with continuous-feed highlight color you can print variable information on both sides of a page using whatever colors you prefer. WTT: At the On Demand show in May Océ won Best in Show for the new VarioPrint 6250. You have it here at Graph Expo and the machine is ready for the market. Its biggest claim to fame is the simultaneous duplex capability and the throughput that allows for duplex documents. What are the key applications you see this device being used for? GB: It was fantastic to get the award and we're very honored to receive it. The VarioPrint 6250 is the first digital cut-sheet machine designed around the need to duplex, not just being able to duplex. It's interesting to wonder why no one did this before since so much of what is printed today is duplexed. As for key applications, I don't think this is about applications--it's a marketplace issue. OK, there are statements, books, high quality graphic arts--all kinds of duplex documents, with tremendous opportunities in the book publishing market. What we've done is simplify the process to suit the environment and made producing these documents easier. All the different kinds of duplex documents can be produced on this machine, including things like duplex tab printing. But the machine isn't as much designed for a set of applications as it is designed for a marketplace that produces a lot of duplex pages. We designed the machine with the industry in mind. We wanted to change the paradigm. WTT: Other than duplexing, what features are generating the most interest among prospective buyers? GB: The first things that strike people are speed and the resulting productivity improvement, the rated monthly volume of up to six million impressions and the small footprint. But it's some of the little things that turn up as being a big deal to many customers. They like that we print on both sides of the page at once in a single pass guaranteeing near perfect registration. We don’t use developer and the mono-component toner generates a lot of interest because it provides high consistency from one job to the next and from run to run of a job. They like the short paper path and the Paper Logic system that lets operators load paper the way it will be printed. They like the high paper capacity and that you can put any stock into any of the drawers, including pages that will be interposed. It's not just one thing--they seem to look at all the features as a group. WTT: Finally, are there any trends you see in the market print providers should really be paying attention to that may not be really obvious or might be easy to ignore? GB: Over the past few years, we have talked about the impact of convergence. The market is showing that the convergence trend is still important and evolving. Color has brought it to the forefront in a lot of print providers' minds. Printers have to think about how color is going to affect them, especially in direct mail and transactional printing. Whether they shift to highlight or full color depends on a number of things, but they will have to make the shift, and proactively planning for it now is absolutely critical. Of course, variable data continues to be an opportunity for driving growth, both in the color and monochrome space, and across transactional and publishing applications. Another important point is the convergence of print and the Internet, and managing that effectively. The interrelationship here is continuing to evolve and print providers have to be attuned to it. Hire the right people. Do it now. It's probably the most important thing. Hire people who can open your eyes to what is going on outside your particular part of the industry. If you're primarily in graphic arts, hire someone who can help develop a mailing operation. If you are doing transactional print and mail hire a graphic artist who knows how to get the most out of PostScript, PDF and graphic design tools. You need their different skill sets and thinking to help you move your business to where it needs to be to compete in the future. And here's a curve ball: Pay attention to legislation, especially any related to direct mail. Changes here can have a profound impact on your business. Invest in a trip to a show like MailCom to see things that are going on that may not be obvious. And of course, workflow continues to be the cornerstone of a successful print operation. Having the right print engines, the right color strategy, and the right integrated workflow--one that enables the print shop or in-plant print room to accept and manage jobs digitally and via the web, and increase accuracy, and accelerate turnaround. All of these components of an integrated solution can have a tremendous impact on efficiency, productivity and ultimately the ability to satisfy existing customers and acquire new ones. Océ is focused on helping our customers address these types of concerns. We continue to offer print providers total, integrated solutions that enable them to handle more applications with better quality at faster speeds. From document creation, preparation, and production to distribution and delivery, we have industry-leading hardware and intelligent workflows that make the most of a printer's resources now and going forward.