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MAN Roland’s New CEO Discusses the Printing Market; Interview with Vince Lapinski

In October 2006,

By Patrick Henry
Published: April 2, 2007

In October 2006, MAN Roland Druckmaschinen announced that Vince Lapinski would become CEO of MAN Roland Inc., effective January 1.

Lapinski received his Bachelors degree in Print Technology and Print Management from the Rochester Institute of Technology and has served in various capacities with MAN Roland for more than 16 years. He was promoted in 2001 to lead the entire Web Operation as Chief Operating Officer and was named a Member of the Board. Taking on the commercial web side of the business in addition to the newspaper operations, he subsequently streamlined and revitalized the Commercial Web Division.

WhatTheyThink.com’s Executive Editor, Patrick Henry interviewed Vince recently about his plans for MAN Roland going forward.
WTT: Your career at MAN Roland has been concentrated in web offset, with a heavy emphasis on the newspaper market. The commercial sheetfed market differs from the web segment in many ways. As a web market expert, what will you have to do to be as successful on the sheetfed side of the business as you have been on the web side?

Vince Lapinski: True, the sheetfed market is different from the web side of the business in many ways, but there are many core similarities that need to be explored by our industry. We need to go beyond the graphic arts and look at the entire media market, and the overwhelming trend there is convergence. Cell phones are becoming music players; music players are becoming video players; video games are starting to surpass the status of feature films.

Given the fact that the media marketplace in which we exist is converging, is it smart to always think of our industry as being structured into three silos: newspaper, commercial web and sheetfed?

We need to go beyond the graphic arts and look at the entire media market, and the overwhelming trend there is convergence.

We see our newspaper customers considering our heatset webs so they can go after commercial work. We see our commercial web clients leveraging the fast makereadies their presses deliver to capture shorter run length projects. And we see our sheetfed printers stepping up to long perfectors and web presses so they can pursue high-volume business. So there is convergence going on within our industry as well, and our strategic focus is on providing solutions for those new industry challenges all of our customers face.

First, printers have to improve their profit margins. We can help them with our advanced automation and reliability. The additional productivity our presses provide lowers their costs, which increases profits.

Second, printers need to expand their range of applications to grow their business. That’s why all MAN Roland sheetfed presses can handle carton-weight stock right out of the box. Buy one of our presses, and you’re already equipped to be a packaging printer.

On the web side, we see customers taking advantage of our wide selection of folders so they can offer more products to their clients, right off the press. And they’re leveraging our faster makereadies to win shorter run assignments.

Then there’s MAN Roland’s “inline everything” philosophy. This is where several different production applications converge on one press, so printers can complete a variety of tasks in a single pass. We offer inline sheeting, inline die cutting, inline observing and a host of other processes. Recently awarded the PIA/GATF Intertech award, the InlineFoiler is turning printing to gold.

This used to be a process that required a complete and much slower second print cycle to be performed. Our InlineFoiler lets printers get the job done in a single pass. So now, what used to be a cost-prohibitive special effect, is affordable and accessible. And printers can offer it as a new application to attract more customers with their ability to offer enhanced printwork.

Customers have some basic needs that are the same. What differs are the specific solutions we offer to each client that meets their individual business goals. As the leading web press manufacturer and the most innovative sheetfed press maker, MAN Roland can deliver a wider range of solutions than anyone else in the industry. That puts MAN Roland and our customers at an advantage, whether you’re talking about sheetfed, web press or the convergence of both.

To sum up, I see my background in commercial and newspaper web as a big advantage at this juncture. We were very successful in what we did on the web side of the business in terms of serving the customer and growing our marketshare. So I intend to grow our sheetfed business in similar ways: by continually improving service, by helping printers apply new technology to their challenges, by listening to our customers and responding in kind. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, when it’s rolling with so much momentum.

WTT: At Graph Expo last year, you said that web presses can compete economically with long perfectors and can even be profitable in volumes as small as 2,000. What’s your strategy for pushing MAN Roland commercial webs further into the run-length markets that used to belong exclusively to sheetfed equipment?

Vince Lapinski: This reflects on my previous answer. As a leader in both web and sheetfed press technology, MAN Roland doesn’t need to artificially divide the market into web vs. sheetfed or them vs. us. We provide the entire spectrum of solutions, so we have no axe to grind, no hidden agenda to push. We can focus on providing the solution that’s best for each customer and activate it quickly.

For printers who are interested in web press solutions, of course we want them to be able to compete against long perfectors. We do that by offering the highest level of automation on our web presses. Automated Plate Loading, the PECOM operating system, printnet networking, QuickStart and other innovations can equip a 16-page web to compete for shorter run jobs, and yes beat up on long perfectors.

On the other hand, we offer our sheetfed customers a range of long perfectors and XXL presses that lets them compete against 16-page webs on longer run work. So you could say MAN Roland delivers the best of both worlds.

WTT: A PECOM innovation called QuickStart is said to automatically control all aspects of bringing a web up to speed and color as quickly as possible, resulting in considerably less paper waste and a considerably faster makeready. Can you quantify these savings with actual examples?

Vince Lapinski: I believe that the most significant innovation behind QuickStart is that it takes the human element out of the start-up equation. The operator interventions that are manually enacted during run-up, and there are many of them, are eliminated. These are tasks that delay profitable production, while waste impressions pour from the press.

A QuickStart ramp-up typically requires only 1,000 signatures. Since paper is usually the most expensive element of a print project, that considerably lowers the cost of production.

By automating the start-up sequence, QuickStart requires only one operator activation point to begin run-up. All of the in-between sequences are taken care of automatically by the program, so they proceed smoothly and precisely, without human delay or error. That results in considerably less paper waste and a considerably faster makeready.

The economies QuickStart delivers, in terms of both material savings and makeready reduction, can let web press facilities more cost-effectively compete for shorter run work. By the time a typical web press starts printing saleable product, as many as 3,000 to 4,000 waste signatures have flown by. That results in sizeable amounts of paper consigned to the recycling bins. In plants that are running five jobs per shift, the cost of such waste could mean the difference between having a profitable day or a marginal one.

A QuickStart ramp-up typically requires only 1,000 signatures. Since paper is usually the most expensive element of a print project, that considerably lowers the cost of production. That means QuickStart can work as a job generator for the web press facility that utilizes it. The efficiencies QuickStart delivers drive down expenditures so significantly that it can help printers win more bids, particularly in the growing area of short-run work.

WTT: MAN Roland is a leader in VLF (very large format) sheetfed presses with equipment like the eight-color-plus-coater version of the 73" ROLAND 900XXL being installed by Schawk in Los Angeles. KBA is another contender in VLF, and by drupa 2008, there may be a third manufacturing player in the field. What will it take to be the dominant supplier to the exceptionally competitive market for these expensive, highly specialized machines?

Vince Lapinski: Pat, I would call these “highly versatile,” machines. In fact, the flexibility of these XXL presses makes them such a worthwhile investment. I think you’re going to see the most adaptable, versatile model dominate this market and that press is the ROLAND 900 XXL.

Its printnet automation, networking and operating system, its fully automated settings, and its Power Plate Loading capabilities mean that a makeready on the ROLAND 900XXL can be as fast and efficient as one on a 40-inch press. That means a printer running a 900XXL can compete against 40-inch equipment as well as going after super sized work. It doesn’t get more versatile than that.

The productivity is built in as well. A 73” ROLAND 900XXL delivers 328% more printable area than a conventional 40” machine. That widens a commercial printer’s profit margins and allows him to offer savings to his customers.

For publication printers, the 73” 900XXL is the ideal format because it can produce a 64-page signature. That means they can go right from press into one of the new generation of jumbo folders that are available and the job is ready for binding. Or if they’re working with smaller folders, an in-line slitter is available on the ROLAND 900XXL that produces two 32-page signatures from each sheet.

The XXL is also poised to significantly boost the popularity of mini-flute and micro-flute package printing. The ROLAND 900XXL can be equipped to handle board thicknesses up to  1.6 mm or 63 pt., positioning it as a highly productive E-flute, F-flute and G-flute corrugated solution.

And there’s a marketing advantage as well. Installing an XXL format press lets a facility differentiate itself from printers who run 40” equipment. That can provide a significant edge in a highly competitive market.

Our most recent advancement in this area involves widening the format of our 64-inch ROLAND 900 XXL. That equips the press to increase the page count of its signatures from 40 to 48 pages. The 20 percent increase in output makes the enhanced system the industry’s most productive press in this extra-extra-large format range.

Installing an XXL format press lets a facility differentiate itself from printers who run 40” equipment. That can provide a significant edge in a highly competitive market.

Those additional eight pages will be an enormous gain to printers involved in signature work. By being able to produce more on every sheet, they’ll be able to be more cost competitive and achieve higher profits on the jobs they print.

The productive feat was accomplished by adding 2.35 inches of printable image area using the press’ existing plate. This image area has increased from 46.85 X 64 inches to 49.2 X 64 inches. Because the plate size remains unchanged, existing platesetters can be used for processing. That means printers can move up to the more productive format without investing in a new CTP system. Bindery compatibility also is assured.

What’s more, by making more productive use of the sheet, the new format will allow printers and their customers to reduce their paper costs. The reason: while the page output from each sheet increases 20 percent, the overall sheet size, or paper usage, increases by less than 5 percent.

Gaining the ability to produce more on every sheet is the reason printers turn to these larger presses in the first place. So it’s safe to predict that our new 48-page ROLAND 900 XXL soon will be the industry leader in the 64-inch size.

WTT: MAN Roland is pushing the envelope of the 40" category with the new “special edition” ROLAND 700, which is said to deliver almost nine percent more image area than a conventional 40" press. What does that equate to in actual productivity? What kinds of printers will be attracted to a 40"-plus machine?

Vince Lapinski: Our new special edition ROLAND 700 produces the largest sheet size in its class. We increased it from 29.1 X 40.9 inches to 30.7 X 40.9 inches, while boosting the image area from 28.2 X 40.2 inches to 30.3 X 40.5 inches.

That nine percent increase in image area can be seen as a direct nine percent increase in productivity. But as you know, a few strategically placed inches here or there can mean so much more in terms of versatility and the types of jobs you can produce. The extra nine percent could mean the difference between winning a job and not even being in the running.

That’s especially true for packaging printers, label producers, and facilities that print applications ranging from unique direct mail pieces to POS material. We designed this press for them.

The ROLAND 700 already features the fastest makeready in its class and a high-performance run speed. Our new plus-size version increases the benefits of those parameters by an additional nine percent without the printer having to do anything extra.

WTT: During Graph Expo 2006 MAN Roland announced a new convertible perfecting model of the six-up (23" x 29") Roland 500. How is it selling? Is six-up equipment catching on in the U.S. market to the extent that you would like? How do you sell its advantages to printers who are more accustomed to other formats?

Vince Lapinski: ROLAND 500 perfectors were first introduced in Europe and have sold well there, and now printers in North America are catching on to the advantages of this six-up press. Our sales projections are right on track because this press delivers the benefits printers here are looking for.

The six-up sheet size of the ROLAND 500 makes it ideal for short run work, while its perfecting capabilities, its speed and its quick makereadies let it compete against 40-inch equipment. So printers used to other formats are quick to see the advantages of this size perfector.

Also: This press’ features translate directly to selling points for printers, in terms of print quality and application capabilities. The ROLAND 500 is the only perfector in its class with a single-drum sheet turning system combined with double-diameter cylinders. That equips it to handle thicker substrates than presses with traditionally sized sheet-reversing gear — up to 24 pt. The advancement also keeps perfecting speeds productive; the 500 perfector delivers a top end of 15,000 double-sided sheets per hour.

The press’s sheet turning unit provides the flattest sheet travel of any perfecting press. And the center points of the ROLAND 500’s cylinders are virtually in a horizontal line for minimal sheet bending, making it ideal for high press speeds and runs with thicker stock. 

The overall design of the new perfector also features the lowest number of cylinders and the lowest number of sheet transfer points. That results in minimal mechanical disturbance of the substrate and the highest register accuracy. It also virtually eliminates the possibility of doubling, scratching and smearing.

What’s more, thanks to the InlinePerfector’s seven o’clock cylinder geometry, the sheet is fully printed before it is transferred to the next printing unit to reduce the possibility of transfer streaks.

Our plans for this year, and for the future, reach beyond presses to encompass the processes that put them to work and the people who run them.

And we can configure this press to accommodate any market. It is available in nine basic configurations, ranging from a 1/1 two-color model to a 5/5 ten-color perfector. Single and double coating units are also available, as are extended deliveries and a host of fully integrated IR and UV drying systems. 

Given all that you can understand why the 500 perfector is shaping up to be a very popular press.

WTT: One of your competitors has announced significant extensions of its warranty and support programs for both new and existing equipment. What new initiatives will we see from MAN Roland in service and support?

Vince Lapinski: I believe one of attributes that makes MAN Roland unique in this industry is our ability to listen to our customers and translate what we hear into solutions that meet each customer’s needs. The key to a successful business is providing service and support above and beyond expectations. We’ve been told that these are key factors for printers in choosing MAN Roland as their web and sheetfed press provider. In order to take that level of service and support to a higher level, a few years ago we launched our printservices program. It provides our customers with total support for the life of their press, including repairs and maintenance, training, project management, upgrades, and more.

We’ve also introduced printcom — our expanded consumables, parts and supply source. Its latest development is an eCommerce website called manrolanddirect.com. The interactive portal connects all of our customers — sheetfed and web — to an inventory of over 100,000 spare parts and consumable components — 24/7. The site was just launched last summer and we’ve already received rave reviews from our customers who’ve taken advantage of this high tech parts and consumables ordering system.

printcom establishes MAN Roland as a major player in the press consumables market. It features pressroom products that have been tested and certified by the development and engineering staffs of MAN Roland for optimum performance.

Our plans for this year, and for the future, reach beyond presses to encompass the processes that put them to work and the people who run them. MAN Roland will continue to expand the solutions and the range of support printservices and printcom offer. A printer’s needs are always changing, so we’re making sure our support programs are ahead of the curve — proactively developing solutions before there’s a need. MAN Roland has the solutions in place, so we can help customers increase their efficiency and profitability.

Patrick Henry, Executive Editor for WhatTheyThink.com is also the director of Liberty or Death Communications, a consultancy specializing in research, education, promotional, and editorial support services for the printing and publishing industries.

Patrick Henry is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us here.

Please offer your feedback to Patrick. He can be reached at patrick.henry@whattheythink.com.



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