By now, you may have heard about Kodak’s ChiefPackagingOfficer, a new online resource for packaging professionals. If you haven’t, its publisher, Joshua Fedeli, wants you to know why the portal is worth your time, attention, and participation.
Although wearable technologies are still in the early adopter phase, the power of connectivity is driving change at an unprecedented rate. With the information available from wearables, marketers will be able to understand context and generate much more relevant messages. This article is part of a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry.
The Fed stopped Quantitative Easing a while ago, and the value of its balance sheet fluctuates around the $4 trillion level. As their holdings mature, their aggressive position in the bond market will slowly unwind. Or will it? The Fed is likely to decide to re-invest proceeds in more bonds and obligations, replacing the matured debt with new ones, but not adding to their overall position unless there is a crisis again. Until their first moves where they doubled their balance sheet quickly, from $800 billion to $1.6 trillion, this measure of the money supply moved steadily at about a 6% annual rate, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less, about half equal to economic growth and the other half to inflation. Whether or not the Fed will reduce its balance sheet or not is still a question in my mind. They could just hold steady, and let inflation and growth catch up to them, which will take quite some time, but not scare the markets. But something always happens that's not according to plan, and the Fed will be interesting to watch as they move from this unchartered territory to another.
The last time we took a good look at Impika inkjet offerings was prior to drupa 2012 and the Xerox acquisition. Since that last article, Xerox has integrated the Impika organization into the Xerox organization, its former offerings into the Xerox portfolio and now into the Xerox master brand. With the announcement of the Xerox Rialto 900 Inkjet Press, Xerox is releasing the first true collaborative effort following the acquisition.
Parenting and your print MIS have many characteristics in common. They are both long-term investments that essentially never end. There is great potential combined with great frustration and common stages that you will pass through before feeling any sense of accomplishment – always in retrospect.
The US Department of Commerce issued their latest report about capital investment spending in 2013, and we've written about it in a recent blogpost. As part of our analysis, we applied the rate of investment to industry shipments and arrived at the chart below. It shows two rather distinct periods, 2003 to 2007, where capital investment was not as good as the late 1990s, but recovered and stabilized after the first negative wave of digital media. Some of this was replacement of late 1990s equipment that had come off lease. Then there's the 2008 credit crisis and recovery. Capital investment declined in volume as industry shipments fell from the introduction of social media, new devices, and cheaper and faster communications. But the rate of capital investment is slowly rising, even though shipments are shrinking, and the number of plants is contracting. The survivors tend to be healthier establishments, who survived the downturns, and are likely making better investment decisions.
Capacity management has proven to be a challenge for many wide-format print businesses, especially as many jobs are specialized or customized in some way. What are the ways that shops are coping with this “pain point”?
Jimmy Vainstein, senior project manager of the World Bank Group’s Printing & Multimedia explains how investing in a production inkjet printing solution has revolutionized the institution’s business and increased its value to Bank Group clients.
Say “MBO” to anyone in the industry, and the reply will be “folders.” That answer still passes the word association test, but it’s far from being the full story of what this diversified supplier of graphic equipment now has to offer printers and packagers.
While the TAGA Annual Technical Conference doesn’t draw huge crowds, it should. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne speaks with Printing Industries of America’s Dr. Mark Bohan about this year’s program featuring new ideas and solutions for growth.
Do you approach change as an incremental, keep everyone comfortable manner? Or do you see how much the external conditions have changed while your company has stayed still? Is your print software able to support your current and future business needs?
Marketing personnel will be more accountable than ever before for generating sales results. Marketing automation software can dramatically increase leads and profit, and it also provides a greater return on investment in relation to conventional marketing platforms. This article is part of a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry.
2015 saw a bigger and better EFI Connect, with more than 1,000 customers in attendance and a total attendance of more than 1,500 people. As usual, the conference featured many educational sessions and outstanding keynotes. But there were some differences this year.
Every February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) updates employment data for the prior year and beyond. This year, the revisions to printing industry employment went back to April 2013. When the BLS calculates employment, especially for industries, it uses estimation methods because actual data are not readily available. That actual data are derived from the Social Security tax filings of employers. In this case, the BLS was underreporting employment, especially in mid-2014. Employment data are used as an input into Commerce Department data for the estimation of industry shipments. Those new employment data, though not released publicly, were probably used in recent months shipment calculations when 2014 shipments began to have favorable comparisons to 2013. It is possible, based on these data, that 2014 industry shipments will be revised up in the annual mid-May shipment revision report. An educated guess would put the change at approximately $1 billion, bringing shipments from +0.2% in current dollars to about +1.5%, or flat with 2013 after adjusting for inflation. Nonetheless, employment in December 2014 was less than December 2013. As can be seen in the chart, January 2015 employment is reported as dropping considerably. January and February tend to be slow months, and March can be one of the best. February employment may rise in anticipation.
What does a package do? It contains, protects, transports, and identifies what’s inside it. That’s the neat, four-cornered functional description of a package. Here are some edgier ones—and a couple that don’t have edges at all.
Paper and packaging industry giant MeadWestvaco appears to be at the end of its life as an independent entity. The company agreed to a merger with RockTenn to form a yet-to-be-named successor company. RockTenn’s expertise in kraft paper, corrugated cartons and retail displays will combine with MeadWestvaco’s strengths in paperboard and folding cartons. The result will be a powerful player in the increasingly global packaging industry, with over $15 billion in annual revenues.
Technical printing—graphics that serve the architectural, engineering, and construction markets—has been changing in both positive and negative ways, and “reprographics” shops are changing with the times. And it’s not always just about the equipment.
Radius software for MIS/ERP has been at work in label and packaging printing plants for many years. Now part of EFI, Radius will significantly expand its toolkit within a new framework called EFI Enterprise Packaging Suite.
Let’s get one thing perfectly clear, you DO NOT invest in print software to run your business as it is today. The whole point of software is to enable you to run your business differently - creating more efficiency.
As expected, but still exciting to see, another Next Wave production inkjet print technology has been introduced. This one is from HP, and it continues to show that they haven’t been sitting idle in the time since we last took a good look at their production inkjet offerings.
There has been a surge of growth in what are called “large-format wine bottles.” Magnums, essentially (or would that be “magna”?), or wine bottles greater than 750ml. Indeed, popular sizes include 1.5 liters, 3 liters, and 6 liters. Now, obviously, some of these are intended for parties and other events with large gatherings, not a quiet romantic dinner for two, lest it descend into drunken anarchy (which depends on your approach to dating, I guess).
At the heart of nearly differentiation strategy are techniques for enhancing the overall customer experience. By improving the customer experience, organizations hope to increase customer satisfaction and boost loyalty. This article is part of a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry.
WhatTheyThink was present in force at Digital Book World, our first time to attend this event which is in its 6th year. Were you there? We didn’t see many printers! See what Senior Editor Cary Sherburne has to say about this event and begin planning to attend next year.
Recovery indicators in manufacturing continued to retreat in the ISM manufacturing report, in concert with news earlier this week from the Commerce Department that showed five months consecutive decline for factory orders. Non-manufacturing orders rose slightly, but imports continued to pull back. The ISM new orders for manufacturing and non-manufacturing are still above 50, which indicates future growth, but at a slower rate. The NASDAQ index was up in the last month, but is still lower than it was two months ago. Trading has been choppy, which sometimes is indicative of a developing turning point. The one bright spot in the report is a measure of small business, proprietors income, upbeat news in an otherwise tough month.
Twenty years ago when we described the function of marketing we would have started with terms like “creative” and “messaging.” Then we would have talked about distribution channels for getting these creative assets and messages out to the target audiences, primarily consisting of print, TV, and radio.
Throughout the years, our printing industry has always faced challenges with meeting regulatory compliance of existing OSHA rules. Now, in 2015, there are new changes that will bring new impacts. Two of the changes discussed below have come about because of revisions to OSHA’s record keeping and reporting rules and the third is attached to the recent revision of the Hazard Communication Standard.
King Printing continues to grow in a highly competitive book printing market, spurred by its investments in production inkjet printing presses. In this article, sponsored by HP, Managing Director Adi Chinai explains how inkjet printing has changed its business and that of its publishers.
When a business model needs reinvigorating, the first thing to do is to revisit the fundamentals. Heidelberg acknowledges this with “Vision 2020,” a strategic redirection that places new emphasis on the non-machinery parts of its portfolio.
Will it surprise anyone to learn that there’s no universally accepted definition of “sustainable packaging”? Probably not, but the extent of the confusion raises eyebrows all the same. Readers of Packaging Digest discovered this when they scanned the results of a recent survey by the magazine and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) into what’s standing between packagers and their desire to make their products more sustainable.
Every business owner has ideas, plans, and a vision for what they want their company to become. There is never a shortage of ideas; there is a severe lack of execution. Good project management can convert more of your ideas to reality through a disciplined execution process that annoys most people involved (especially impatient, attention deficit prone business owners).
The following charts show how job openings have been on a steady rise since the beginning of the recovery in mid-2009, and have now passed the recent peak when the recession began at the end of 2007. But that was a long time ago, and population has grown since that time. The 2000s have a long way to go to catch up with population-adjusted job openings since the turn of the century.
PCs are expected to become secondary to smartphones and tablets for a significant share of consumers. This trend is driving marketers to focus on mobile application development. This article is the second in a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry.
How do you decide what kinds of wide-format or specialty printing products and services to add to your current mix? You can jump into a new niche application as a newbie, or organically expand into new directions. As it turns out, there is no right answer—but plenty of wrong ones.
I was talking with the owner of a sign shop recently, and we got to talking about new technologies that sign and display companies were starting to utilize—I was thinking specifically of EFI’s SmartSign Analytics—but he happened to mention other new technologies such as “smart fitting rooms” whereby sensors in a clothing retailer’s fitting room mirror track RFID tags on the clothing you brought in to try on and suggests accessories or complementary items. Sound creepy? It does a bit, doesn’t it?
The dining experience at fast food restaurants isn’t about the dining experience at all. It’s about the price, the availability, and the consistency no matter where you are in the world. The value proposition is clear, you serve yourself, you’re encouraged to clean up after yourself, and clearly by the comfort of the seats, you aren’t encouraged to linger.
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has done a nice job of consumer outreach with PaperRecycles.org, a new web site that aims at better educating the public about recovering paper and paper-based packaging for recycling.
Frustration happens, especially with print software projects like Print MIS and web-to-print. When frustration happens do you flex, adjust, look for a solution or do you stay in that frustrated state? Find evidence of the behavior you want more of and reward that behavior, in your people, in your vendors, in your partners – that will accomplish more than yelling, escalating, and threatening will ever do.
About 15 years ago—give or take—in a monthly humor column I wrote at the time for the late, lamented Micro Publishing News, I proposed the idea of a drive-through wide-format printer for vehicle graphics.
To thrive in today’s environment, service providers must connect strategy, capabilities, technology, and specific initiatives. Print and marketing service providers who are willing to embrace change can drive profitable business growth. This article is the first in a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry.
In a continuation of the Next Wave of new production inkjet presses and technology series, we cover Super Web Digital, a ‘Made in America’ press manufacturer, which has introduced two new web press platforms based on new Memjet inkjet imaging technology. What makes this interesting is that both Super Web and Memjet have introduced new technology in these products, bringing both of their offerings to a new level.
For those who have been following along, the chart below is the latest update for budget planning. It's always a benefit to understand your sales and costs in historical perspective. Without adjusting for inflation, you could be working on assumption of trends and relationships that are untrue. Make it “real.”
We can’t improve upon a recent press release from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) about the creation of the world’s largest ball of paper—a stunt with an important point to make about recycling for packaging.
Swiss-based Trendcommerce (Schweiz) AG has always been a trendsetter in Switzerland. The company has secured its market-leading position through the acquisition of production inkjet presses. This has enabled a white-paper-in workflow, virtual elimination of offset printing, reduction in black & white toner-based volumes and a revenue growth of 50% since 2011. Read more in this HP-sponsored story.
EFI Connect, Dscoop X, AMPS Executive Leadership, NPOA, and PODI, the upcoming industry events where you have an excellent opportunity to connect and collaborate with peers. Do you want to do everything in your power to assure your next print software decision is a good one? Get the whole story from a peer who has already implemented the solution.
The number of workers with full time jobs has still not exceeded levels at the start of the recession about seven years ago. This is despite continuous population growth and higher GDP levels for 21 of the last 22 quarters. Of last year's +2.2 million increase in employment, about 970,000 were part time positions. Many part time positions are by choice of the employee, an unknown number may be from distortions resulting from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and others are from uneven economic conditions and low expectations about future business conditions. There is some employment optimism in recent surveys of the National Federation of Independent Business and both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing surveys of the Institute for Supply Management.
As I was planning the 2015 editorial calendar for our Wide-Format section, I began by drawing up a list of topics that I had covered, topics that were heavily featured at trade shows like SGIA and ISA, and topics tend to get covered elsewhere in the industry press. And aside from the basic technological topics like “Roll-to-Roll Printers,” “Flatbeds,” “Finishing,” and so forth, the majority of the subject matter was on specific applications—and applications that were all over the map (and some even included maps!).
In the coming year, trying something new rather than continuing with business as usual can be the difference between success and failure. This article leverages recent research from InfoTrends to explore how industry leaders are making the most of today’s turbulent market.
The Darwinian process of growth, change, merger, and failure proceeded with full vigor during 2014. The 241 transactions announced during 2014 in the printing, packaging, and related industries in the US and Canada represent a 40% increase compared to the 172 transactions that we noted during all of 2013. The vibrancy of the market is consistent with the M&A activity noted across many industries over the past year
2015 is already shaping up to be a busy year, and one of the highlights is Hunkeler Innovationdays scheduled for February 23-26 in Lucerne, Switzerland. Cary Sherburne speaks with Standard Finishing President Steven Reny to learn what we might expect at this year’s event.
The checklist RFP (Request For Proposal) fails to deliver the best purchasing decision. Your peers (the voice of current customers) are your most trusted source of information about how print software products perform in live environments and how print software companies support their customers after the sales process.
In today’s world, the introduction of new offerings is not always enough; rebranding is sometimes required to truly respond to changing market dynamics. This article explores how Qdmh has rebranded itself as Innovairre.
Economic press coverage of the Federal budget is usually limited to the annual deficit, the shortfall of tax and fee collections versus spending. While the deficit as a percentage of GDP is down to about -4% from 2009 when it was more than -9%, the deficits do accumulate. Now, the total debt of the US exceeds GDP. This is likely to keep political pressure on the Fed to keep rates down. It also means that a 1 percentage point rise in interest rates would cost $180 billion and can double the annual deficit. But the Fed may not be able to increase interest rates when they want to no how hard they might try. International rates, such as those in Germany, have recently been below 0.5% for the 10 year bond. US rates are comparatively high in the 2% range, and any push upward by the Fed would probably be met by arbitrage actions in the other direction.
The end of the year always brings a flurry of state-of-the-market reports from research organizations and commentators tracking the global packaging industry. Here are pulls from some of the year-end pronouncements for 2014 that we gathered last month. They tell us that despite the unpredictability that always has to be factored into forecasts like these, 2015 is shaping up to be a promising year for the world’s packaging printers and converters.
In today’s wide-format market, flatbed printers are all the rage and, for certain applications, deservedly so. But the earliest wide-format printers were all rollfed (or roll-to-roll) devices, and it wasn’t until the early 2000s that flatbeds existed as a product category. Flatbeds emerged to take time and materials out of the “print-then-mount” process; after all, why not just print directly on the surface you want the graphic?
The PrintVis MIS solution has a phenomenal product span, meaning the ability to “flex” in both directions, respond to growth and decline. In this Product Spotlight, Jen Matt reviews the PrintVis MIS solution.
With the help of partners in Germany and the Czech Republic, HP aimed to show printers and converters everywhere how digital strategies for packaging production can be attuned to changing demand and “future proof” at the same time.
Change is viewed as risky because we want to believe that past success guarantees our future success. Your customers are changing, technology is changing, and your competitors are changing, why would you think that maintaining the status quo is anything but the riskiest thing you can do? Standing still is the only way to assure your business’ decline
eMarketer estimates that worldwide smartphone users will surpass 2 billion by 2016, so it is no wonder that retailers of all sizes are making it easy for on-the-go consumers to link to catalogs with mobile applications. This article explores how retailers are integrating mobile to accelerate the purchasing process.
EFI Connect 2015 is shaping up to be one of the best ever, so much so that EFI COO Marc Olin describes it as “Connect on Steroids.” Read what he has to say about Connect, EFI’s future strategies and his role as COO of the company in this interview with WhatTheyThink Senior Editor Cary Sherburne.
Four billion dollars was the approximate bottom of 2005's inflation adjusted annual profits. The four-quarter total annual profits have had a difficult time breaking through that level for more than eight years.
2014 has been a year of incremental—but substantial—improvements in wide-format systems. These improvements are creating ever more opportunities in a variety of applications. Here’s what to keep an eye on in 2015.
A print equipment supplier for almost 70 years, Japan's Miyakoshi Printing Machinery Co. Ltd. is an OEM partner to many of the industry's top technology providers. At a recent open house, the company put the spotlight on presses for labeling and other uses that it markets under its own brand.
Less than a year after swimming with the sharks on the popular TV show Shark Tank in January 2014, husband-and-wife team and printing company owners, Julie and Brian Whiteman, sold their digital photobook app, GrooveBook, to Shutterfly for $14.5 million.
Often the best way to drive a print software solution’s adoption rate is to eliminate the complexity. How ironic is this? We buy print software products based on extensive feature lists and then we drive adoption of the software by turning most of the features off so people will actually use the tool. Isn’t that an awesome irrational cycle we put ourselves into?
This holiday season, greeting cards are taking on a whole new dimension. This article explores how tried-and-true greeting cards are becoming more innovative with the inclusion of interactive elements.
As our readers will know, we have been following developments with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, both in terms of how it is helping publishers tackle the “dollars to digital dimes” conundrum of digital publishing as well as some interesting views into how enterprises are adopting DPS for sales enablement. Today’s story takes us to Maxim Integrated, a designer and manufacturer of semiconductors, who has benefited from the integration of DPS with Adobe Experience Manager for increased sales power.
GDP may say that the recession ended in June 2009, but there are still data series that have not yet confirmed that five years later. Total employment is one of them, as is median household income, but so is the inflation-adjusted sales of companies in the S&P 500. Even though the companies in the S&P 500 index have revenues lower than the peak of June 2008, the S&P 500 stock index is getting closer to all-time high levels of Spring 2000 (The Dow Jones average already is, the Russell 2000 has been for a while, but the NASDAQ is still off by about 15%). These sales of 500 of the world's best companies have not kept up with real GDP growth since the recession ended (about 2% per year). Some economists believe that this is an indication that GDP data should be viewed with great suspicion, and that there has yet to be a true recovery.
The online channel is vital to the future of your print business. The online channel includes all the ways you engage with your customers online. Every new channel you open up with a customer increases the overall loyalty of that customer, creates barriers to entry for your competitors, and has the potential to decrease the customer burden of doing business with you by offering self-service access to your business.
There's encouraging news for producers of corrugated and paper boxes in a newly released research report which forecasts that demand for these products will increase 2.6% per year to $39.4 billion in 2018.
Heidelberg's profile as an equipment manufacturer is not the same as it once was, but its interest in label and packaging production is as keen as ever. This report comes from a high-level briefing that WhatTheyThink received on the company's current ambitions in the L&P equipment market.
We haven’t heard much from Benny Landa lately. But the team has been at work perfecting the first press, the S10, and lining up customers. A blog post from Landa and a link to a video tour of the press and the factory are highlights of this post.
Making the decision to upgrade a Print MIS or web-to-print system can cause anxiety about the unknown issues that may result. A well-planned out implementation can minimize risk and disruption to both the printer and their customers.
Today’s consumers have truly embraced a number of new channels, and the penetration rate is something that marketers couldn’t have even imagined a decade ago. The holiday season is here, and this article explores how retailers are embedding mobile technology into their holiday campaigns.
Third quarter GDP was revised from +3.5% to +3.9%, but the change was mainly in net inventories, and did little to affect the assessment of underlying and longer range growth compared to the prior year of about +2.43%. Inventories have been bouncing around a bit over recent quarters and are running a little higher than they should be, indicating that some minor correction is forthcoming, especially if non-US economies are slowing down.
With a little research, a clearly defined strategy, and fast, high-quality wide-format printing equipment, Phoenix, Ariz.’s Rapid Digital Press has carved out a successful niche in map and GIS printing applications, and is now poised for growth.
Rotolito, one of the largest printing companies in Europe, has built a €10 million business in digital book printing since the inception of its digital operation in 2010. Read what Rotolito’s Gabriella Moretti has to say about the changing dynamics of its book printing business in this article, sponsored by HP.
The good news is that flexographic printing for labels and packaging has resisted economic downturns and competition from digital while becoming a higher-quality, more efficient production method in its own right. The better news is that continuing technical improvements are carrying flexo toward still higher levels of performance.
This summer, members of FINAT, the international trade association for self-adhesive labeling and related industries, met in Monte Carlo for an annual congress around the general theme of "The Battle for Shelf Appeal." What emerged were an updated redefinition of labeling and a frank reassessment of the role that labels play in a greatly altered selling environment for packaged goods of all kinds.
Your people have the power to resist print software technology changes by focusing on the challenges instead of finding solutions. Your job as a leader is to portray technology as a complimentary tool for your people to work more effectively.
October’s SGIA Expo was about more than just new technology, it was about finding new business opportunities and areas for growth. Here are some examples of printing companies who gleaned practical information from the show to take their businesses in new directions.
Did you know—well, heck, how could anybody know?—that some people are willing to injure themselves if that's what it will take to force the last drop of product out of a container? Or that consumers would rather go to the dentist than see product they've purchased go to waste in packages they can't empty completely?
Dietary supplements and nutraceuticals are big business for a small in-plant label printer with digital capabilities that match its marketing ambitions and objectives. An update on Xeikon strategies and financials is also included in this article.
Web-to-print technology and the customer facing resources working in print today need to evolve together so we can support online “collaborative commerce”: a procurement process that requires collaboration between the buyer and the seller.
David Zwang looks at process transformation and automation, and the background and steps you need to understand to be successful. He also looks at some of the current product offerings and how they are being used by service providers, to give you ideas about how you can transform your business and strengthen your customer relationships.
One of the biggest challenges with print software technology today is achieving its full potential. We often get lost in the running of our day-to-day business which prevents us from ongoing process improvement. After the initial implementation, we get distracted and back to the reality of getting customer jobs out the door. We fall into the bad habit of reactive improvement, or if you prefer a more technical term, “Band-Aids”.
While hard work is always a key ingredient for successful business growth, printers of all sizes are pursuing strategic mergers and acquisitions as a mechanism to further strengthen their businesses. While growth through acquisition was once considered the domain of large enterprises, companies of all sizes are now discovering that they can gain access to new printing technologies or services by acquiring or merging with another company. This article explores how First Edge Solutions has achieved business expansion through strategic acquisitions and partnerships.
Mimaki’s 25-city road show includes hands-on product demonstrations and educational presentations that highlight new features of, and top applications enabled by, today’s wide-format printing equipment. Here is a report from one stop on the tour.
CoreBridge is a cloud based, multi-tenant software solution whose business model is subscription based. Like pure technology startups, CoreBridge’s pricing model is easy to understand, available on their website, and allows you to start small and grow with CoreBridge through volume and/or functionality.
Continuous reinvestment and continuous reinvention sum up the strategic thinking at DWS Printing Associates, a Long Island label printing firm with deep roots in the past and a progressive view of the future.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.