A Broadened Product Line Lets Océ Cast a Wider Net An Interview with Guy Broadhurst By Noel Ward, Managing Editor, Trade Shows April 16, 2007 -- Last month I reported on the highlights of the Océ Open House in Poing, Germany and the broadening line of products the company is bringing to market. As I noted, the new products allow the company to compete at a different level than they have in recent years and a couple of systems provide a unique selling proposition. To get a better sense of what its latest offerings mean to the company and the market I tracked down Guy Broadhurst, Vice President of Product Marketing, for an interview. Océ will have much of what Broadhurst discusses on the floor in Boston, so if you'll be at the show be sure to take the time to have a look. There is some interesting thinking behind the company's approaches to common market challenges and their technology is certainly worthy of consideration. WTT: Guy, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. Océ rolled out a lot of new things at Open House in March and I know much of it will be on display at On Demand in Boston. The biggest news is certainly the Océ VarioStream 9240. Tell us a little bit about this machine and where you see it fitting into the production color market. What kinds of customers do you see adopting it and what kinds of applications do you envision being run on it? GB: The Océ VarioStream 9240 is being shown in North America for the first time at On Demand and we'll demonstrate it running not only full-color documents, but also 3/3, 2/2, and 1/1 highlight color applications. Running the full range of documents that can be produced on this machine, demonstrates the versatility of the Océ VarioStream 9000 platform and how our Job Appropriate Color strategy can flex to address a variety of color requirements in the Corporate and Commercial world at the same time. Competing machines are all really meant for one thing: full process color. Our approach is completely different. We expect to see customers using the Océ VarioStream 9240 for a wide variety of documents spanning just about any application you'd find printed on either a monochrome or color digital press--from invoices and statements to manuals, catalogs, brochures, books, booklets and newspapers. Now the Océ VarioStream 9240 can print these applications on just one machine. For example, there are several types of books where highlight and full color add real value to the document. In addition, almost any type of trans-promo documents, most marketing materials and direct mail are a natural fit for this system. This makes the Océ VarioStream 9240 a great solution for all types of print providers--corporate data centers, in-house printrooms, commercial print providers--the full gamut. What's really interesting is that the Océ VarioStream 9000 platform is ideal for many environments where full color might only account for a portion of the jobs that are being produced. To make the most of their equipment investment and capital assets, print providers can use the machine to run 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, or full color in many different applications and environments. The Océ VarioStream 9240 and our Job Appropriate Color strategy present a unique approach to digital color that enables customers to enter the market at the lowest cost with a color strategy that meets their needs today and tomorrow --enabling them to purchase and pay for only the color they need based on their business objectives and the requirements of the job. In the case of our competitor's products, businesses have to justify the cost of a full color machine based on a certain volume of production. Because the Océ VarioStream 9240 readily serves a multitude of purposes in addition to basic bread and butter applications, the system's extreme versatility enables it to satisfy a wide range of requirements with a single machine and in turn deliver a high level of ROI WTT: Okay, we know the Océ VarioStream 9240 is fast, but so are some competing machines from Xeikon and HP-Indigo. How do you see the Océ VarioStream 9240 being positioned in the market against these and other high-end color machines? What's its unique selling proposition? GB: The biggest distinction is that it is not limited to printing full color. As I said a moment ago, it's also capable of printing 1/1, 2/2 and 3/3 on demand. It can produce output with monochrome and/or highlight color much faster and for a whole lot less than dedicated color machines. Just as important, it does so cost effectively at every level and against its competition. Even when it's fully loaded to print full color customers can still print black as inexpensively as a monochrome press--with flexibility to add any amount of color as it's needed. You just can't beat that. These other machines are all really meant for one thing: full process color, and you'd better have the volume to put on a full-color press before you buy to be able to cost-justify that kind of investment. Our approach is completely different. The other color presses NEED to have the full color volume to justify their existence. But if you can run black-only or black and highlight color on the same machine, the real cost for those color pages comes down substantially. That versatility translates to real value for a large universe of print providers. They can start with a black-only model, field-upgrade it to highlight or full color, and use it for mono, highlight or full color jobs. WTT: Océ has industry leading technology in roll-fed monochrome printers and the VarioPrint 6250 introduced last year shows that the company has the engineering and development skills to lead in the cut-sheet market as well. Yet at the same time, Océ has been a bit behind its competitors in introducing color presses. Why has it taken Océ longer to develop and bring a production color press to market? GB: It really comes down to what our customers tell us they need. Many of them acknowledged that they would need full color at some point, but felt the market would take time to develop. We knew they were interested in replacing pre-printed forms with increasing levels of color, but even given that future direction, only a fraction of their jobs required full color output. So what made the most sense was to develop an upgradeable technology platform that could grow and adapt as customer requirements changed. The approach we've taken--delivering job appropriate color on demand--provides a migration path to color with a product family that enables customers to maximize the value of their investments. That way we could serve the widest range of customer requirements with one family of black and color-capable machines that could ultimately deliver full color with Multi-CustomTone--at a speed/quality/cost ratio that made good business sense. For us, it was less about developing a market for full color digital printing than it was about addressing the needs of our customers. The approach we've taken--delivering job appropriate color on demand--provides a migration path to color with a product family that enables customers to maximize the value of their investments. WTT: The Océ VarioStream 9000 line just got a big boost in speed with the new High Performance model of the Océ VarioStream 9000, which can run at 1,350 ppm. What is driving the need for the 60 percent jump in speed? GB: Océ has a track record of introducing complete families of print engines because we believe it is a very effective way to protect a customer's technology investment. We've always known the Océ VarioStream 9000 family was capable of very fast speeds. So it was a natural evolutionary step to add a speed increase with this machine and enable a single system to deliver even more performance to our customers. The key point is that the introduction of the enhanced speed version of the VarioStream 9000 is really about expanding a product family, not just adding another model to the line. We already have a high speed device for the Océ VarioStream 7000 family, which has been our workhorse for a very long time and will continue to be. But now we have two products with very different performance criteria that are able to meet different market needs. The enhanced speed version is not only very fast, but it can be equipped with GraphcArts Plus mode to deliver exceptionally high quality black-only printing. This gives customers the flexibility to run a wider variety of jobs at optimal production speeds depending on the requirements of the application. It's another example of the flexibility we try to build into our products. WTT: I'm glad you brought up the Océ VarioStream line. At 1,350 ppm, the new VarioStream 9000 is about the same speed as the VarioStream 7650. I know these machines are more complementary than actually competitive, but how do you see the market shifting to support the mix of capabilities on these different machines? Do you envision companies having both, or do the different product lines really serve different types of companies? GB: It really is about the applications and I think there are two distinct approaches in the market. If the future direction or current requirement calls for color customers will need one type of machine. The path to color using a VarioStream 9000-family machine is one in which they can protect their investment and do more with a single device. On the other hand, if they need a product with a choice of multiple configurations that include black-only simplex, highlight color, duplex printing, MICR toner, or triplex configurations, then the VarioStream 7000 family is better suited for their needs. There will probably be some customers that have both VarioStream 7000 and 9000 family products, but they will use them in very different ways. And the good news is they can come to Océ for state-of-the-art technology that isn't 10 to 20 years old. WTT: The new Océ VarioPrint 6160 and 6200 models seem to fill out that product family rather well. How does this mix of machines fit the needs of the market? GB: This is another example of a family approach to a product line. The Océ VarioPrint 6250 has had a tremendous impact on the market and is generating a great deal of interest. We've been able to leverage our technology advantage in the Océ VarioPrint 6250 with two lower speed versions that make the same type of digital duplex cut sheet performance accessible to a wider range of users in different speed bands. With the two additional models, we can respond to the market's need for monochrome printers in the lower speed ranges with the same advantages we brought to the high-speed end of the market. Even though there are plenty of machines with speeds of 105, 120, 155 or 180 ppm, they are all simplex printers that slow significantly when printing duplex. Just like the VarioPrint 6250, the VarioPrint 6160 and 6200 systems are designed from the ground up with Océ Gemini Instant Duplex technology to print duplex output in a single pass. The new devices print at 160 and 200 duplex sheets per minute, are competitively priced, and will be highly attractive to all types of print providers who are concerned with productivity. The path to color using a VarioStream 9000-family machine is one in which they can protect their investment and do more with a single device. WTT: I've been hearing that the VarioPrint 6250 has been selling well. I know you can't divulge unit sales but can you tell me what kinds of companies are buying it and what types of applications the machines are being used for? GB: The VarioPrint 6250 has been selling extremely well across multiple environments. We're seeing it in several book manufacturing operations, where its print quality and inline finishing are proving to be a big asset, but also in healthcare printing lightweight specialty folded information notes that go into prescriptions. And we're seeing it in transactional service bureaus printing typical duplex applications like bills and statements. The majority of these documents are duplex printed and the productivity gains these customers are seeing are important to them. Let me add that here at the show we'll have an unwinder that extends run time and reduces operator intervention. We expect this to be an important addition for book manufacturing customers looking for even greater productivity. Even with the unwinder in place you can still program picks from any of the paper drawers, so you aren't limited to just the type of paper on the roll. WTT: The new Océ CS 620 and CS 650 Pro color printers must be a welcome addition to the line-up. They are very affordable and their color looks great. But it would seem that they compete with the CPS 800 and 900 models. Can you talk about how these different machines fit into the model line up? GB: Certainly they could go into a number of the same environments, especially CRDs and digital print centers, but which machines a particular company chooses--and they could feasibly use both types of machine--is really driven by the customer's applications. The Océ CPS 800 and 900 have been noted by industry organizations that evaluate equipment as delivering excellent color consistency, not only from run to run but from machine to machine. They can handle a wide range of media and don't slow down when running heavier substrates. This is important for a lot of our customers. The CS 620 and 650 Pro models come to us through an OEM arrangement, are much faster, are designed for high productivity, are cost competitive, modular, have integrated finishing, and a very attractive TCO. But they don't deliver the same breadth of color consistency or media handling capabilities that the CPS 800 and CPS 900 systems do. It's all about being able to offer customers different machines to match different application requirements. WTT: What else from Océ should customers look for at On Demand? GB: The other day I was with a customer who he told me he didn't realize the range of equipment and software we offered. I'd like people who come to On Demand to spend time in our booth and get a sense of Océ's breadth and depth as a technology provider in many different areas. People have historically known Océ as a leader in continuous feed printing, or in wide format. Now they should get to know us and see what we have to offer in cut-sheet, in color, and in the very wide range of open, integrated software options and professional services that we offer. WTT: Any teasers about what people can look forward to at Graph Expo? GB: Just this. Continue to look for more innovation and additional improvements in hardware and software. Stay tuned-- there's a lot more to come. Please offer your feedback to Noel. He can be reached at [email protected]