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Trade Comment

Main Growth Areas

Looking ahead to 2018, Jo Golding asks: “What are the main growth areas for your customers and how can your products help them enter these new markets?”

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Simon Pilkington, director, Fedrigoni UK

Enhance your product

More of our customers are looking for ways to grow their margins and are searching for opportunities to improve their results.

One way of being able to gain better returns on the work they produce is to think outside the commodity products and offer their customers something different by using speciality materials.

By choosing to use a paper product that enhances the look and feel of the brochure or booklet, box or carton, not only improves the margin opportunity but also helps to provide a finished item, giving more punch to the audience and helping to improve the returns for the customer. This will more often than not encourage the end user or customer to return to that printer or manufacturer thus creating more loyalty and reducing the focus on the price.

Producing well-designed and manufactured products helps those printers and designers to stand out in what is a crowded market

Additionally, producing well-designed and manufactured products helps those printers and designers to stand out in what is a crowded market. Working with speciality manufacturers like Fedrigoni will help them to be different and we believe will enhance both their image and reputation.

Most people appreciate attractive and classy looking goods and products, and by using qualities such as Ispira or Materica, Xper or Imitlin, they will achieve something unique. We will continue our work within the UK print and designer customer base to deliver this message and help those that choose to work with us and our materials.

Automation in action

Stuart Bamford, national sales manager, post-press division, Friedheim International

Speaking at length to our customers, we find that keeping processes in-house—laminating and automation in particular—has become quite a motivation. They prefer to be more in control of their product and thus have started bringing some finishing processes (that they can economically do) in-house. We currently have the right product ranges in our arsenal to meet market demands, especially with our manufacturer’s efforts in research and development; they strive to push their technology further so that the customers are always getting the most out of their cash.

We have seen companies being interested in bringing certain key finishing processes in-house leading to a corresponding increase in sales—especially of our laminator range in recent months.  We are projecting growth not just in our entry-level Amiga but also the more resilient and commercially-focused Delta series of thermal laminators.

We have seen companies being interested in bringing certain key finishing processes in-house leading to a corresponding increase in sales

We have also seen a massive uptick in request for demonstrations for our Over Toner Foiling (OTF) process, especially on the Amiga 52. It looks like customers really love to see their print stand out and pop out of the page with some of the foils we can supply. Another sector we are seeing a lot of action in is automation in folding. So much so that MBO has designed its latest K80 combination folder with this in mind. They have added so much automation that makeready times have been drastically reduced. Our customers love this as it means running more jobs in the same amount of time.

Currently we already have folding machinery that can run at the same speed as the fastest offset presses. If the presses get even faster as KBA has done at 21,000sph then we must find an even faster solution than the current 18,000sph—which I have no doubt MBO has already on the drawing board—we will just have to wait and see.
In the next few years I believe we will see more automation and robotics in the factories to reduce labour costs.

Potential of print

Steve Andrew, regional director, Xeretec
The commercial print industry has changed so much in recent years. Working with your local printer to get the best value for your business and appreciating the services they provide you these days is no longer enough. We are seeing a real shift to more sustainable value-added solutions within packaging, direct mail, and multi-channel web-to-print with print companies now becoming more of a marketing solutions provider.

Here at Xeretec, we are leading from the front. We offer a full portfolio of production print technology and solutions for all the aforementioned markets and are really making a difference to our clients’ ability to capture print applications which have sustainable ROI. We are really excited about 2018 and the solid business opportunities it offers. Our optimism is founded on the many customers who developed their core offerings in digital packaging, direct mail, and short-run personalised digital solutions.

Customers are telling us that they anticipate a demand for packaging solutions and multi-channel digital marketing, as their clients now view print as a key business enabler. In retail everything is about brand and brand marketers are increasingly looking for partners to help them create and target specific markets with constant messaging and budgets to suit.

Customers are telling us that they anticipate a demand for packaging solutions and multi-channel digital marketing

With respect to digital packaging, given that brand owners are looking to offer variations of their packaging or personalised, we can offer our customers the flexibility needed to address these requirements, with Xerox’s depth of product in high-end cut sheet and inkjet technologies, there has never been a better time to enhance your offering to the market.

On the relentless social media boom, we see the opportunities this has opened up for print, due to the multichannel, multi-platform approach to engaging with customers, ranging from websites, social media, retail stores, mail order catalogues, direct mail, and mobile. We are confident that 2018 presents a lot of opportunity and that Xeretec has the right technology, the right solutions, and the right level of support to help new and existing customers maximise their potential.

Ecological benefits

Steve Collins, product marketing and channel manager, Agfa Graphics

Agfa Graphics is a leading supplier to the printing industry, offering innovative and reliable solutions. Looking ahead to 2018, we see the main growth areas to be very much focused on developments in the areas of computer-to-plate systems and digital offset plates, offering printing companies major benefits in terms of ecology, economy, and extra convenience with our ECO³ products.

We also envisage steps forward in workflow automation, cloud operation, colour management, and workflow optimisation software with our Apogee for pre-press, Asanti for wide-format, and Arkitex for newspapers. These three software solutions will continue to offer customers more efficient, cost-effective ways of increasing productivity and creating new revenue streams.

For the newspaper sector, Agfa Graphics will endeavour to deliver product innovation from our research and development investment program to allow our customers to be at the leading edge of technology and to maintain Agfa’s position as Europe’s leading plate, computer-to-plate, and workflow supplier.

Alongside our pre-press and newspaper solutions, we see major opportunities in the ongoing developments of our wide-format equipment, inks, and media. Agfa Graphics is unique as a major supplier to offer sign and display printing companies with a complete range of highly productive and versatile wide-format inkjet printers with dedicated inks made by Agfa, workflow software solutions, cutting machines, and inkjet media. Add all of these products with a dedicated service and support organisation with finance and we truly offer the complete one-stop-shop.

We see major opportunities in the ongoing developments of our wide-format equipment, inks, and media

Another main focus for 2018 for wide-format is the addition of automation, especially at the high end of our product assortment. The Jeti Tauro H2500LED 2.5m wide hybrid UV press allowing customers to grow their business with the ability to integrate automatic loading and unloading.

In addition to the high end, Agfa will continue to show the way forward with the latest UV wide-format technology incorporating the very latest print heads and LED curing lamps throughout the Anapurna and Jeti product portfolio.

Finally, Agfa Graphics is also very active in developing high-performance inkjet inks and fluids for various industrial inkjet printing systems and applications, enabling industrial manufacturers to integrate print into their existing production processes.

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