Many suppliers, including us, work hand-in-hand with commercial printers to do business development type activities. We’ll go out and conduct seminars for the commercial printer’s sales organization. We’ll work with the operators in that commercial print environment, relative to application specific needs that they may have. If that commercial printer buys a product, he can also acquire intellectual property and knowledge from the manufacturer to help them build their business and grow their business.
So it’s not just an equipment sale to a commercial printer and then you walk away. The commercial printer will continue to be successful as they continue to work with the manufacturer to express what their needs are, and to actually have a partnership with that manufacturer. That’s not limited to the commercial printer, but we find that there is a need out there to work with the commercial printer to help them realize the potential of the investment that they’ve made into our equipment.
Q: Do you see any of your customers running monochrome jobs on color machines? If so, what are the economies of scale involved in this practice?
A: The economies of scale are somewhat debatable. One of the reasons you would do that is you may have a select amount of monochrome work, but you don’t have enough of that monochrome work to support a single monochrome device. So you end up using your color device to produce monochrome. Historically, it hasn’t been the most cost effective way to do it. I think that decision point is based on volume and the amount of monochrome need you have versus color need.
Many of us produce both color presses and black-and-white presses, and all of our products—ours and our competitors’—can do either color or monochrome. But it’s really a choice around the workflow. What is the work coming in? What is your anticipated need for monochrome? Do you have the volume to support a monochrome device? And conversely, do you have the volume to support a color device? I’ve seen situations where an environment might be heavy on monochrome equipment and they have to go outside to have their color work done. It’s really a matter of the type of work that’s coming into these shops and the volume of that work.
If you have enough monochrome work, then run it on a monochrome device. Why invest in that color device to run monochrome on it, because traditionally, the color device is—at least from a capital acquisition standpoint—usually more expensive than a monochrome device. And traditionally the click charges have been higher as well.
Q: What should printers know about the new generation of monochrome digital devices that they may not be aware of?
Collectively, the industry has made significant inroads in speed, in reliability, as well as image quality. Those are the types of things that many of us, as manufacturers of this type of equipment, taut on our products. They’re reliable, they’re truly workhorses. They’re fast and very productive, and they also have outstanding image quality. They offer very effective cost per image as well.
There are opportunities in the marketplace today to do things differently, to do things more effectively, to look at consolidation of floor space, and to truly look at the total cost of ownership of digital devices. You know, weigh in the factors of the skill set necessary to run the equipment. Weigh in the factor of the amount of floor space these take up. Weigh in the factors of variability of output that you can achieve through a high speed digital monochrome press. Those are the types of things that, as a business person looks to make a capital acquisition, they need to consider.
Also, as importantly, they need to look at the support from the manufacturer or the vendor they purchase the product from because that is an integral part of the solution set that’s offered. And that support is not defined only as “screwdriver time.” That support is described as prepress, working with the printer to understand that they have the appropriate workflow, and to accommodate existing workflows in a printing environment, as well as to make sure that the equipment is maintained and runs as reliably as it is capable of running. So there’s a great deal of importance in the vendor that you pick and it’s very important to look at their pre-, current, and post sale support collectively.