In reality, printers and copiers may, in fact, be built just as well as a digital press. A quick look into the rated duty cycles of the various digital presses would show a wide range. And what about the continuous feed devices? They are much more press like, yet few, if any, are referred to as digital presses.
Q: Most quick and small commercial printers are running hybrid digital/offset workflows. What criteria should they consider when deciding whether a monochrome job should be sent to a press or a digital output device?
A: Basically, you should process the job based upon the particular variables at play. Most printers know their costs. If they don’t, they should start there. Then you start factoring in the other variables: time to produce, type of substrate, quality, type of piece, finishing requirements, customer preference, other jobs in the queue, when is it due, how is the copy delivered, etc, etc.
In general, processing of digital files is less labor intensive than offset, as well as the production of the sheet. If offset workflows were the most cost effective method, we wouldn’t see nearly as much migration to digital as is currently being experienced by the industry. The fact that we are seeing the shift of work from offset to digital supports the conclusion that digital is more profitable.
Q: Are your customers seeing growth in the demand for digital monochrome jobs or are they doing different kinds of jobs than they’ve done in the past?
A: It is still anticipated that the growth will continue in color and monochrome will basically be flat. However, due to the tough economic times, there appears to be a shift away from color to the use of monochrome, especially for non-critical documents.
Customer centric documents continue to be done in color. One area of growth is personalization jobs—jobs that relate to the recipient on a personal basis.
Q: With so many MFPs and digital devices placed in offices, how can print service providers differentiate their services to continue receiving monochrome jobs?
A: It could be level of service, personal service, cost, flexibility, hours of operation, ease of use. The list goes on forever. If you don’t differentiate yourself, you get lumped into the generic vendor pool, where price is king.
My advice would be to gather the entire company together and ask the question: What makes us special? Why would someone want to purchase from me, versus the other guy? It needs to be an honest, non-subjective dialogue. The answers to those questions provide the foundation for crafting your value proposition.
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: Generally, it’s been the cost of the toner that’s been the determining factor. In the past, the monochrome devices could offer toner at significantly less cost than black on color devices. That trend is starting to change. Some of the new color pricing models have narrowed the difference. However, you also have to look at the duty cycle, speed, etc., of the color equipment. Sometimes it’ll be less expensive to purchase and use a monochrome device in addition to your color device, than purchasing a large color device. For me, I still tend to like having both a monochrome and a color device. It provides me more flexibility to meet the needs of the next customer that walks through the door.
Q: What should printers know about the new generation of monochrome digital devices that they may not be aware of?
A: Monochrome devices will continue to increase speeds and duty cycles. Offerings of inline finishing will continue to increase as they provide better economies on a personnel basis (i.e.: more production from an individual). Traditional offline binding (e.g.: perfect binding) has now been brought inline, and is offered at very attractive prices in comparison to their predecessors. Handling a wider range of substrates will also increase.
Océ North America
Eric De Goeijen, Production Printing Systems Division, Vice President of Marketing
Q: There is a lot of confusing terminology describing digital monochrome output devices in the current marketplace. How do you differentiate between a printer or copier/printer and a digital press? (For example, is the determining factor the duty cycle, speed, resolution, service reliability, or something else entirely?) Or is it all just marketing semantics?