Reprographics shops have noticed significant changes in the way they do business. Technological improvements have assisted print service providers in improving productivity, increasing profitability, and reaching out to new clients.
“There have been many trends affecting the architectural, engineering, and construction industry and therefore the reprographics market,” says Alex Monino, strategic marketing manager at Designjet Business, HP. “I would specifically like to highlight two trends: There has been a decline in printing volumes at reprographics companies due to the construction industry slowdown; the decentralization of printing, which means that many customers, given the lower volumes, are now printing in-house; and the increased use of digital formats.
“The other key trend is the use of color. There are studies that demonstrate that the use of color drives tremendous savings for construction projects, as it eliminates mistakes and improves efficiency. Color printing also enables the production of complex layouts like those generated by BIM software and red-lined plots created by collaborating teams.”
Monino adds: “From a technology point of view, the most relevant changes I have seen include an increase in the productivity of large-format color production printers. While we have seen small changes in the productivity of purely black-and-white workflows, technical color production printers based on inkjet technology have had significant improvements in terms of printing speed and workflow efficiency. Another technology trend is an increase in the sharing and distribution of large-format plans as the AEC community becomes increasingly mobile and globalized, leading to an uptick in the use of tools like plan rooms to distribute printing files.”
Bryan Batelli, product manager, Wide Format at Ricoh Americas Corp. believes that a great deal of the shift in the reprographics industry is focused on the change in workflow. “The devices are not just a copier or a printer or a scanner or even all three but they are now considered more of value-added components to the customer’s work flow,” says Batelli. “Customers want more and want the devices to work like all the multi-function products they have in their environment.”
“The downturn in the economy and specifically the construction sector has had significant impact on the industry,” says Andrew Vecci, director, business development, Wide Format Printing Systems division of Océ North America. “Coinciding with this, we have seen an accelerated trend from centralized to decentralized printing. Consequently, this increased need for prints at the point of use has spurred an increase in the requirement for reliable and easy-to-use wide-format systems that are designed for walk-up users rather than for a dedicated central operator. Essentially, this has driven a shift in demand from high-volume production machines to lower volume multifunction network devices.
“Also, as users have brought the printing, copying, and scanning functions closer to the point of need in their document workflow, they have recognized the value of adopting color into their output. This has meant increased demand for not only color scan-to-file requirements to better capture information for both collaborative and archival digital workflows, but also for color printing capability to enhance clarity of information and reduce mistakes.”
Shifting Customer Base
Many economic factors have caused many print service providers to look at other options when it comes to keeping their shops up and running. Like many PSPs, Paul Talbot, vice president of business development at PacBlue has noticed a significant change caused by the real estate crash. The shift has changed PacBlue’s focus from reprographics to other areas. Although PacBlue still has its eye on the real estate market, it has also begun to look elsewhere for its bread and butter.