PrintNZ hosted a trip to the world’s premier printing event drupa 2008 in Dusseldorf, Germany recentlyThe huge exhibition attracted close to 400,000 visitors over 14 days to see 2000-plus exhibitors. PrintNZ chief executive Joan Grace came back with some interesting insights on what should – and should not – be taken from drupa for the New Zealand market.
“The world’s biggest and best printing equipment may have graced drupa 2008 but it was the niche products in the digital area that possibly have the most attraction for the NZ print market,” says Joan Grace.
The Kiwi contingent joined the throng in the Dusseldorf Fairgrounds and such was the scale of the event that five days were allocated to drupa to ensure the group had time to take in exhibits, which were grouped into the categories of:
Prepress and Premedia (Systems – Appliances - Software),
Printing (Machinery – Appliances - Accessories),
Bookbinding/Print finishing Machinery – Appliances – Accessories),
Paper converting/Package production (Machinery – Appliances – Accessories),
Materials - Services (including printing inks – printing matter),
and the broad category of services.
Joan says drupa confirmed its standing as the pinnacle of international print gatherings and was a fantastic opportunity to see the technology available for each of the diverse sectors of the industry. But she added that for most Kiwi printers and print suppliers, to gain optimal benefit would require focusing on exhibits in niche categories.
“You have to look at this vast array of exhibits and say “What does the scale of it mean for New Zealand?’
The truth is the size and capacity of the largest presses is outside what is needed in New Zealand.
“Nonetheless it is important for our printers to know what these presses offer in terms of performance and cost-effectiveness. These presses are being installed somewhere in the world and those plants are going to need work to feed them. We need to ensure they are not looking in our market for that work.
“It underlines why there is a need for PrintNZ’s ‘Keeping Print in New Zealand’ campaign.
We will continue that campaign and strengthen our efforts further.”
Joan said one area that New Zealand printers could learn of opportunities arising from drupa was in the
“New higher-performance digital colour presses were on exhibition and these may provide good solutions for
the local market. It is possible they may become replacements for some
of the older heavy metal presses of the past and could be a focus of future capital expenditure.
“In this regard drupa reinforced the message international print expert Frank Romano brought to New Zealand printers when he spoke in Auckland earlier this year. He pointed to digital being the future cornerstone of the print industry.”
Joan said she looked at the finishing exhibits for digital in more detail as PrintNZ continues to develop its training programmes for people working in the digital environment.
She says, “There appeared to be a greater choice of quality scaled-down digital finishing equipment on hand that would provide a range of solutions for the short-run work often associated with digital. The other more prevalent technology offer from the larger digital vendors is in-line finishing. The type of work and business model will determine which is chosen.”
In the more traditional print genres, sheet-fed offset quality moved up another notch at the show.
Exhibits featured in-line foiling and embossing – much of it geared towards high-class stand-out packaging or marketing collateral.
“The issues here are about finding the right market and customers to ensure you can get the return on investment,” said Joan.
Packaging was also to the fore, with issues being looked at including scale (a move towards bigger machines for bigger markets); authenticity (providing packaging that includes coding to certify authenticity of the product such as pharmaceuticals and software, where guarantees of bona fides are very necessary); security (linked to the point above, particularly for pharmaceuticals) and environmental balance (light-weighting versus transportability versus safety, and also the choice of materials such as plastic versus paper).
On the technical side, it was apparent JDF has come of age. Grace says, “Integrated MIS is a reality and a necessity for business. All major vendors advertise JDF-compliant software solutions that work with othersystems. MIS software developers provide independent software that works with all vendor equipment”.
“This is an area that will be further challenged by the database and the need for good data for some of the digital developments like transpromo.”
Transpromo turned out to be one of the “drupa in-words” this time, and refers to turning everyday items such as a personal bank statement, for example, into marketing retail space.
“My questions here are around whether printers will ensure they get the price from clients on this work that reflects the value added to their customers? This work is a long way from ’buying print’ and includes a lot of high-value IT and database work that will need to be developed and invested in and a good return sought.
“From a training perspective PrintNZ Training needs to look at how it can influence the work going on in the IT and Marketing departments of our tertiary education providers and make sure they are looking at this area.”
The other major buzzword of drupa, says Joan, was the green message. But she questions whether every person is on a common wavelength when talking about environmental initiatives.
“Every stand promoted green. There was green printing, green printers, green vendors, green customers…. But what does it really mean?
“While I acknowledge the imperative of minimising harm on the environment from what our industry does, I am coming to the view that the word green is marketing hype and is used in the same way as many used ‘quality’ in the past.
“As with quality there will be some businesses that back up the word with certification such as FSC, Enviromark and ISO 14001 but for many other it will be a tag-line in their promotion that in some ways will be justified (due to the changes in the practice of suppliers in the industry and local government requirements).
“In other ways however it will have little to do with real concrete efforts towards environmentally-sustainability practice. Time will tell.
“Watch this space as PrintNZ works with the industry to develop what is meant by ‘green’ in our industry in New Zealand. It is important our focus and meaning is clear.”
Anyone wishing to benefit from membership of PrintNZ can do so by visiting www.printnz.co.nz or calling 0800-654-455.