Attendees Soak Up the Views
ORLANDO, FL—In a bid to inject new energy into the event and build attendance, the Vue/Point Conference was relocated to sunny Florida for its recent 2005 run. The results were mixed with regard to those goals, but attendees seemed pleased with the event overall.
Judging by a show of hands in the opening session, there clearly was a spike in the percentage of first-time attendees. Also, representation by printers—as opposed to vendors—was said to be up. However, the total attendee number held more or less steady from the 2004 event in Washington, DC.
There were several topics of discussion that became de facto themes for the conference. They kept popping up, even in sessions not directly related to those subjects.
Digital printing was one example, with an emphasis on variable data printing. University enrollment apparently has become the latest hot application, in part due to a case study released by Xerox.
A related market dynamic is increased focus on providing one-stop shopping for all of a client's needs. The term "corporate" printer has come into vogue as a designation for a shop that can meet all of the demands of a corporate client. This approach may seem at odds with the notion of developing niches, but proponents say they are doing that by targeting specific customer bases.
Which plays into the notion that printers need to understand their clients' businesses and offer marketing expertise. In the variable data arena, this is seen as key to developing programs rather than one-off projects. It also raises the perennial concern about whether conventional print salespeople are up to the challenge of selling new services.
Offering fulfillment services continues to be seen as a prime opportunity to expand beyond print, and is considered a virtual requirement for competing in the digital printing marketplace.
On the whole, the topics of computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) and JDF (Job Definition Format) were met with surprisingly muted responses. Silence largely replaced the skepticism and sometimes outright hostility expressed by many printers who attended the 2004 conference.
Mike Vinocur, the event's long-time manager, observes, "There clearly was a lot of discussion on management, sales and market positioning of print businesses, as printers seek to evolve and grow by taking advantage of some of the new opportunities available to them. Attendees seemed to be more focused on how they could use the tools and technology to advance their position in the market, increase market share, offer the sales staff greater opportunity and align internal processes, rather than concentrating on the technology itself."
Orlando is slated to again host the Vue/Point Conference in 2006. (www.gasc.org)
Road Show Maps Out Proofing Options
HANOVER PARK, IL—Enovation, a Fujifilm company, recently kicked off a "Power Proofing" national road show at its Midwest demo center. The program includes an overview presentation and live demonstrations of recommended equipment.
Among the featured proofing solutions are Fujifilm's FinalProof GxT digital halftone and PictroProof contone proofers, along with an ICS Remote Director monitor-based proofing system and an Epson 4000 ink-jet proofer driven by the GMG ColorProof RIP. During the inaugural presentation, special note was made of the Epson/GMG combination's ability to simulate spot colors and GMG's use of "device link"—rather than standard ICC—profiles for color matching.
The company is also touting installation of a dedicated wide-format ink-jet printer (not proofer) as a growth opportunity for commercial printers. To that end, it is showing a Mutoh Falcon II wide-format printer driven by an Onyx RIP in operation as part of the road show. The unit features a Captivair air filtration and humidity control system from PAT Technology Systems to improve the operating environment.
Upcoming road show stops are to include: Baltimore—June 9; Akron, OH—June 16; Pennsauken, NJ—June 23; and New York City—July 13. A second leg of the tour is planned for after the Print 05 & Converting 05 Show in Chicago in September.
Attendee registration and additional information can be found at www.powerproofing.com.
Compensation Study Focuses On Digital Print Sales
PITTSBURGH—A call for digital printing sales incentive plans and job descriptions has been issued by PIA/GATF's Digital Printing Council (DPC) and Human Relations Department. The information gathered is to become research material for a DPC study that will analyze effective compensation plan design and goals. The final report also will include samples of various types of incentive plans and job descriptions.
An earlier DPC research study, "Compensating Your Digital Team," found that digital printing companies generally fail to provide team compensation, and sales representatives are not being offered any real incentives to sell ancillary services.
"In order for printers to really take advantage of their digital print capabilities and drive their businesses, they need to ensure that their compensation philosophies directly support their business objectives and opportunities," asserts Jim Kyger, PIA/GATF's human resources director.
The 2004 study found digital printers' ancillary service revenue was significantly higher than that of non-digital companies, but most companies did not differentiate ancillary services in their commission rates, Kyger points out.
The new study is scheduled to be published in November. All DPC members will receive a copy of the final report, as will non-DPC companies that participate in the study.
To access the survey, visit www.gain.net/human_relations/digitalprintcall.html.
CIP4 and AdsML to Coordinate Efforts
DARMSTADT, GERMANY & ZURICH, SWITZERLAND—The AdsML Consortium, an international initiative to bring open standards for e-commerce to the advertising industry, and CIP4 (the International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress) have agreed to a formal demarcation between their standards development efforts for advertising e-commerce and the print advertising production workflow.
AdsML specifications will govern communications between the advertiser and the publisher, including the description of an ad's placement in the page layout of a print publication. CIP4's specifications, meanwhile, will govern the flow of information and materials related to the physical production and distribution of the publication.
CIP4 plans to add features to JDF 1.3 (the next version of the specification) that will facilitate advertising production, including the ability to track individual ads throughout the production process. (www.adsml.org/www.cip4.org)
MINNEAPOLIS—Flaire Print Communications has purchased a new chemistry-free CTP system from Agfa, including an Acento platesetter running Azura plates and Sublima enhanced screening. The printer participates in the Printing Industry of Minnesota's "Great Printers Environmental Initiative," which requires area printers to go beyond the minimum environment compliance regulations. (www.agfa.com)
WILLISTON, VT—KBA North America has logged a couple of installs of the 74 Karat digital offset press with in-line aqueous coater by shops seeking to boost the sheet size, quality and flexibility of their digital printing. On Demand Imaging in Portsmouth, NH, bills itself as a one-stop shop for printing, large-format production, scanning and finishing. Color K Graphics is a full-service commercial printer based in Miami that employs offset and digital press technology to produce short runs. (www.kba-usa.com)
MARIETTA, GA—Print1 Direct, a short-run digital printer, recently installed the Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) DirectPress 5634 DI system to increase efficiency and reduce turnaround time for its customers. The shop won four Best of Category and two Awards of Excellence for digital printing from the Printing Industry Association of Georgia in its 2004 printing contest. (www.kpgraphics.com)
KENNESAW, GA—According to Heidelberg USA, its PrintOpen software was judged to create the most accurate color profiles in colorimetric testing of nine applications. The study—titled "Measuring the Quality of ICC Profiles and Color Management Software"—was performed by Dr. Abhay Sharma, an associate professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Western Michigan University. (www.heidelberg.com)
CHICAGO—Polpress Inc. has purchased a Screen PlateRite 4100 thermal platesetter from Fuller Grafix, a graphic arts dealer. "Our quality, speed and productivity have increased more than I expected," comments Roman Majewski, company president. (www.screenusa.com)
NORWALK, CT—As part of its commitment to investing in the education of graphic arts students, Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) has donated a KPG Matchprint Professional Server proofing system to Central Missouri State University (CMSU). The goal is to help students gain experience with device calibration and color management. (www.kpgraphics.com)
DALLAS—Heidelberg has delivered its 1,000th Prosetter violet platesetter, a Prosetter 74 unit installed by Harper House. Offering creative services, photography, premedia and printing, Harper House bills itself as a cross-media service provider. (www.heidelberg.com)
BALTIMORE—Book manufacturer Victor Graphics has purchased a Xerox DocuColor 3535 printer/copier to produce four-color covers and inserts. It will be used in conjunction with the shop's Xerox DocuTech 120 black-and-white system and a new BQ-270 perfect binder from Standard Horizon. (www.xerox.com)