SPECIAL REPORT -- Web Offset - Weird Windings Of the Web
Get to Know the Five Ps
Horrors! Most management are mechanics, inwardly directed at their plants. Salespeople are necessary evils—ghouls really—sent out in derelict darkness to feed the presses. Why provide them with closed-loop systems of the demand-making sort? The answer has been foretold. It is the only sensible option, and the investment is in the 5Ps instead of the CIP3/4s: Positioning, packaging, promotion, placement and product development. The R&D is determining who and where those 2,000 demanders are, and what's lacking and needed.
The effort should be entrusted to a permanent outsider; a marketing consultant who doesn't need to see your plant nor eat off the floor. This also ensures objectivity, but beware: The conclusions and imperatives may well challenge internal dogma. Variable format flexible manufacturing and other such cherished notions may be misguided. A "zero-makeready" salesforce may be preferable to extra cylinders, and a gapless press schedule and an extended cutoff into the future.
One last thing haunts web printing: Paper is no longer a price "constant." In the new global order of competition, there are three "grades," and they aren't taught in estimating school. Each is physically indistinguishable, but economically "shades" apart: Legal, suspicious and illegal.
Is your paper a name brand from North America? If so, it's surely harvested legally, like tuna labeled dolphin-friendly. The Forestry Stewardship Council makes it so.
Brightness, caliper and weight aside, however, there are rolls and rolls of suspicious and downright illegal paper making the rounds to web printers who don't know, don't ask and don't care about anything other than the price.
Try $23/CWT versus $38/CWT. Same specs, different countries of origin. In Southeast Asia (which by the way exports both paper and tuna to the U.S.A.), illegal harvests and pulping of live timber under the pretext of post-Tsunami debris-removal, are attracting spot buying among less-than-scrupulous web printers. Meanwhile, suspicious harvests and conversions, as in Brazil and the Russian Federation, are providing bargains for "don't-ask, don't-tell" converters of envelopes, cut-sheets and the like.