WEB OFFSET REPORT -- Looking to Offset Losses
Majerczak: The strongest areas of development in the future will center around data and data management. This allows you to branch off into stronger personalization efforts and actually drill down into a customer base and create continuity-type products. Controlling the data will become a very important issue for the printer.
With the trend toward declining production resources within companies, the onus is falling much more onto the printer to become a complete production-type facility. That will also enhance business opportunities in our industry.
A broad equipment base and production versatility—although not always a strength for highly competitive type work—over a wide customer base can be very useful. The age of the huge order may be passing, with the market becoming more a factor of smaller, more specific, demographically focused orders. I think we can prepare for and change our equipment base over a period of time to be better prepared to address that demand.
Quadracci: Certainly, there are many opportunities beyond print. One of the major web printers is focusing on supply-chain management and has been very successful at it. Again, it's a matter of identifying your niche and exploiting it.
Keene: Packaging could be a good market, but there is a fairly high cost of entry there. It will take a pretty substantial investment—mostly for equipment, but you also need to acquire expertise—in order to become a strong packaging printer.
PI: In which area(s) do you see the greatest opportunity/need for process improvements: prepress, press or bindery? What, if any, investments in new equipment and technology will be needed to achieve greater efficiency?
Keene: This should be a customer-driven issue. We are investing in our mailing and fulfillment services, as well as some finishing capabilities, in response to customer demand.
Printers face a difficult decision in the question of whether to invest in new equipment to take advantage of increased productivity or try to make do with a current system and risk falling even further behind. I don't know if there is a clearly right choice. The decision is even tougher today because many of the advances that speed makeready and reduce waste are only available on new heatset web presses. In the past, systems could be retrofitted to older machines. The bottom line: you can only justify any equipment purchase if you can fill the additional capacity.