WEB OFFSET REPORT -- Looking to Offset Losses
Quadracci: The greatest area of opportunity is seamless integration of all print-production processes, across individual plants and across a network of plants. The ultimate goal is a continuous workflow, which will minimize errors and reduce cycle time. That time can be returned to the client for use in extending ad close dates, updating editorial, revising product offerings or price points, and more. Of course, those printers that choose to invest in new technology will have a decided advantage with regard to internal efficiencies.
Majerczak: The greatest need for production improvement is in the bindery. The bindery is cost-intensive, especially in commercial work. This is an area that needs new technological advancement. Bindery equipment has remained relatively stagnant for many years. Prepress is an ongoing situation and, today, the majority of printers have moved into direct-to-plate production and are on a digital path that will undergo continuous change. From the customer side, Web-enabled transfer of real-time data will quickly become a significant need.
Investments in material handling and ways of packing and finishing products will be very strong in the future. Robotics, from press to bindery and out the door, also have a bright future in this industry. The trend will be to move away from intense labor situations with a more technically oriented equipment base.
PI: Are you still finding labor to be a concern in your operations? If so, why is this problem so persistent? What more could the industry do to address this concern?
Majerczak: Labor is absolutely a problem today, especially lower skilled or unskilled labor. Given our bindery operations, this group represents a significant portion of our operation. We have gone to outsourcing, training, differential bonuses and other means to bring people into our bindery operations. The ability to maintain labor in our industry is even affecting us in the pressroom, with layoffs raising concerns about the long-term future. As an industry, we need to direct our efforts to changing that perspective.