HP Printing Reinvented Event – 8th March 2016

Andy Carroll
 Mar 11, 2016

This week saw HP host a large event in Lisbon, Portugal to announce their Spring 2016 product launches, themed around “reinvention”.
The primary focus of the event was the launch of the PageWide Business brand within their office lineup, but there were also significant updates announced for the OfficeJet Pro range, along with further refreshes of their LaserJet line, with more devices based upon the JetIntelligence engines that made their debut last year.

3-HP PageWide Enterprise Color Flow MFP 586z Printer

The HP PageWide Enterprise Color Flow MFP 586 (Image courtesy of HP Inc)

Whilst the OfficeJet ProX/EnterpriseX range shared the same printhead technology used in HP’s high speed Web Press devices, it now also shares the same branding. HP PageWide Business devices build on the platform established by the X range, but improvements to the ink formulation have allowed both higher speeds (now up to 75ppm) and increased page yields (up to 20,000 pages from a black cartridge). In addition the PageWide Enterprise range now shares the same security features that were introduced on the LaserJet Enterprise devices last year, so features like SureStart and whitelisting are now available to customers no matter which printing technology they choose to employ. The PageWide Business portfolio is expanded further still by the addition of specific products designed for managed environments, which employ cartridges that are both unique to the managed products and offer even higher page yields. It is expected that the use of derivative products for managed environments will be an increasingly common strategy, as it allows the channel more flexibility when costing out managed contract.
The next stage of the PageWide platform was also mentioned, with a very brief teaser of an A3 device offered only as “coming in 2017”.

The introduction of PageWide could have threatened to overshadow the long standing OfficeJet Pro range, but that has also received a significant refresh, with some significant improvements clearly inspired by developments made in the LaserJet family.

2-HP OfficeJet Pro 8740 All-in-One Printer

HP OfficeJet Pro 8740 (Image courtesy of HP Inc)

The paper path has been tuned so that two pages can be handled simultaneously, allowing for duplex speeds that get close to simplex, especially when printing longer documents. Single sided pages now also exit the device face down, and collect on an contained paper tray, as opposed to hanging outside the main unit as has been the case for most previous desktop inkjet devices. The input tray has been integrated more closely within the device body, aimed at reducing the risk of parts being exposed to damage under daily exposure to bumps and knocks, and supports up to legal sized paper.

The OfficeJet Pro 8730 also has the dual scanning heads present in more recent Laserjet MFPs, which allow for single pass scanning of both sides of a page, and also gains the option for an additional paper tray to double the input capacity. Finally, the user interface is presented on a much larger screen (5 inches) and features swipe and tap functionality that should be intuitive to smartphone and tablet users. The overall effect is that the newer OfficeJet Pro devices present a more robust appearance, with design cues that appear to make it less distinguishable from laser devices.

In his introduction, David Ryan described the current portfolio as HP’s “best lineup in decades” and it’s easy to see why he holds that view. The last 12 months has seen some real innovation from HP on areas such as security and energy consumption, which play well in an Enterprise environment , but equally on user facing improvements like first page out times, duplexing speeds and single pass scanning. In a highly commoditized category these are real areas of potential differentiation from other OEMs, and with A3 devices now confirmed as part of next years plans it gives other industry players a lot to think about. HP may not have reinvented printing per se, but they may well have reinvigorated their position in the category.

Remanexpo 2016

Andy Carroll
 Feb 18, 2016

Between January 30th- February 2nd the aftermarket industry came together again as part of the annual PaperWorld trade show in Frankfurt.  Hosted for the second consecutive year in Hall 6.0, this years Remanexpo show saw a noticeable shift in the mix of exhibitors, with the larger domestic European remanufacturers taking a much reduced share of the floor space, with brands such as Clover and DCI returning with a smaller footprint focused on interacting with existing customers.  Indeed some of the previous years largest exhibitors, such as KMP and Armor, decided against exhibiting but were present to take advantage of the newly introduced “Business Lounge” facility, which offered dedicated meeting rooms on the show floor to cater to the evolving needs to both exhibitors and attendees, therefore allowing industry players to meet with their customers without having to invest quite so much in their own stand presence.
However, whilst some vendors had reduced their footprint this gave the opportunity for others to become more prominent, particularly domestic German brands such as Pedro Scholler Printservice and WTA, who received the award for Remanufacturer of the Year during the show.

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Ninestar’s stand was indicative of the trend for prioritising meeting space over product display.

One common theme across the majority of stands at the show though was how little actual product was on display, reinforcing the trend that many vendors see the show primarily as a venue for cementing business relationships with existing customers rather than generating significant new opportunities.  In fact even the leading Asian brands such as Ninestar and Print-Rite had a much smaller share of their stands dedicated to showcasing their cartridges, with meeting space the clear priority. Perhaps as a result of this trend, or as a consequence of the hard work the industry has put in over recent years to promote respect for intellectual property, there was only a single incident involving German authorities seizing potentially infringing products.

Evolution was also a key theme across much of the event, with signs that the aftermarket is increasingly looking towards opportunities outside of the printer & copier market in order to maintain or grow their businesses.  The trend was most evident through the increased presence of 3D printing devices on display, which themselves continue to evolve in capability.  Print-Rite had first shown off their own 3D printers at last years show, but their ‘Colido’ range has already developed substantially since then to include more than five distinct models, from entry level through to industrial prototyping, and even a 3D printing pen.

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The Polaroid branded 3D Printer produced by EBP

However, perhaps the most impressive display of 3D print came via Environmental Business Products (EBP), a UK based inkjet remanufacturer, who have seen their traditional market begin to shrink as a result of the decline in the consumer inkjet category.  EBP have taken an intelligent approach to 3D print, developing the hardware in house but choosing to licence the Polaroid brand in order to give their products a recognizable name around which they can go to market.
Large brand names have been absent, to date, from the consumer/prosumer end of the emerging 3D print market, and EBP’s approach could help the market begin to reach a more mainstream audience. In addition to their branding strategy EBP have also been innovative their consumables offering, with a one time use sheet on the print area allowing for much easier removal of the final printed structure, and also the ability to print using both PLA and a wood based material.

Features such as a Wi-Fi enabled camera, SD card support and an easy to use print interface also contribute towards presenting a more consumer focused product, and while the size of the unit, and it’s initial price point, will unlikely allow for dramatic uptake in the home environment, it could provide an example for the wider industry of what is required to reach a larger audience.

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Apex are looking towards the smart home as the next application for their chip technology

The Internet of Things (IOT) could also be a target for some parts of the imaging aftermarket. Apex and Static Control held a joint stand for the first time, although still very much maintaining the presence of both brands individually.  Apex’s focus on their chip technology was no longer limited to applications in printer cartridges, with smart home devices such as light bulbs, door locks and environmental controls looking like a major area of potential expansion for the company.

The knowledge and expertise built up by the aftermarket, as a result of trying to keep pace with the technological innovations employed by the OEMs to restrict third party cartridge use, clearly now has applications that are much wider than the printer consumables market.

Overall the feedback from those attending the show was heavily positive, something that hadn’t necessarily been the case in recent years, and it is clear that, much like its participants, the show itself is evolving to meet the changing demands of its user base. It will be interesting to see to what extent wider opportunities take a share of focus as complimentary markets emerge, and whether that will create gaps within the printer aftermarket for other players to exploit.

 

Focus on Europe 2013 Conference

Andy Carroll
 Jul 9, 2013

Attendance at The Recycler’s annual Focus on Europe conference continues to strengthen,  perhaps a reflection of the remanufacturing industry becoming more tightly knitted in  the face of increasing business pressures .  This year saw around 115 delegates eager to explore networking opportunities, share their experiences and discuss the challenges the industry faces.  A year on from a warm and sunny Nice, Europe’s remanufacturing community gathered once again, this time in an even warmer Vienna.  However, the hottest topic for the industry continues to be impact of “clone” cartridges, which has dominated many of the discussions in previous years and was equally as prevalent this time around.

Colin Davison, from Triton Engineering, gave some valuable insight into the latest pressures impacting on the industry in Zhuhai, with enforced wage rises and the seasonal labour impact of the Chinese New Year contributing towards the closure of a number of cartridge manufacturing facilities in the area in recent months.  However, while a reduction in the number of facilities potentially supplying the markets with low cost clone products will likely be welcomed by domestic remanufacturers, MSE’s Luke Goldberg suggested that, in some markets, the damage may have already been done, with the number of local remanufacturers having contracted significantly over the past decade.  On a more positive note Luke’s colleague, Mark Dawson, was eager to remind attendees about the values upon which the remanufacturing industry was founded, and additionally that they should remember that the majority of end users still decide to purchase OEM supplies, so a quality product can still compete without having to focus entirely on lowering prices.

In addition to the clone discussions, there were also a number of sessions which informed the audience about new standards and legal requirements that the industry need to consider.  Of primary interest was the session relating to the new ISO 29142 standard, which relates to cartridge information, such as whether it is an Original or Non-Original cartridge and environmental factors like hazardous substances contained inside and applicable collection programs.  It was clear from the presentation that the standard is still very much a work in progress, and is a framework that will continue to be built upon in the future.
Of more immediate importance to the industry are the implications of the EU REACH legislation, which deals with chemical substances such as those contained in toner cartridges.  Failure to comply with the REACH legislation can result in criminal prosecution, so remanufacturers should ensure that their toner power supplier has registered with the EU and has documentation to support its compliance.  The REACH directive represents another area where clone cartridges might potentially be exposed, as resellers of clones will need to ensure that the chemicals inside meet the legal requirements of REACH.  Infringing upon OEM patents exposes resellers to civil litigation but, with the possibility of a jail sentence, the penalties of breaching REACH could be much more severe.

This years conference provided a good balance between keeping the audience informed about important wider issues and providing a forum for attendees to discuss their experiences of the last 12 months and look for partnerships that would drive future business.  When the industry next meets, at Remanexpo in January 2014, it will be a barometer of whether the impact of clones has peaked and whether the remanufacturers have begun to focus on the 75% of the consumables market that is still going to the OEMs.

Remanexpo 2013

Andy Carroll
 Feb 12, 2013

Trade shows as a whole are under great pressure to remain relevant so it was no great surprise that visitor numbers to this year’s Paperworld show in Frankfurt were down slightly on last year.  However, unlike the recent spate of withdrawals from IPEX, there were a number of positive signs at Remanexpo this year, with brands such as Clover, Static Control and Pelikan present again, boosting the visibility of the large remanufacturers, and while there were still plenty of Chinese exhibitors, the show felt more balanced in favour of local brands than last year.

Clover returned to the show on the back of two recent acquisitions in the German market (K&U/Collecture and Dematec), which has given them a strong base on which to build a presence in Europe’s largest market.
Pelikan came to the show in the guise of a new brand, Prime Printing Technologies, which is targeted at direct customers who want high quality but don’t necessarily require the level of support usually associated with the Pelikan brand.

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