Category: Production

For workflow, to scale or not to scale? That is the question!

Pat McGrew
Jun 19, 2017

It’s time to ask the question that is often missed in discussions about workflow – is the current workflow scalable? Scalable isn’t only a question of getting bigger; it is also a question of complexity. If your workflow was built to handle one type of job, like books or bills or bingo cards, and today you are handling magazines, direct marketing mailers, and posters, there may be a mismatch between your work and your workflow.

The mismatches often begin with how jobs are sold and onboarded. A common change in sales is the addition of a web-to-print solution to open your doors to a wider audience. When that addition happens, your scale of operation generally changes. Instead of sales coming in via relationships with your sales people, who know your capabilities, there are jobs coming in from customers who may not have paid attention to your website, and may not have followed your instructions. While most web-to-print solutions allow for rules-based interrogation of the incoming job, in many cases, contrary to how the systems are intended to work, someone in the shop is assigned to look at the jobs and determine if they can move into production. When you think about scalability, the more jobs that come in through a web-to-print application that require physical review, the less scalable that process becomes.

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HP Inc. – Positioned for Growth

Jeff Hayes

HP Inc. held its Power of Print analyst briefing on June 15th at its headquarters in Palo Alto, CA to update the printing industry on its strategy and key initiatives. While there was essentially no new news, what was clear is that HP is building momentum as a leaner and more focused company nearly a year after its separation. Read more »

Beyond CMYK: The Digital Print Enhancement Opportunity

Jim Hamilton
May 30, 2017

I love print. I particularly love it when it knocks my socks off. I’m a fool for gloss varnishes, metallic foils, velvet finishes, neon colors, and lenticular images. You get the picture. I’m also a huge digital print advocate. Yet much of production color digital print is process color only. Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black are great, and they are perfect for a lot of work, but sometimes I yearn for more. Maybe it’s that I’ve been spoiled by all the fantastic capabilities of offset print.

CMYKplus collage

InfoTrends estimates that 30% of offset printed color pages have some type of enhancement beyond the four process colors. I often refer to this as “CMYK+.” CMYK+ may be a spot or flood coat, a Pantone color, a metallic gold or silver ink, opaque white, or a range of other value-add special effects. Sometimes print will even use a combination of two or more special effects. All in all, this amounts to more than a trillion color offset pages that have some type of an enhancement beyond process color in promotional document applications. How many digital pages have such special effects? Read more »

Why Was ESKOWorld 2017 Worth My Time?

Pat McGrew
May 25, 2017

Pat McGrew
Director, Production Workflow Services
Keypoint Intelligence

Most vendors have learned the value of user group meetings. They bring together their customers and their product teams, open the door to learn more about customer requirements, and build a sense of community that leads to customer loyalty. The team behind ESKOWorld, the North American user conference for users of ESKO (www.esko.com) packaging, printing and finishing solutions, accepted their mission and, with the help of their customer advisory council, created a well thought out agenda that addressed the needs of over 500 users and 100 brand owners and agencies.

One of the harder things to do at these conferences is to provide guidance on the product roadmaps. A company like Esko is managing more than a dozen products, each with enthusiastic customers looking for guidance, and a passionate product team wanting to share. At ESKOWorld the solution to sharing the roadmaps for the large product set came in two shots: an innovative set of short presentations by the product managers during the opening and dedicated roadmap sessions. For customers not familiar with the range of offerings, that overview from the product managers was an excellent way to bring everyone up to speed. Whether it was a 20year-old product like ArtiosCAD or a newer set of products like Studio or Keyshot, everyone gave you a reason to want to learn more. How can you resist wanting to know more about Studio, a product that allows you to see things that do not currently exist and to create variations before deciding on the final execution? Even the Automation Engine has had a makeover with a new browser-based user interface.

Another hard thing to program is the keynote, but this was not an issue. Dr. Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics brought one of the best overviews of the economics of the market we live in, with a good dose of which things to pay attention to and why. One of his more interesting points was that organizations must drive efficiencies to grow –a key element of the workflow story – but also that marketing is an essential element due to the competition.

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PROKOM in Vienna: The First Konica Minolta User Community Meeting

Jim Hamilton
May 22, 2017

On Thursday May 11th, around 150 Konica Minolta production print users gathered in Vienna for a day of presentations at the inaugural meeting of PROKOM, the Konica Minolta user community. Targeted at production users, PROKOM is part of a Konica Minolta customer-centric strategy intended to drive the move from analog to digital print processes. With the focus, at least at first, on users of cut-sheet light to mid-production color and black & white digital print, the opportunity for PROKOM is unlike many other user groups, which tend to focus on higher levels of production.

PROKOM logo

The journey toward PROKOM began over a decade ago when Konica Minolta began actively targeting users in production environments. A key date for this was drupa in 2004, Read more »

HP Announces 3D Printer Reseller Program

Jeff Hayes
May 9, 2017

HP made several announcements related to its 3D printing business at the Rapid + TCT 2017 show being held this week in Pittsburgh.

  • New HP 3D Printing reseller program with over 30 partners
  • Multi Jet Fusion installations at leading service bureaus
  • 3D Printing Reference & Experience Centers in the U.S. and Europe
  • Henkel to join the HP Open Materials Platform

HP_LOGO_CMYK_Large

HP 3D Printer Reseller Program

The most significant news is that HP is rolling out a new 3D printing reseller program. HP traditionally has sold most of its products through distribution, and it should come as no surprise that it plans to develop a global reseller network for its Multi Jet Fusion products. HP will be selling through a two-tier model of distributors and resellers in North America and Europe with some direct sales to very large customers with “transformative” projects.

HP is working with several of its key distributors for office equipment to carry the Multi Jet Fusion product line and related supplies and parts.

  • Synnex, based in Freemont, CA, is a $14B distributor that sells 30,000 technology products (active SKUs) to more than 20,000 resellers, system integrators, and retailers throughout the United States, Canada and Japan. HP is Synnex’s largest supplier. Synnex also carries 3D Systems printers.
  • Westcoast, based in Reading, UK, is a privately held IT distributor with turnover in excess of £1.6B and over 1,000 employees across multiple sites in the UK and Europe. The company primarily carries IT gear, printers, and supplies (ink, toner). While HP is one of Westcoast’s largest suppliers, the company also carries 3D printers from MakerBot.
  • Also International, based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, specializes in distributing OEM toner and ink cartridges to resellers, office supplies dealers, and retailers. The company claims to be the largest distributor of OEM supplies in Europe.

HP announced 32 authorized resellers across North America and Europe. Most of the resellers are VARs that are deeply focused on the engineering and manufacturing industries. The companies often carry other 3D printer lines (3D Systems and Markforged are most common), CAD and PLM software, and other specialty products and accessories. A few of the companies have an office equipment dealer heritage and have expanded into graphics and 3D printing applications. HP indicated that over 80% of the companies are entirely new to HP.

HP has been focusing on resellers that have service and support capabilities (a requirement) as well as market expertise, existing customers, and physical locations in target geographic areas. HP noted that unlike its open office printer reseller program, the 3D printer program is a “closed model” where resellers serve the installed base they create in terms of equipment, service, parts, and fusing agent.

HP Multi Jet Fusion Service Bureau Customers

Service bureaus provide a critical role in the evolving 3D printing industry as early adopters of technology with innovative business models. HP announced they have placed units with nine specialty service bureaus and large platform players including:

  • Forecast 3D
  • Proto Labs
  • SigmaDesign
  • Fast Radius
  • Go Proto
  • shapeways
  • ProtoCAM
  • Materialise
  • 3D Prod

HP Multi Jet Fusion Reference and Experience Centers

HP announced 11 locations in the U.S. and five locations in Europe where customers and prospects can see the HP Multi Jet Fusion devices in operation and test new 3D printing use-cases before purchasing equipment. These centers are primarily at HP reseller or service bureau locations.

Henkel Joins HP Open Materials Platform

Henkel Adhesive Technologies has joined the HP Open Materials and Applications Platform and will work with HP’s 3D materials lab in Corvallis, OR to develop customized, industry-specific solutions for HP Multi Jet Fusion customers. Henkel joins Arkema, BASF, Evonik, and Lehmann & Voss, to support HP’s platform for 3D printing materials and applications. Henkel has deep expertise in polyamide synthesis and formulation (the primary material used in HP 3D printers), and will be working to develop unique products that take advantage of the Multi Jet Fusion printing process.

Building Momentum

2017 is shaping up to be a critical year for HP and its 3D printer business. The company is actively shipping the Multi Fusion Jet 4200 and 3200 models in all major regions, has rolled out its reseller program in North America and Europe, has added some high profile corporate and service provider accounts, and has expanded its materials partner program.

While HP has extensive experience with the IT, office printer, and graphics reseller communities, it will take time for HP to build its 3D printer reseller base and deeply understand how to manage and drive this channel in terms of territories, market focus, selling model, sales training, promotional support, financing, field service, and other factors. The next key marker of progress will be HP’s rate of product placements and usage volumes over the next six to 12 months.

A New Entry in the Zone of Disruption: the Canon Océ VarioPrint i200

Jim Hamilton
Apr 20, 2017

Many of you will be familiar with the phrase “the Zone of Disruption.” InfoTrends has been using it to describe an interesting gap that has formed between two product classes: cut-sheet toner-based printers and roll-fed inkjet printing systems. The roll-fed inkjet models are extremely productive, but also carry with them a price tag of more than $1 million. The cut-sheet toner-based products are much more affordable, but typically don’t offer speeds much faster than 150 pages per minute. InfoTrends defined the Zone of Disruption as an opportunity for products with price points below $1 million, speed faster than most electrophotographic cut-sheet color printers, very competitive running costs, and production-oriented features (such as integrated finishing and advanced front ends). A handful of products have appeared in the Zone of Disruption over the past few years and this week a new one joined the fray: Canon’s Océ VarioPrint i200.

VarioPrint i-Series horizontal cropped

In most ways, the VarioPrint i200 is very much like the i300. It looks like it, has the same footprint, and virtually all of the same features. Two aspects differentiate the two products. The i200 runs at 194 letter size pages-per-minute (ppm) and the i300 runs at 294 ppm. There is also a significant price differential. Canon reports that the i200 is priced 20% below the i300. Although Canon did not announce pricing, InfoTrends expects that this would put the list price of the i200 at somewhere between $600,000 and $650,000. The i200 will be available in the U.S. in June through Canon Solutions America. The two products now form a product family that Canon is referring to as the Océ VarioPrint i-Series.

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Is it time for a Workflow Intervention?

Pat McGrew
Apr 17, 2017

Workflow ChaosBAs we come to the last few items in the Workflow Quiz it is time for some of the heavy lifting that comes with optimizing and right sizing tasks and processes in the workflow. Not everyone will be happy with the process because it uncovers their pet projects and sometimes lead to power plays that start with “this is how we have always done this job” and end with annoyed team members. Despite all of those risks, it is time to look at all of those places where it takes some type of manual intervention to get a job from start to finish.

Let’s start at the beginning. When you take on a job from a new customer, how much of the job setup requires a person talking to a person or a person talking with a group of people to get all of the specifications identified and coded into the system? Are there manual checklists sitting on a service representative’s desk in addition to what is in the system? Sticky notes on monitors in prepress and account management that detail what is missing in the job notes? If so, you have opportunities to optimise because all of those notes are taking time to manage!

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Geomarketing in your Workflow: Linking Seller to Buyer

Pat McGrew
Apr 13, 2017

When you look at the opportunities across the spectrum of marketing outlets the choices can be daunting. Which of the many channels should you use to communicate the value proposition of your product or service? There are hundreds of lines of blog content and millions of pages of guidance in books and magazine articles, and they all provide points to consider. What is missing in much of the guidance is a specific pointer to technologies that can help to change the marketing narrative.

One technology that is underused is geomarketing, the art and science of using location data in innovative ways. It can help to change the brand narrative by creating direct links between where the sellers of products and services can be found and the people who want to buy them. It can add valuable new revenue streams to the menu of services offered by marketing and print service providers. And while geomarketing techniques can work for any communication channel, marketing and  print service providers miss the opportunity to offer this valueable service.GeoServices - locr

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Key Take-Aways of Xploration 2017

David Stabel, Matt Swain and Pat McGrew

On March 28-30, Xplor International held its annual Xploration 2017 conference in Orlando, Florida, providing more than 60 educational sessions for vendors, service providers, enterprise attendees, and other industry experts from around the world.

xplor17

The educational sessions covered a broad range of customer communications management (CCM) and related topics including customer experience, workflow and automation, data management and compliance, e-presentment/payment technology and much more. This year, senior analysts from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends hosted multiple educational sessions, participated in several panel discussions, and hosted a special Industry Analyst Workshop. Here are our key takeaways from the conference.

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