Big Offset Press Manufacturer Moves Back into Digital – Océ and manroland Announce Worldwide Partnership

Ralf Schlozer
Dec 1, 2010

It was expected and it happened… but it was not Heidelberg who came out first announcing a return into digital. On the 1st of December 2010, Océ and manroland issued a press release announcing that they will be entering into a worldwide strategic alliance. Particularly the alliance will focus on inkjet-based digital printing solutions for the graphic arts industry. This alliance will come into effect at the beginning of 2011.

Jan Hol, Senior Vice President of Communication at Océ, commented that the alliance will comprise three main areas:
– Sales
– Sharing Expertise
– Development

Sales will encompass having the manroland sales organisation sell Océ’s inkjet web presses to its customers while also generating leads for the Océ sales organisation. Whether manroland will sell directly will depend on the comfort level of the local manroland sales force, which is being qualified at the moment. Thus far, manroland will focus on sales and possibly extend this to servicing the presses after a ramp-up phase. Océ is not planning to sell any manroland equipment.

Sharing expertise is targeted at end—customers, where Océ can bring expertise in digital print and manroland can bring expertise in conventional print to the table. Combined, the companies can give printers a more holistic outlook on the print market as offset and digital applications grow together. As the alliance is focussed on web-fed colour printers, investments are substantial and customers need to have a complete overview to see how both processes can complement each other. This will also facilitate shifts from analogue to digital volumes. Manroland will form a digital competence centre to build up and bundle the digital expertise.

In the end, the most remarkable point is the development area. With the recent introduction of the ColorStream 3500 (see blog post Océ announces ColorStream 3500), Océ launched its first internally-designed colour webfed inkjet system (as opposed to the JetStream models, which are OEMed from Miyakoshi). manroland is one of the leading manufacturers of web offset presses and is supplying some of the most advanced models in the market today. InfoTrends has noticed that in terms of paper handling and finishing, the web-fed inkjet printers are becoming increasingly similar to web offset presses (see blog post HP installs at Rotolito Lombarda) as paper handling and finishing requirements become ever more sophisticated. Following the strategic alliance, R&D personnel from Océ and manroland will explore joint development opportunities that will focus on finishing and logistics, but can extend to the whole paper transport. It turns out that Océ’s manufacturing and R&D team for Web-based products is based in Poing, while the manroland division for web offset is in close proximity (Augsburg).

InfoTrends will provide more details and discuss the strategic alliance in a separate report to be published in a few days.

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