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Better Business

A personal approach wins new ground for digital tech

Conventional wisdom has it that digital printing is best suited to short-run applications with very limited opportunities in packaging, which is mainly a business of very long runs.
But we have seen from the rapid ugrowth in digital label presses uthat brands do value the added umarketing opportunities that udigital brings. Maik Laubin, sales director for KBA’s Digital Solutions division, says that this also applies to the wider packaging sector, which is becoming more interested in digital printing for the advertisement opportunities. He adds: “That’s the main communication that brands have with their customers.”
There are some examples of personalisation for packaging, typically around online ordering of luxury goods, where the

Connecting paths of cooperation

There is no doubt that technology is helping companies to collaborate in ways that were unthinkable 20 years ago. The internet is of course the main reason for this – but advances in video technology, cloud computing, processing power, and so forth have led to new types of collaboration.

As Jason Oliver, head of digital at Heidelberg, explains, there is a lot of technology that helps to drive partnerships. “We’re using digital video and photography, and we’re sharing digital data to communicate

A kinder blue

 

One of the theories on the origins of life on earth is that of the ‘primordial soup’, which posits that chemicals dissolved in water when hit by ultra-violet (UV) radiation from the sun reacted together, creating life.

 

While not as profound as that, new water-based inks cured by UV may be a building block for inkjet’s evolution and expansion into new markets. 

 

The story so far

 

At Fespa 2015 last summer, water-based UV (WUV) technology was announced by inkjet equipment firm

Speed specialists supply the want-it-now generation

You could blame Amazon; its relentless focus on shortening delivery times infected the rest of high-street retail and ultimately spread further afield, including to print.

So, the causation of those same-day delivery demands seeping into your sales channels may well be the entrepreneurial mind of Jeff Bezos, founder of the online retail giant.
Yet that would be to simplify things in a rather complex area. In truth, there are multiple reasons why print production facilities are now geared up to

Ensure you reel in the perfect job candidate

According to ONS figures released in December 2015, the UK unemployment rate has fallen to 5.2% – its lowest level in a decade. Economic recovery has boosted confidence, encouraging business expansion.

 

While that is undoubtedly a good thing, the boom in hiring is leading to talent shortages. As Tom Hadley, director of policy at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation pointed out shortly before Christmas, “the challenge of ensuring that the demand for staff is met by the supply of

Setting up pay strategies for long-term love affairs

Salespeople are the beating heart of a business; without the revenue they generate no other parts of a business will function for very long. The question is, how best to incentivise sales to work well, individually and as a team?

Fiirst principles
The Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) suggests that any pay structure “should be carefully designed to support the business strategy of the organisation and to provide a clear and non-discriminatory framework for pay progression and

Calculating the costs of kit enlightenment

No one likes reading the manual. Whether it be electronics, toys or furniture, the huge accompanying instruction booklets are usually largely left untouched. And even when instructions are followed, as with certain flatpack furniture products, things often still go awry.

 

What you need is some hands-on training, a knowledgeable person to talk you through all aspects of the thing you have brought so you can maximise its potential. With small consumer electronics, like a new digital radio

Strategies to land the perfect catch

The question of how best to grow a business is asked again and again and again. Organic or acquisitive – either way the intended end-result is the same: the greater efficiencies and profitability that come through economies of scale and increased market clout.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with organic growth, it’s just that it takes time. It’s an option that Nick Dixon, director at Veriteva and a long-term buyer and seller of businesses in print, says firms should consider because “if

Make sure good customers want to keep coming back

On the high street – be it the virtual or physical version – customer loyalty is hard won. The big retailers pump great piles of cash into customer retention strategies because they know that the consumer has evolved into a fickle animal.

 

Where once customers might have only bought from one brand – and have defined themselves by that brand – or felt an allegiance to one store and the people in it, today the market has fragmented to the extent that ‘shopping around’ is now the

Skills schemes to attract bright young things

Whenever I thought of the print industry I pictured big warehouses printing stacks of newspapers: I guess I just thought of print as being quite old-fashioned,” recalls one of them.

Another admits unflatteringly “If I’m honest, with recent technology I was under the impression print was outdated”. Meanwhile a third rookie printer “knew the basics: requests come in, print goes out”.
All of them have now wised up to the reality of print in the here and now. And all of them did so by completing the

The first line of defence

 

Making the print is only ever part of the job of meeting the client’s need for a product to convey their messaging. It is usually necessary to finish the print to protect and/or enhance it, ensuring it looks the part and will continue to do so for its intended life.

 

Laminating, coating and mounting are the standard processes in the wide-format printer’s toolkit to do that; new technologies and market needs may offer opportunities to eliminate some processes and enhance

How to raise your profile or make an impression

Now that colour digital printing is ‘good enough’ for the sort of things most people want to do with it, attention is switching to the twiddly bits that catch the eye and add value to the print job.

Embellishment is the fashionable term. This means what used to be called special effects, such as spot gloss (or matt), texturing, embossing, metallic and other exotic finishes.
There has always been the option to add these with traditional analogue processes, but we’re now seeing more and more

Help your staff step up and take charge

When print was simpler, more muscular industry, stepping up to management from the printroom rarely caused an issue. Indeed, part of the role usually entailed staying in that print room: the majority of print businesses were – and still are – too small to have a manager stuck in a distant office all day, Jon Severs

 

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uut times have changed – print uis a service industry, the roles uin management have become umore complex and the laws uaround employment and  finance require a wealth of

A focus on the past helps build for the future

There’s no future in history, unlike heritage. And for one large-format printer what lies ahead has never been more promising for a service both high in impact and highly acclaimed.

 

For more than 125 years Leach has specialised in large-format graphics from its base in the North West. Only in recent years, however, has it honed its service to a core niche that focuses on heritage displays for museums and galleries.
Breaking into a niche is hard, making a name for it can be harder, then

Sloppy security is making printing companies targets for cyber criminals

At first glance commercial printers might think that the prospect of cyber criminals or hackers attempting to access their IT system is fairly remote. After all, hackers typically seem to go after large organisations like retailers, government departments and financial services companies where there are rich financial pickings.

 

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owever, in recent years as an increasing number of printers have expanded their service offering and branched out into things like credit card statement

You can’t put a price on the value of good relations

Price has long been king for print buyers and brand owners, particularly in recent years with budgets being squeezed to the limit. And with some printers falling over each other to offer the lowest price they can to secure work, many buyers do not have to look far for a competitive quote.

 

Price is important because everybody’s got a budget and that magic figure in mind that they want to pay, says independent print consultant Mark Francis.
But price is far from the be-all and end-all for

Take your print out of the gutter

In a market where even digital print is becoming commoditised, the once-humble bindery is emerging as the place to add value and hopefully restore profits. Short-run or one-off books and brochures can be given a bespoke treatment that customers will pay big money for, yet if you organise yourself the production costs are a fraction of that.

 

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ne route into big margins is open-flat books. Practically anyone can get spectacular margins for an investment that can be well under $15,409.5. If

Stand out from the crowd to up sales

Profit is sanity, turnover is vanity’. It may be an old cliché, but like many clichés there is a degree of truth attached to this statement – especially when you apply it to the printing industry.

 

For far too long far too many printers have chased turnover without giving enough consideration to what their margins are likely to be. Their main priority has been to keep their presses ticking over rather than allowing them to stand idle.
However, this approach has caused irreparable damage to

Find the savings at the end of the rainbow

As kids we hear the story that there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Pretty soon it sinks in that the end of a rainbow is an elusive and illusory thing. Indeed, colour itself can sometimes seem equally intangible, despite being a crucial aspect of print production. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

 

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  here are some surprisingly down-to-earth things that you can do to get in control of your colour reproduction.

One of the first things to do is to identify what the most

Low-cost solutions for colour consistency

Colour is a very subjective concept in that we each perceive light and colour in subtly different ways. But colour management is all about eradicating differences in the way that colours are printed.

 

Colour management means measuring targets, defining tolerances and profiling presses to achieve the same results time after time. However, it is often considered to be fiendishly difficult to carry out, something that is undeserved. As Paul Chamberlain, Heidelberg UK’s colour management

Nurture both personal and professional growth

James Heskett, highly respected professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, once memorably claimed that employees and managers alike look forward to performance appraisals in the same manner as they anticipate root canal dentistry. With dread, to put it bluntly.

 

It doesn’t need me to point out that such a state of affairs is a long way from ideal. Appraisals should actually be positive events, helpful for those sitting on either side of the desk. But enough companies have botched

Ensure you keep your staff out of the danger zone

 

On the whole, print has a reasonably good safety record. According to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) annual statistics, the printing sector has a lower accident rate than associated industries such as paper and board production.

 

 

Yet there is certainly no room for complacency. Sloppiness has potentially terrible ramifications. Several years ago, the HSE issued specific safety requirements for using hand-fed platen (die-cutting) machines following five fatal accidents around

Why Lord Sugar needs to sweeten his behaviour

Someone is not performing to an acceptable standard. They are for the chop and it’s down to you to administer the coup de grâce. Is this your Lord Sugar moment? Do you point the finger of doom with a theatrical flourish and, without compunction, utter the famous words, “you’re fired”?

 

Of course not. Taking this sort of action isn’t something any of us relish. The very idea may fill you with dread and in your anxiety to move on to more positive matters you may find yourself eager to get

Logistics and the just-in-time production model

An approach centred on timeliness, efficiency and frugality, its origins lie in the mid-20th century. But it remains relevant today because, after all, time is still money.

 
When you buy bananas, all you want is the fruit, not the skin. But you have to pay for the skin also. It is a waste. And you, the customer, should not have to pay for the waste.”

Shigeo Shingo, the Japanese industrial mastermind who helped pioneer the famed Toyota Production System and the just-in-time manufacturing

Set your pay schemes to suit your sales strategy

For years the tried and trusted method print bosses used to motivate their sales staff was the ‘carrot and stick’ approach: the promise of cold hard cash if certain performance-related targets were hit during a set period of time was a great motivational tool for sales animals, who also knew they would be out the door if they failed.

 

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ut times change and for some sales people this rather crude approach to performance-related pay can be incredibly demotivating. Some people don’t like

Part-timers provide full-time benefits

 

Many print businesses use temporary workers and there are many reasons for doing so. Seasonal peaks in demand, new clients or unexpected orders, cover for full-time staff absence, boosting capacity in the short term after a machine breakdown – these situations and more may drive the need to dip into the temporary talent pool.

 

There has been a strong growth in the temporary workforce over the past decade, which is good for employers requiring flexibility. But before going any further