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Technically speaking

Print straddles manufacturing and the service industries to distort statistics. Even though official statistical data is not yet available, it is clear that 2006 has been a difficult year for the printing industry in the UK. Competition is tough, some high-profile print service providers have gone bankrupt in the past two years and more industry consolidation is expected. To see how print revenues and the different product groups are doing, I spent some time on National Statistics Online (, searching for 2005 printing industry data. Usually the Office for National Statistics is quite a reliable source, and revenue figures for the printing industry are published in late summer, based on data from the previous year, but revenue figures for 2005 are still not available. There are, however, other sources of information and when looking at the production index for the main statistical category for printing, it is noticeable that the numbers have nose-dived since 2005. The production index in October 2006 was down to 94.5 points, compared to the average production value in 2003 of 100 points. Charting the industry We at InfoTrends track and measure the digital print market. In 2005, we estimated the revenue from digital print in the UK would be worth around pounds 3.5bn, which is an increase of 4.9% on 2004 revenues. Compared to the pounds 11.5bn that the Office for National Statistics cites as the revenue of the printing industry in 2004, it sounds like a pretty large share. However, comparing statistics can be quite difficult. Unlike InfoTrends, the Office for National Statistics only covers the revenue of companies where the main activity is commercial printing. It does not cover packaging printing, newspaper printing and other forms of speciality printing. It does not cover printing within enterprises (such as in-plant or data centre printing) or printing as part of business services. Facility management, copy shops and mailing companies, for example, frequently produce print but are regarded as part of the service industry. Interestingly, many of the establishments not covered in the printing industry statistics use a lot of digital print. As a result, the digital revenue proportion of the traditional printing industry is much smaller, but that shows only a part of the real print production. Still, a lot of printing, and especially digital printing, is performed within a company. It might be an unfamiliar idea for many of us, but for the majority of businesses in the UK printing is a secondary activity. A general trend at the moment is towards outsourcing of non-core activities. Some high profile deals recently underscored that trend, such as Astron’s pounds 236m document outsourcing deal with ING. In general, the more that’s outsourced, the more that ends up in the service sector. This is one more reason why the manufacturing sector is in decline, while the service sector is booming. Print as manufacturing In terms of statistics, print is currently grouped together with publishing, as a subgroup of manufacturing industries. The graphic arts industry has worked hard to establish itself as a manufacturing industry, rather than the historic view of printing as the domain of craftsmen. That was a necessary step to move toward mass production, increase efficiency and standardise processes. However, an increasingly customer-focused orientation and the move to offer a full range of customer services is pushing the printing industry more and more towards being a service industry. In the end, it might well be a natural development for the graphic arts sector to evolve into a service industry. For the time being, we have to get used to seeing print being under-represented in the statistics and remind ourselves that print is produced in...
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Old technology, lack of trained printers afflict publishing industry

Only a handful of printing and publishing companies in the Philippines have adopted the state-of-the-art technology of digital printing. As a whole, the local printing and publishing industry uses outdated printing technology exemplified by reconditioned printing machines from Japan, the United States and Germany. A reality check on the state of the printing industry in the Philippines as a promising service export, blasts the myth that the country, because of its rich pool of English-speaking and -writing journalists and editors, can be made the publishing hub of Asia after Hong Kong was absorbed by mainland China. Another critical problem the industry has to overcome is the utter lack of school-trained technical workers and printing managers. Antiquated technology and lack of schooled manpower in the printing side of the game have been identified as the biggest obstacles the domestic printing and publishing industry has to face in its bid to become more competitive in the age of information technology. These are only some of the findings made by the a team of researchers from the De La Salle University’s Center for Business and Economics Research and Development which was commissioned by the Philexport -TAPS project to make in-depth studies on which of the different service industries in the country have the best chances of succeeding in the export market. Printing and publishing was chosen for study because of the country’s large pool of news writers and editors who have joined the exodus of overseas contract workers as staff members of English newspapers in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US west coast and the Middle East. In the local scene, the De La Salle researchers, led by Dr. Tereso Tullao, Jr., found out that only 73 publishing and printing companies found their way in the top 7,000 corporations. These are led by the Manila Bulletin the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Bustamante Press, the Directory Philippines Corp. and the Bookhaven, Inc. Another 50 companies were found in the ranks of the next 5,000 corporations. Most of the printing outfits in the country were small and medium enterprises that employ less than 10 people and that use secondhand printing machines and cameras. There were a total of 2,755 printing and publishing firms in 1995, the latest available figure, with three-fourths made up of small enterprises. Some of the 73 big companies have adopted the IT-driven printing technology of the 21st century that feature scanners, digital cameras, desktop publishing, color management, computers and direct-to-press digital printing, digital proofing, and computer-to-plate systems. The technology they have adopted has the capability to produce printed matters that equal, if not surpass, the printing quality of presses in Hong Kong and Singapore. It has sped up the printing process, improved printing quality and cut costs. The rest has been left behind using the pre-digital age printing...
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Independent Newspapers considers its options for ‘greenfield’ operation

INDEPENDENT Newspapers is examining the feasibility of setting up a greenfield printing operation and has looked at a number of potential sites in the Dublin area. Setting up of dedicated state of the art printing operation is one of a number of options being considered to improve the group’s printing capabilities and the option is linked to Independent’s aim to become involved in the rescue of the troubled Irish Press group. Independent is understood to be interested in printing the three Irish Press titles in any new printing plant. Other options under consideration are understood to include contracting out all printing to a dedicated printing company and concentrating resources on publishing its titles, or setting up a printing operation with a partner. Independent group chairman Dr Tony O’Reilly is understood to believe that rationalisation of the Irish printing industry is overdue. The examination of printing arrangements is taking place against a background of high printing costs, the Independent’s need to modernise its own printing capacity and the precarious financial position of the Irish Press Group. With the Irish Press Group desperately seeking new equity investment, industry sources suggest that the Independent is anxious to become involved in the rescue in order to ensure that British publishers, such as Rupert Murdoch’s News International or Mr David Montgomery’s Mirror group, do not gain entry into the Irish newspaper business. Irish Press and Irish Independent are in direct competition on the daily, evening and Sunday titles. Independent is concerned about possible pressure on its market share if a UK publisher invests in, the Irish Press, revamps the group’s titles and cuts the cover costs to recover lost market share. The colour pre-printing of the Irish Press publications is currently done by a subsidiary of the Jefferson Smurfit Group which has also expressed an interest in the full printing contract for the Irish Press titles. While Independent’s main reason for setting up a new printing operation is to improve its own printing facilities and reduce costs, a new operation could generate income for the group if it took over the full printing contract for the three Irish Press titles. While Independent’s main reason for setting up a new printing operation is to improve its own printing facilities and reduce costs, a new operation could generate income of the group if it took over the full printing contract for the three Irish Press titles. Independent’s possible involvement in a consortium bid for Drogheda Webb Offset could be seen as a move to ensure the required printing facilities. One of the elements in the rescue of the Irish Press rescue will be the reduction in the cost of printing the three titles, the Irish Press, the Evening Press and the Sunday Press. A Supreme Court decision next month upholding the High Court damages and compensation Pounds 8.75 million award to Irish Press would go a little way towards repairing the IP balance sheet. Irish Press chief executive Mr Vincent Jennings has warned that Ingersoll, the former 50 per cent partner of Irish Press who was ordered to pay the damages and compensation, is unlikely to be able to pay the amount awarded. But if the award is upheld, Irish Press could set off the Pounds 2.25 million cost of acquiring the 50 per cent stake in Irish Press which the High Court ordered Ingersoll to sell back to Irish Press, as well as a Pounds 4 million loan from Ingersoll to the company, against the damages and compensation award. But the group will require significant new capital to boost liquidity, restructure its operation and revamp its titles. With a direct equity investment by Independent in...
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Increasing prospects in the hi-tech world of printing

PRINTING is one of our most important means of mass communication and today, in Australia, accounts for the spending of billions of dollars annually. For the ambitious, this is good news, for although starts for apprentices in the industry are down 50 per cent over the past three years, there are growing prospects for two classes of people _ the unemployed and those who want to change their career path. The latter might include as many candidates as the former; modern printing is so diverse and is linked to so many technological advances that the industry, in the near future, might well offer rosy prospects to those with the will to retrain. Until about 10 years ago, printing was rather a restricted, almost mysterious industry. But the advent of the word processor, the rapid advance of software and, most importantly, the open-mindedness of the printing unions, has seen computer skills fully accepted. Printing today is virtually completely computer-driven. Just about every step in producing the printed image is now generated on, or in conjunction with, a computer screen, from text to graphics. Artists now work at a keyboard whereas previously they would have used pens and brushes. Some work still is produced manually, but the bulk of artwork and type can now be generated at the keyboard. Printing began about 550 years ago. About 1440 Johannes Gutenberg invented printing with movable metal type and for the first time a printer could make many copies of a book; mass production had arrived and a new industry was born. This moveable metal type is now virtually obsolete, and printing has progressed to being computer-based where the process of reproduction for mass production is generally by way of a photographic medium. As Russell Worthy, director of the Melbourne College of Printing and Graphic Arts puts it, “from the point of view of the print worker, printing has shaken off the dirty fingernails image to take on a hi-tech base”. Recently, the first students in the new Certificate in Occupational Studies printing course completed their one-year assignment and, arising from that, Mr Worthy says, 75 per cent of the intake found work in the industry or went on to further study. “Things are improving on the employment front,” he said. “Even though apprenticeships are very hard to come by at present, there are openings occurring for people with specialised training.” The college offers full and part-time studies in printing from its three campuses, one in Brunswick and the others in North Melbourne. What kind of work can be expected to be found in printing? The range is wide. As the economy picks up, the industry will need skilled workers in the fields of sales, estimating, production control, finished artwork, composition, graphic reproduction, printing and machining, screen printing, binding, small offset printing, to name a few. The Australian printing industry employs more than 110,000 people nationally and has an annual turnover exceeding $13 billion. In addition, exports of printed products is in excess of $160 million each year. Printing ranks second in the manufacturing industry’s contribution to the Australian economy. Work can be sought in businesses large and small, in the major metropolitan cities and country centres. Blue-collar prospects include work as a binding and finishing specialist in book and magazine production, as a printing press operator, maintenance engineer, or equipment installation specialist, and the Victorian Printing Industry Training Board ensures that opportunities are equal for men or women. There are opportunities in printing for electronics engineers, for production engineers and for mechanical engineers. Other trade fields include camera/press operator, photo typesetters and laser scanner operators. There are basically four routes of entry into...
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Epson says printing from television will be popular

Epson says printing from television will be popular. Printing content will no longer be limited to just Word documents, Excel spreadsheets or other personal computer-based applications. In the future, people will enjoy printing public content from broadcasting media right away from their home digital television sets. “Whether it’s printing PC-based, document-scanning and photo content, people will soon have more fun printing out public content. They can capture their favourite superstar directly from the film or television show they’re watching,” said Takao Mimura, chief executive of the Inkjet Printer and Photo Products Operations Division at Seiko Epson Corp. He said home printing was shifting from PC printing and copying to photo printing. The next step, he added, was to move to what he called digital television printing. Epson has been working with Japanese-based television manufacturer Panasonic to test the television-printing concept. The idea is expected to become a reality in the next three years. Under this concept, said Mimura, printers would be integrated with the television rack, connected directly to the television, allowing people to enjoy printing using their remote control. “You’ll see a new evolution in which printers will be integrated into daily life,” he said. Broadcasting content from television is just one part of Epson’s television-printing vision. Mimura said that once a television set was connected to the Internet, people could print out various Internet content over it. In the near future, all kinds of content will be available for printing at the press of a button on the remote control. You can sack your newspaper boy, because you will be able to print newspaper or magazine content from your television screen. However, to make the concept a reality, digital television will be crucial, because it allows different types of broadcast content from different channels, including television stations and the Internet, to be delivered to users for printing. Broadband, meanwhile, will also offer increased printing opportunities. Seiichi Hirano, director and chief executive of the Imaging and Information Products Operations Division, said there would be more business opportunities to emerge from the television-printing concept. Printing services are just one potential new business in the digital television-printing era. “Once printing can be done through television, it will open up new business opportunities,” said Hirano. Movie providers, for example, could offer a new superstar photo printing service, allowing users to print pictures through their television set for a fee. Advertising agencies could use digital television-printing channels to develop new interactive marketing programmes by offering a discount coupon to print while the advertising is on air. This could help companies push their marketing programmes to reach target groups, save the cost of coupon printing and, importantly, check and monitor audience responses while increasing sales volume. Epson is working with television manufacturers to develop a connectivity protocol between digital television sets and printers. Mimura said with all of Epson’s printing-technology developments, the company hoped to create a new home-printing culture offering not only quality and durable print-outs, but also convenience and more fun with...
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