Are offset press sales leveling off?

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The last several years have been extremely difficult for offset press manufacturers. Driven by electronic substation, short run economics, and continued uptake in personalization press sales have declined dramatically.  But are we at the bottom of that decline or is this just the calm before the storm?

To try to get a handle on sales of offset presses I did some research and looked at revenue figures for sheetfed and web offset press sales from 2008 to 2015 for the leading manufacturers. (Services and other revenue streams were not counted) For sheetfed I totaled up revenues from Heidelberg, KBA, manroland and Komori. And for web offset I looked at figures from Goss, KBA, manroland, and Komori.  The manroland and Goss figures from 2008 and 2009 are estimates as press sales figures were hard to break out.

The data shows overall sales for the companies mentioned declined by 33% from €5.6 billion in 2008 to €3.8 billion in 2015, with even steeper declines in North America and W. Europe.  However sales from 2013 to 2015 were relatively flat.


Revenue estimates: Sheetfed: Heidelberg, KBA, manroland, and Komori
Revenue estimates: Web offset: Goss, KBA, manroland, and Komori
Euros (mil)





































During that time sales of digital printing hardware were growing and now globally Caslon estimates the value of just color and monochrome print engines sales at greater than €4.5 billion.  And for digital print vendors revenues from service, toner, and inks is double to triple the print engine revenue – a revenue stream that offset press manufacturers have not enjoyed with their equipment.

Does this mean the offset press industry has bottomed out?  I don’t think so. Page volumes are still dropping and as millennials replace baby-boomers shifting demand away from paper and so it doesn’t look like demand has bottomed out yet.

And then there’s the next generation of digital printing technology on the horizon. New inkjet technology from Canon, EFI, Fujifilm HP, Kodak, Konica Minolta, Landa, Ricoh and Xerox are all aiming at taking substantial print volumes from offset in both production and packaging segments.

While offset press manufacturers missed out on digital technology during the first wave of products it looks like most will get a second chance at the growing digital market. Most manufacturers are positioning themselves to take part in the growth of digital technology for the next round of growth, typically by partnering with a digital partner. Examples include Heidelberg’s partnership with Ricoh and Fujifilm; KBA is developing presses with HP and Xerox technology and Komori has partnered with Konica Minolta and Landa. It’s interesting that they’ll get a second chance, as that usually doesn’t happen when one technology supplants another .

Color Management Gets Real

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, Caslon & Company

Xerox Automated Color Management Screen2016 seems to be the year when the industry has stopped just talking about color management and started making it happen in the real world. All the major vendors have launched solutions focused on making color management easy and affordable enough for everyone to do. It all sounds good in the pitches, but some of these solutions have been around long enough for us to hear how customers are actually using them and how real-life situations have driven new product capabilities.

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Inkjet presses set to capture more offset volumes

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For those companies producing digital printing presses with the goal of creating digital technologies that can replace the current analog printing technologies, whether it be offset, flexography or gravure there’s the old saying “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.” The first bite into offset volumes came from digital presses that use electro-photographic principles to transfer toner or liquid ink to the page. The main applications are short run static and short to medium run personalized work. It took many years for the image quality to rival offset, but it is there now. Substrate flexibility issues have been resolved.  And the capabilities in terms of gamut, spot colors, and special finishes continue to improve and cover more applications than ever before.  But the technology has limitations in terms of speed and costs. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Xerox really going to purchase RR Donnelley?

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Having just come back from drupa where Xerox had a press conference in which Ursula Burns and Jeff Jacobson spoke about the benefits of splitting Xerox into two companies, specifically how it would allow Xerox to focus on the market for selling copiers and production presses I was really surprised to hear Xerox is thinking about buying the largest printer in the US.  Guess that “focus idea” is overrated.

Now I’m not privy to any of the details so I can’t really comment on if this is a good deal or not, price plays the key role in any deal.  But here are some of the leading reasons for a merger/acquisition

  • Synergy
  • Growth
  • Increasing market power
  • Acquiring unique capabilities or resources
  • Unlocking hidden value

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A New Way to Manage All Your Digital Presses

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, Caslon & Company

NavigatorI often write about solutions which automate production processes but it is important to also consider ways to efficiently manage manage printing operations as well. One common set of challenges in-plants and commercial printers face revolves around tracking and managing their presses and digital front ends. While that might sound mundane, ensuring that all software and patches are up-to-date, that media catalogs and color management profiles are consistent, and knowing when and where machines are performing or are having issues can be a huge time sink. It’s rough enough with just one facility but it becomes a nightmare if you manage multiple sites or are an in-plant managing a fleet of printers.

I recently reviewed a new solution from EFI called Fiery Navigator which addresses these challenges.

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Re-Inventing the Catalog

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Funny thing that happened on the way to ordering products online, it turns out most people still love printed catalogs. However the format is changing as consumers demand more content than old-school catalog descriptions provide.  Catalogs now aren’t just direct mailers. They’re magazines, often personalized to the recipients’ purchasing habits, their pages filled with artistically styled photography and expertly penned information. And catalogs have proven so effective in driving online sales in the past few years that a number of Internet-first companies have joined the ranks of lifestyle-inspired catalog producers. Read the rest of this entry »

Digital Printing at drupa 2016

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I had the opportunity to go to Dusseldorf, Germany and attend drupa 2016. Here is my summary of what I saw with regard to digital press developments and trends.

While all the major digital press vendors had their wares on display, HP was most impressive with an entire hall full of their gear.

IMG_7861  IMG_8063

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University of Illinois Illini Document Services Meets Student and Staff Needs

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, PODi and Caslon & Company

UofII usually write about commercial printers and direct marketing companies, but occasionally I get a chance to meet with an in-plant manager. I had just such an opportunity earlier this year when I spoke with Duane Fitch, Production Manager for Illini Document Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They operate under a self-funding, profit-driven model with no financial support from the University. While, in some ways this makes life challenging, it’s probably a good thing, given the recent and current Illinois state budgets. What it means is that they have to make smart business and investment decisions and made for an interesting interview.

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Landa Deja Vu

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The first few days of drupa are filled with press conferences as vendors present what is new and talk about the equipment they have brought to the show.  The presentations run the gamut from boring, where an executive reads a prepared script, to a highly elaborate production complete with video, animation, dancers, and theatre. The latter is the Landa press conference.Landa s10-1 Read the rest of this entry »

Romax adds apps to their printing services

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, PODi and Caslon & Company

Wes Dowding 300Lots of companies are looking for new applications, new revenue streams, and new ways to differentiate themselves. Romax Marketing out of London, England believes they’re on to one. Creating apps for their clients which combine content from PDF files they’re already printing with multimedia audio and video files into apps which are playable on mobile and tablet devices. I recently interviewed Wes Dowding, Operations and Technology Director, about where they are and where they’re going.

If you think that they’re onto something, like I do, PODi is hosting a webinar with Wes titled “Capitalizing on the Next Big Win: Print and Mobile” on Wednesday, June 22at 2:00 PM Eastern Time. Here are some excerpts from a preparatory interview with him:

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