What’s Canon Been Up to For the Past Year?

Posted on by Greg Cholmondeley | 2 Comments »

CSAThis week Canon Solutions America hosted an anniversary event for media and analysts down here in Boca. Over the course of two days they shared their results, their 2014 direction, product demonstrations, and even had a few key customers share their perspectives. I’ll let the myriad of other writers who were present document the details, especially about the reprographer and service bureau arenas while I summarize what I think the commercial printing space should care about and why it is important.

Integration

A year ago I visited the formerly-Oce headquarters down here and passed by machines covered in plastic as Canon logos were being painted on the walls. A lot has happened since then and, while much of it is internally-oriented, some will have a powerful impact on the marketplace. The most important message is that in one, very short year they have managed to integrate their infrastructure as well as their production sales, service, support organizations. They did this by spending the previous year figuring out how to do it, then creating a new company (Canon Solutions America), and blending the Canon and Oce organizations into this new company. The thinking was that this would reduce the “who’s in charge” conflicts that arise when you insert an acquired company into an existing structure and, well, it seems to have worked.

I think that this is valuable and welcome news to anyone who is using or looking at solutions from Canon. Having sales channels that don’t compete with each other helps ensure that proposals have the customer’s best interest in mind rather than just that rep’s product line. And having service and professional services aligned is essential to ensuring that what is sold really works.

Production Workflow Software

The PRISMA family of software solutions isn’t new, but it is exciting to see it expand into the Canon product line. Historically most of this software has been centered on high-volume, web-fed, transactional applications and short-run book production. This isn’t going to change, but bringing the power of PRISMA across the full Canon product line will expand its application base more into commercial print. Another indication of their interest in the commercial printing space is that in the past year Canon has become a qualified G7 Master Company.

Oce JetStream WideWeb-fed Inkjet Presses & Media

Short-run books have been produced on digital presses since before the very first production digital presses were formally launched. One of the biggest business challenges in digital book production has always been price. Canon is addressing that challenge in two ways: PRISMA workflow software to reduce labor costs and inkjet technology to dramatically reduce production costs over toner-based approaches. Just to be clear, their JetStream printers are beasts weighing in at 13 tons and are capable of printing 5 over 5 at 636 feet per minute, or 90 million pages per month. Their ColorStream printers run up to 6 over 6 colors at a mere 417 feet per minute or 30 million pages per month. They even have a special JetStream Wide Series mono ideally suited for monochrome book production. All these integrate into a variety of in-line finishing systems. As you can see, production speed and volume are also not a concern.

The final technological barrier holding Canon back in the book production segment has been media. Over the past year Canon has worked this issue and is now partnered with every single paper mill in the US certifying over 800 different media types for their inkjet devices. Books have special needs, and there is more work to be done here, but Canon is now poised to make some serious inroads into this application space.

ColorWave 900ColorWave 900

OK, I know I said I wouldn’t cover the large format space, but the ColorWave 900 is so cool that I have to mention it. This is a must-see if you do large signs or banners and have customers who want uber-short turnaround times. It has a native PDF controller that prints full-color, 42-inch wide media at 1 foot per second. Yeah, that’s sixty linear feet per minute. It is pretty impressive to watch – especially if you’re under the gun to deliver a large sign in a short time. There are, of course, downsides. The image quality is perfectly adequate for banners six or more feet away but you’ll notice drop-outs and other defects if you get your nose right in it. And, the Memjet inkjet array heads only last for 2-4 liters of ink which can translate to needing replacement every few days in a working environment. Neither of these are knockouts if this device is used for the right applications like banners and signs that are needed FAST. The biggest problem I see with this device is that once customers get this type of turnaround performance on one job – they’ll expect it on everything.

So, while there were no major announcements at this event (they told us to stay tuned later in the year), the information they shared should be important and valuable to all of you.

2 Responses to “What’s Canon Been Up to For the Past Year?”

Comment from lee walton
Time February 7, 2014 at 4:35 pm

The colourWave 900 sounds like a donkey.

I agree 1 foot a second is a little mind bending but also agree there would be negatives when it comes to quality, to say that the image comes together at six or more feet away says a lot about the inconsistency of quality.

Is it CMYK only or does it other configurations ?

Probably comes with a hefty maintenance contract ……

Sorry it doesn’t sound like a donkey . It’s more Pony !

i think the ColourWave has a very small commercial appeal other than a walk in printshop .

Comment from Greg Cholmondeley
Time February 11, 2014 at 7:30 am

Lee,

I’m not going to respond about donkeys and ponies and will let someone from Canon address your other questions. I do, however, want to ensure that I correctly conveyed my message regarding quality.

What I meant was that, in my opinion, while the ColorWave 900 does not have the quality required for applications like proofing, photo books or book covers; it has perfectly acceptable quality for many applications like banners, vehicle/building/fence wraps, and event signage. Also, while I can’t speak to their maintenance pricing, Canon did have a customer there who claimed to be doing brisk business with a healthy margin charging $0.50 a linear foot.

So, this would be something to consider if you provide those types of signage applications to customers who, for whatever reason, are willing to pay a premium because they place their orders at the last minute. I’m also confident that there are creative people out there who will come up with other suitable applications that are made possible by this speed.

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