Image Reports | Wide Format Digital Print Industry News | Analysis

Tue07292014

Last update10:00:32 AM

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Wide-format Blogs

Where’s the margin growth?

As large-format printing companies continue to diversify to match their services offering with the ‘solutions provider’ tag now used by so many, where do you see the biggest opportunity to grow margin? Is it actually developing new print and associated services, in finding more in-house efficiencies, or in thinking much wider than that? If you would like to debate the question, please get in touch.

Fighting an uphill battle

Two Sides is doing a fantastic job in promoting the environmental credentials of paper. But are we in the wide-format sector doing enough - or in a position of having enough knowledge on the subject - to fight our corner when it comes to environmental arguments on what we produce – not just on paper, but on other substrates and by various inkjet technologies? If you have opinions on how we could strengthen our story let me know.

Buy, buy, buy

Having had conversations with a number of MBO teams of wide-format print businesses over the last few weeks, and now with Tharstern’s news, it seems that 2014 is fast becoming the year of management buy-ins. If you’ve been involved in an MBO this year please get in touch.

How graphic do you want it?

Fespa has produced a post-show infographic of Fespa Digital 2014 which can be found at http://www.fespa.com/news/features/post-show-report-fespa-digital-2014.html.  My question is, how useful do you find information delivered in this way, and would it help you if Image Reports produced more charts of this nature in stats heavy reports such as Widthwise? Or do you think simple graphs are the way to go? Let me know – the planning for the 2015 is already underway.

You Couldn’t Make It Up

As we all know, when it comes to our print business reliability is the key. With a plethora of poorly built digital print equipment available, usually at an attractive price, it is always a leap into the unknown for those that decide to invest in one. Sometime you are lucky and the machine can prove to be a good purchase that serves your business well. At other times the old motto, “Buy cheap, buy twice” springs to mind!

Having been purchasing production equipment now for over 20 years, I have learnt by many mistakes made over those years. The first is to believe nothing that the sales person tells you until you’ve seen it with your own eyes. With stopwatch in hand and the most difficult print files Ripped and ready to go, this is the moment when you find out the truth.

With all this in mind, last year I purchased a proven UV printer direct from a very reputable manufacturer. Although the machine was “second user”, it came with a guarantee that it was “fully refurbished” and “just as good as a new machine”. Well, 12 months on and all I can say is that I hope is their new machines are more reliable!

Just a few weeks after the six-month warranty period expired we had our first problem. Two new printheads and ten grand later it was working again. Two months after that and the vacuum pump failed along with a circuit board. Another six grand!

So, when a printhead failed two weeks ago we were at the point where we’re thinking we’ve made a bad purchase as the machine lets us down every time we go to use it. Then things quickly got even worse here at Mole Industries…..

The printhead that had failed this time was the one that was replaced just six months (and half a litre of yellow ink!) after it had been installed. I obviously questioned the quality of the printhead and what warranty was provided with it. The answer given was, “We don’t provide any kind of warranty with our printheads”. Unbelievable!  You can buy a car for £6,000 and get a lifetime warranty with it.

I asked for this to be put in writing and nothing materialised, even though I chased it for a week. I kicked up a fuss with the sales chap who sold me the machine without much luck. I threatened them with legal action. I said I’d go elsewhere and charge them for the new printhead. I said I’d sell the machine and others that I’d bought from them at the earliest opportunity. Again, no response.

Only when I made a final, heartfelt plea did they reluctantly agree to change the failed printhead at no cost. And all of this whilst dealing with one of the largest digital printer manufacturers in the world.

Sometimes I wonder where good old ‘customer service’ has gone. If you do find it, please let me know.