IT’S NOT ONLY SPORTING PROWESS THAT WILL BE ON SHOW DURING THE 2012 LONDON OLYMPICS, WIDE-FORMAT DIGITAL PRINT WILL ALSO BE IN THE SPOTLIGHT. ARE YOU LIMBERING UP TO TAKE PART?
APART FROM THE sporting excellence on show during the 2012 London Olympics the might of the UK wideformat digital printing industry will also be on display. The planned centerpiece of the thousands of square meters output for this once in a lifetime event will be the gigantic digitally printed fabric wrap that is set to encircle London’s iconic Olympic Stadium during the games. The wrap will comprise 336 individual panels – each approximately 25m high and 2.5m wide. Expected to be in the region of 900m long, it will be the largest piece of wide-format digital print ever seen in this country. A truly Herculean job if ever there was one, the wrap was actually canned earlier in 2011 in a bid to shave-off £7m in stadium build costs.
However, thanks to worldwide Olympic Partner The Dow Chemical Company, the wrap is back in business again, although at the time of writing there was growing opposition to the Dow Chemical Company due to its connection with Union Carbide and the Bhopal gas disaster. If all goes according to plan, installation is set for this spring. The sustainable wrap will be fabricated by Dow and consist of resins made by Dow’s Performance Plastics Division which require fewer raw materials to manufacture. Dow says the wrap will be up to 35% lighter and have a lower carbon footprint when compared to conventional substrates. It will also include post-industrial recycled content and the hardware used to fix it will be recycled in Europe following the Games. Likewise, the company is committed to finding sustainable usage for the wrap too, and says it is currently looking at available options.
At the time of writing, Dow was not willing to say who will actually design the wrap and the logistics of how it will be produced and installed. And then the big question is who is going to print it? Once again, Dow has been tight lipped as are likely contenders, which is only to be expected given that anyone undertaking any form of Olympic work is unable to talk about, market or indeed use any form of PR to promote their involvement. In these pre-Games times though, record-breaking digitally produced graphics have started to appear around London. Back in September 2011, the press reported on the giant wrap adorning the GlaxoSmithKline HQ in Brentford. Estimated to be seen in the region of 78,000 people per day, at 41m high, it is to date the largest Olympic logo to be seen in the capital. Apparently, a year in the planning, the job was reported to have been carried out by a well-known London-based PSP listed as a supplier on the ODA (Olympic Development Agency) website.
One possible conduit for winning Olympic-related work is through the CompeteFor portal (www.competefor.com). Set up four years ago specifically to facilitate the award of public contracts to business, the site acts as a brokerage service to match buyers with potential suppliers.
As well as London 2012, CompeteFor is being used by other public sector buyers and their supply chains, including Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police Service, Westminster City Council, the London Borough of Hackney and Crossrail which has opted to use CompeteFor for all of their smaller direct contracts (below EU thresholds) on this multi-billion pound project. It requires that their subcontractors also use the service resulting in hundreds more opportunities available for businesses.
According to CompeteFor, a total of 153,816 businesses are registered on the service from across the whole of the UK and overseas and a total of 10,233 business opportunities – across all business categories – have been made available. In terms of digital print companies registering on the website, data is a little harder to read as the numbers have been calculated for Image Reports magazine based on five business categories: printers, print finishers, printer textiles, screen process printers, photo/digital imaging bureaux. (see the box out below detailing geographic representation and the amount of print tenders offered through the portal). The Birmingham-based PSP Hollywood Monster registered for the CompeteFor website a year ago, but any Olympic tendered work has come about from other avenues such as new and existing clients.
Managing director Tim Andrews says the company - which has relatively recently invested in new printer hardware - “actively executed a business improvement plan looking at roles and responsibilities, processes and procedures to ensure we eliminate any inefficiencies allowing us to perform even better producing higher outputs.”
In terms of staff the workforce has increased by 40% and currently Hollywood Monster is advertising various new roles as a result of the business improvement plan that has highlighted new opportunities within the business both for existing and new staff.
As far as its green credentials go, Andrews says: “We are constantly reviewing our supply chain to ensure products are ethically sourced as well as ensuring that our impact on the environment is minimal for example reducing the amount that goes to landfill by seeking alternative methods of disposal such as recycling, decomposable substrates or products that can be used beyond the Olympics itself.” London-based BAF Graphics too is registered on the CompeteFor site and its work in general has come from across the spectrum - both public and private sector - for organisations such as Ofcom, the regeneration of Stratford Market Station as well as for contractors working on projects directly within the Olympic village and associated work further afield. The company anticipates an increase in demand from all levels of the supply chain and at the beginning of 2011 underwent an equipment refresh exercise. “We have also ensured that we have kept up with demands on our personnel and will continue to do so through both direct employment and freelance where necessary,” said Antony Baglioni, business development director at BAF.
“Being accredited to ISO14001 Environmental Management has proven to be of benefit to our clients and the business as a whole. Fortunately, all investment within the business has been made to support the organic growth of the business and as a priority our existing clients business with us. Capacity has been built into the business to enable us to meet our continued medium and long term growth strategy, of which the Olympics is only one part of, ” he added. If you think it’s too late to register on the CompeteFor site you couldn’t be more wrong. A spokesperson for the facility said: “With CompeteFor being used by other major buyers and their supply chains, in addition to London 2012, it’s never to late to register on the service. Companies should make sure they maximise their use of CompeteFor by fully completing and publishing their Business Profile, not forgetting the ‘Marketing’ page of their profile.”
Manchester-based Kingfisher Graphics is a case in point. The company was poised to register on the CompeteFor site when we spoke to director Duncan Armstrong, who explained that one of its long-standing clients is also one of the main Olympic sponsors and as a result, Kingfisher is expecting to double the output it carries out for this client alone. To cope with the extra work has invested in new kit as well as new staff.
As for the reason for the late registration the company has been busy focusing on the extra work and logistics needed for its existing clients. Again, earlier this year it invested in new equipment and has taken on new staff to deal with the added capacity.
Overall it is expected that over 50,000 contracts will be awarded through the CompeteFor London 2012 supply chain and the stimulus of the 2012 Games is expected to increase economic output by an estimated £1.37bn per year until at least 2015. In such unstable economic times this is great news for the UK, but like any forecast we’ll have to wait and see.
London 2012 is a milestone for the Games in that it will be the first Olympiad that is committed to being green. To this end, the organising committee LOCOG has a Sustainable Sourcing Code that suppliers must adhere to in order to gain work. When it comes to proving their environmental credentials, this code says that suppliers are expected to take steps towards implementing BS 8901:2009 Specification for a sustainability management system for events. Standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001 are considered appropriate for those supplying products and services to a wider range of sectors. The Sustainable Sourcing Code makes specific reference to printers advising that any supplier or licensee undertaking any LOCOG related work is either registered with EMAS, certified to ISO 14001 or taking steps towards managing their environmental impact through other initiatives such as BS 8555.
FACTS AND FIGURES
At the time of going to press the number of digital print companies registered on CompeteFor and their geographic location was thus:
East Midlands 358
East of England 619
North East England 163
Northern Ireland 47
North West England 254
Scotland - Highlands and Islands 5
Scotland - rest of Scotland 116
South East England - Berkshire 802
South West England 310
Wales - 99
West Midlands 348
Yorkshire and Humber - Humber 281
The number of digital print tenders
offered through CompeteFor:
ITT Issued 20