All things offset: Specialise and offer value

An excerpt from AP September 2020 – by CBS Printing general manager Nathan Wilson

The current landscape for offset printing in Australia is very much a two-speed economy – a lot of companies seem to be trying to operate as they always have and are finding it tough, while others are pivoting and specialising and finding niches. 

Also, what is often referred to as industry press power – the amount of machine capacity to produce – is in over capacity, which often leads to printers undercutting on pricing regardless of whatever work comes in, whether it is the right work for the business, the machinery and profitability.

The offset environment, as we know it, is also consolidating and reducing in run lengths, and needs to be more efficient. Unless you are specialising and offering value in offset, it is becoming a very competitive landscape.

However, the positives of offset printing will be (and what it has been for many years) its reliability, consistency, and quality. Offset print, if run and managed correctly, will and can still be a major competitor for digital workflows. Day-on-day offset technology is much more reliable and with the right systems and staff, can be pretty much all managed in-house rather than having to deal with the unknown issues and inconsistencies of digital print.

While digital is becoming a bigger player in the industry, offset is still very much relevant today. How far away is the future and what that will look like is really only a best guess. The choice in offset to digital changes as jobs move in size, quality, and inline finishing.

Work is coming to offset from the web and offshore, and for the needs of the market today, offset has the quality, reliability and competitiveness to make it very relevant. This is especially the case for industries such as packaging, POS and commercial.

Offset has made significant leaps forward in terms of prepress plates, inks, machine hardware and workflows, and while it may all look similar in shape or process as it did years ago, there has been technological advancements in these areas.

With CBS, developments in process-less plates, UV press, and colour management and workflows have allowed us to move be more efficient, offer new substrates, and product offerings.

As a company, we have a range of equipment in offset printing equipment that includes the Ryobi 924 (A1) four Colour LED UV Press, Ryobi 750 (A2) four Colour + Aqueous Coater Press, and Ryobi 525 (A3) five Colour Press. These presses are complimented with late model prepress and thermal plating as well as post press equipment to give a complete offset press solution.

These solutions support the company’s offset business by providing us with the unique opportunity to have all formats and sizes covered – from A3 to A1 sheet sizes. It also allows us to ensure each job is planned for using the most applicable press, resulting in economical projects for clients, as well as workflow optimisation for print and post press finishing.

It also ensures that a job can be optimised for quality results by being printed on the right size press across CMYK or PMS methods. In addition, it ensures that there is no wasted resource or material by running a job on a press that is too big or small.

Having the presses from one manufacturer has allowed us to provide consistency across many areas of our business itself – from operations, to plates and process.  

I expect the offset space to get tighter and leaner, and technology and development with in offset will continue to get whatever small advances can be achieved. We still very much need offset and its workflows, but like any competitive and changing market, survival of the fittest – businesses in offset hat are specialised and focussed – will survive as they continue to change and adapt to market conditions.

The digital version of the magazine is available here.

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