“I don’t believe that there will be an awful lot of new stuff. At the moment, because of the finances of the market, it’s very much a time of consolidation, and how does one improve profitability. So I think then if you look at drupa, the emphasis is going to be on interfacing and connectivity, and not much on technology. They say that JDF is going to be the thing that everyone is going to talk about, whether it is going to be useable at any stage, I can’t be sure,” says Tribute.
“I think that emphasis is going to be on how can printers use workflow to gain efficiency, which a lot of people have been doing for years, but it’s now being understood by everybody. There will obviously be some developments in digital printing, such as Scitex Digital Printing and its four-drop head. There will also be such things as the new feeder and delivery systems on the Heidelberg Speedmaster, which will cut down makeready by a few minutes and it improves the delivery quality and management process, but as far as groundbreaking technologies, I don’t foresee any.”
Tribute believes that the offset technology as reached a point where innovative technologies will begin to give way to improvements to existing systems, leading to increased efficiencies.
One area that Tribute believes will see a lot of activity is what he calls “Digital Lite”, the use of low-cost printers that offer ultra-high quality print at reasonable speeds. Tribute expects that not only will uptake of these machines will continue to grow at an increasing rate, but that a whole raft of these new solutions will be launched over the next 12 months.
As far as the graphic arts market recovery, Tribute believes the market is beginning to bounce back. He sees that the North American, Australian and United Kingdom markets are particularly healthy right now, but that traditional markets such as Germany are still flat. However, he doesn’t believe that 2004 will see great leaps and bounds in the market, as globally it remains plagued by over-capacity.
He also urges printers to not be followers, but to be leaders, saying that the only way strong profitability will be gained is for printers to offer their customers something new. He was particularly impressed with a number of European and North American printers that are experiencing large profits due to innovative thinking.
“You have to realise that you are not just a printer, you have to do everything. It is not a case of saying ‘we have done the job, now we’ll pass it to someone else, who will now take responsibility for delivery’. It is a case of taking the job as soon as the order is received, taking the work in, producing it, and delivering it to the customer, all within the process. Printers are now going into fulfilment services, and going into a variety of other value-added services, and I think that is where printers need to look at. You cannot just print anymore.”
While in the country, Tribute also took the opportunity to visit his stepson Eliot, who has just commenced employment with Fuji Xerox Australia after several years with Adobe in Seattle, USA.
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