Analogue Printing - 5 Key Strategies to Remain Competitive in Today's Digital Environment

Over the last few years, digital printing output has been growing at a strong rate but there have also been steady incursions into litho and other analogue processes. Smithers Pira takes a look at the major strategic steps printers and equipment suppliers are taking to remain competitive in the industry.

Some of the growth in output has been for entirely new applications, but the push into litho and other analogue processes has been due to economics and turnaround as graphic, packaging and label producers look for more efficient production. As output of publication and graphic print has been declining for many years in Europe and North America and average run lengths have fallen, analogue equipment suppliers have sought to take steps to shore up shares of short and short-medium run printing jobs. The growth in individual servo motor control of presses has allowed automation systems to reduce set-up times, while technologies, such as Heidelberg’s Anicolor dampening systems, are helping to reduce waste.

The unit costs of digital print are higher than analogue. New equipment is lowering costs but the set-up is at a much lower cost. Analogue suppliers are trying to compete. The combination of CtP and sheetfed litho allows for cost-effective plates; the use of JDF allows automated routines where the press sets itself and this combination allows standard set-ups in a few minutes by companies following lean manufacturing processes. Litho and flexo press manufacturers are providing these solutions on their latest equipment.
The other area that analogue press suppliers are tackling is to provide more added value functions, letting print suppliers augment the standard ink-on-paper with gloss coatings, additional colours and special effect inks to create eye-catching and tactile finishes. Many are adopting patented technologies that now come as a standard package to this end.

This white paper published by Smithers Pira looks at the five key strategies to help your business remain competitive in today's digital environment. These strtegies are defined as:

  • Automatic plate changeover for frequent job changeovers
  • Implementation of lean manufacturing
  • Entering into strategic alliances with digital press producers
  • Reducing make-readies, wastage and setup times through automation
  • Handling of multiple substrates