Thirlby: SME printers are embracing integration

By Jo Francis, Friday 09 December 2016

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SME printers are embracing the ‘smart print shop’ production ethos shown at Drupa by Heidelberg, according to Prinect general manager Anthony Thirlby.

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Thirlby: "it’s not just the big industrial guys doing this"

The manufacturer now has more than 100 customers worldwide who are at different stages of deploying fully-integrated end-to-end Prinect systems, and a further 500 using “the vast majority” of modules, Thirlby said.

“Most importantly, it’s not just the big industrial guys doing this. We have companies in the €7m-€9m turnover range adopting this technology as well.”

He said that around 2,500 customers have at least two Prinect components connected.

Heidelberg is also reporting a favourable response to the ‘click charge’ style of pay-as-you-go pricing for the new Prinect Production Manager module, which was launched at Drupa.

Jones & Brooks recently became the first UK user of the system.

Axel Zöller, head of Prinect international sales, said that the usage-specific pricing and ability to change configurations had proved appealing to printers that might have been put off by a high one-off outlay.

“We have been very successful with Production Manager because it’s not one price, it’s a pricing point where everyone can earn this money out of their daily production,” he explained.

The new web-to-print solution that was launched at Drupa is also now going into beta testing. “Customers wanted a solution without high-end investment, and we now have smaller commercial printing companies in beta phase.” Zöller added.

Thirlby said there was a significant opportunity for printers of all sizes to “increase throughput and velocity” by removing touchpoints in their processes, whether the focus was cutting costs or driving growth.

“The really changing face of production is system integration,” he stated. “There’s still a huge amount of manual entry of information in the industry, and printers often only know about profitability retrospectively. Sometimes our customers don’t know where to start, but we can support any type of business from multi-site operations to single-sites with sales of €5m.”

Thirlby cited a Printing Industries of America survey of printers’ profitability, whereby the top 25% of companies surveyed were making margins of circa 10%, which was more than three times the average. He said these “profit leaders” had differentiated their offering by reducing costs and increasing productivity.

Thirlby joined Heidelberg in May, having previously built a reputation for process improvement in the industry at Heidelberg customers ESP Colour and Pureprint.

“The productivity of the machines is actually greater than even Heidelberg realises,” he added. “I’ve always thought that from when I was a customer.” 

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