Nexpo: Orders for a few in quiet US show

Jul 27, 2008 at 06:36 pm by Staff

Had Nexpo exhibitors saved the best for DRUPA, set to take place only a month later than the premier US newspaper show, held this year in Washington? Maybe, but there were certainly new product releases – including showings from Agfa, Müller Martini and Kodak – and these were rewarded with orders, but also the suspicion that others, especially in the heavy metal department, had been held until Düsseldorf. And others were ‘newspaper-only-vendors with little interest in DRUPA. Kodak sold three of a new high-speed thermal CTP system – based on the former Creo Trendsetter technology popular in Australia – to an Atlanta newspaper, having already announced the ‘Los Angeles Times’ Olympic plant as a beta site. This is the Generation News, which handles four cassettes with capacity of 1600 broadsheet plates for unattended online use. Plate size selection, slip sheet removal, transport to the imaging engine, centring and registration are all automated to eliminate errors. And at the Agfa stand there was a preview of Publish, a new component to the Apogee workflow suite which the company believes will appeal to newspaper and magazine users by integrating content management tools into their existing environment. With the rival attraction of the presidential hopefuls upstairs, the large show was certainly quiet: It was a fine balance with one exhibitor I had hoped to meet citing low visitor numbers as a reason for leaving the show before the end, while others had time to talk. The show was an opportunity to get to know Saxotech, the company embraced in Australia by the Hannan family’s Independent Digital Media business and used by titles including ‘Village Voice’ and the ‘Wentworth Courier’ IPMG sold recently to News Limited. Central to the product offering is a content management system called Mediaware Centre, to which Pluck’s SiteLife social media platform has now been integrated. Saxotech had scored a first company in Gannett, which plans to roll out the system across several centres, enabling visitors to its sites to post comments and pictures, write blogs and set up their own pages. Among the local heroes, MediaSpan showed its YouNews module – designed to handle user contributions – and new versions of its circulation and production applications, while CNI had new features to help manage outsourced ad production and improve order entry. Tera Digital added web content management to its GN3 system. DTI’s news was an order for its audience database product from the ‘Washington Times’ which will be used for subscription campaigns and ad upsells as well as for new products. Also new is a hosting service which allows customers to access DTI editorial, advertising, circulation and web content management. Miles 33 – which had purchased net-linx Publishing Systems only days before – was at the show in force. Managing director Michael Moore sees net-linx as a good fit for the UK-based company with few overlaps in its offering. The company showed a new ‘media-neutral’ content creation and management system for scheduling, assigning and tracking content for print and digital use. Miles introduced a media-neutral content creation and management product, dubbed Workflow, at the show. Users can schedule, assign and track content for online and print editions. Members of the Melbourne-based Advanced Publishing Systems team were with Mindworks and Roxen Internet Software to develop interest in a range of products including the editorial portal sold to AAP’s Pagemasters, and Sydney-headquartered Pongrass Publishing Systems showed its new browser-based V6 editorial and advertising systems on its own stand. At CCI Sourcing, the good news was only short-lived: First the advertising production outsourcing arm – a joint venture between CCI Europe’s parent, Stibo and the ‘Hindu’ newspaper in India – had picked up a first US client in the Anderson, South Carolina ‘Independent-Mail’ ... but within days had announced that it would close. In a classic comment, Stibo chief executive Hans Damgaard remarked that the company, “certainly did not enter this market with this conclusion in mind”. An alternative supplier was being found for the South Carolina publisher, while those in Europe are being serviced by Mindworking in Denmark. Making the connection between printed ads and online promotion was a comprehensive new response system using a two-dimensional printed barcode. GossRSVP – introduced by the US-headquartered press manufacturer – is similar in some respects to the concept promoted by Upcode (with the support of press rival manroland) but with a wide range of options including readers rewards. Goss has been trialling the system in the US since the end of last year and is expected to launch it in Australia at PANPA. One option, allowing readers to browse extra pictures and information on web-enabled phones has been pitched to real estate agents and other advertisers, while other applications include polls and special-offer coupons on a tracked and managed single or multiple response basis. Few of the press orders being talked about at the show were new, but Goss had sold a Magnum 4 to a contract printer in Phoenix, Arizona, and there were other orders in Latin America – a Universal tower for Ecuadorian newspaper publisher Grupo Granasa and a new Uniliner for Artes Graficas del Litoral in Argentina. Among press peripherals, QI Press Controls’ Australian-developed ‘air bustle’ anti-fanout device was shown along with updates on IDS colour and register systems. The US’s interest in UV printing continues, with contributions from users and vendors. Among them as Jim Hemig of Swift Communications, a newspaper publisher in the Rocky Mountains area with titles in Denver and Grand Junction. A system on Swift’s DGM presses helped improve deadline and profits, avoiding the need to put work such as covers and glossy supplements out to contract. Hemig says that while some of their own commercial customers upgraded, the biggest benefit was through the advertising opportunities created. “It was also important to be able to keep insert inhouse and improve our own production,” he says. The move into UV is the latest in an escalating story of improvements to match and surpass competition ... colour on every page, brighter stocks and now gloss. Of the changeover – planned over six or seven years – he advises spending a lot of time on the phone: “Most newspapers are open to sharing their experiences,” he says. “We flew around the country and spoke to other printers as well as vendors and picked up a lot of product ideas, apart from the technical aspects.” He says the cost of UV is “not prohibitive”, although the learning curve is significant. Other contributors included Thomas Unterberger – of Vienna’s Herold Druck und Verlag – Erich Midlik of Prime UV, Dave Moreland of Manugraph DGM and Girish Pandit of Sierra Nevada Media. Herold is a pioneer of inert UV, using Eltex equipment on a MAN Roland Colorman satellite tower at its city-centre plant. On the mailroom front, Müller Martini – whose new 45,000 cph ProLiner inserting system was running at the show – sold two SLS-3000 inserters plus hopper, conveyor and software systems, to the ‘Daily News’ in Naples, Florida, while the same customer is buying palletising and wrapping equipment from Schur. The modular ProLiner combines concepts from both the company’s SLS and NewsLiner systems. There are several key differences in the US mailroom market, where Goss represents Ferag and a number of domestic suppliers take a share. Among these Seidel Enterprises had a new inserter capable of up to 35,000 cph and expandable to 40 feeders two modules. Schur for its part, introduced a barcode-based system to handle returned newspapers at up to 20,000 cph. It uses barcodes and a digital camera to record the products being handled. Quipp Systems had an upgraded packaging system, already installed in Chicago and Asheville (North Carolina), and Rima showed a new RS36 compensating stacker. gx
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