Heidelberg CO2 Calculator Determines Environmental Impact of Print Projects

Whenever a customer asks about the carbon footprint of a print project, a reliable answer is hard to come by. That has changed: Heidelberg has launched the Heidelberg CO2 Calculator, an easy-to-use, customizable, online tool that can be used to determine the CO2 footprint of any print project and acquire the matching amount of carbon offsets.

The Heidelberg CO2 calculator accounts for all steps from prepress to delivery. It enables the printer to:

  • Provide print buyers with an understanding of the carbon footprint of their print project. With just a few keystrokes, and in no time, a reliable footprint for any print project can be calculated.
  • Demonstrate how changing specifications can influence the total carbon footprint. Printers can assist their customers in the decision-making process by plugging various “what-if” scenarios into the Heidelberg CO2 Calculator. By showing how the choice of different papers, inks, coatings, finishing options and run lengths, etc., will affect a project’s overall carbon footprint, printers can also present customers with a unique perspective print buyers can’t get anywhere else.
  • Provide a cost for or even acquire the corresponding carbon offsets for the print project. If the customer approves, the printer offsets the footprint in the tool and receives a “Print CO2 neutral” logo and a verifiable certificate number to apply to the printed product.

The Heidelberg CO2 Calculator employs a certified carbon-balancing model that meets internationally recognized calculation methods. Suitable for offset or digital, conventional or hybrid UV processes, the Heidelberg CO2 Calculator is the first of its kind in the North American market and the first such tool certified to comply with the latest ISO (16759) standards. It analyzes the environmental impact of all processes used for a given project, taking into account all relevant factors, including the transport of raw materials and consumables to the plant, and delivery of the finished product to the customer, as well as recycling procedures. Most Heidelberg equipment data, including power usage, speeds, etc., are preloaded; others can be added manually.

Heidelberg has led the way on environmental issues in the print industry for more than 20 years. In its commercial and packaging activities, Heidelberg’s integrated approach to environmental responsibility emphasizes reductions in paper waste, energy consumption, VOC emissions, ammonia and powder emissions, wastewater and ink residues, together with a commitment to promoting paper substrates as sustainable resources. The Heidelberg CO2 Calculator gives printers and converters an opportunity to become consultants to their customers by helping them to print more ecologically.

Register for a 90-day free trial of the Heidelberg CO2 Calculator at http://CO2.heidelberg.com.

USPS May Seek a Rate Hike After All

Barely two months after deciding to skip the usual January price increases, the U.S. Postal Service appears close to announcing that prices will rise in the spring. As usual, the do-nothing Congress is to blame.The Association for Postal Commerce (aka PostCom), a multi-industry trade group for business mailers, reports that USPS is readying itself for the next postal price change to be effective April 26, 2015.” PostCom’s “heard it through the grapevine” reports on Postal Service doings are usually right on the mark.Rates could rise nearly 1.7% for the “market-dominant” mail classes, such as First-Class, Standard, and Periodicals. That could mean a one-cent increase in the price of Forever Stamps, to an even 50 cents.What’s driving the agency’s change of plans, according to PostCom, is that Congress has failed to act on five nominations to USPS’s Board of Governors, which oversees the Postal Service and must approve any rate changes. If Congress doesn’t approve some of the nominations before its holiday recess, scheduled to start later this week, the board will lack a quorum until next month — and maybe much longer if Congress deadlocks or is too busy naming post offices to act on the nominations.

With no quorum, no rate increases could be enacted. It’s not completely clear whether the governors, while still having a quorum, could approve a rate increase but leave it to management’s discretion when, or even whether, to file the new rates with the Postal Regulatory Commission.

The Board of Governors announced Oct. 1 that it would forgo the usual inflation-based January rate increase “in part because of the uncertainty regarding the exigent price increase.” (See The Postal Service Giveth, and the Paper Market Taketh Away.)

The exigent surcharge of 4.3%, intended to compensate USPS for its losses during the Great Recession, is scheduled to expire next summer, but the agency has gone to court to increase and extend the surcharge.And some politicians have talked of making it permanent.

Also prompting the Postal Service’s change of plans may be declining oil prices, which could lead to decreases in the Consumer Price Index. Normal increases in market-dominant rates are limited to changes in the CPI.

The current CPI-based ceiling of 1.678% may be the largest USPS will see for at least a few months if petroleum prices keep dropping. Unless USPS files for an increase, the ceiling will be recalculated Dec. 17 (not Dec. 15, as I originally mis-stated) when the Labor Department reveals the CPI for November.

Digital Printing Strategies for 2015: What’s New, What’s Next?

When the first generations of digital print engines came to market, there was a lot of excitement and speculation surrounding what it would all mean to publishing, how profound of an impact it would make on how books, magazines, newspapers and other types of ink-on-paper publications were made. The technologies back then were little more than amped-up office copier/printers, but they were quick to evolve and today’s digital print systems are much closer to rivaling offset. And digital printing has its unique and compelling attributes, too—attributes that newspaper organizations may soon find invaluable.

As a class of print technology, digital printing developed side-by-side with the Internet and electronic publishing. There were mixed messages for publishers to decode and priorities to sort out. For news organizations, it became a no-brainer to publish content to the Web, to create e-editions and have a presence on social media. That’s where the audience seemed to be going.

But at the same time, the print world has been undergoing a fast and furious erosion of innovation. Old iron-horse presses still do the bulk of the heavy lifting for newspaper publishers, but prepress has been completely overhauled to become all digital. And with the advent of production-capable digital print engines now, content can be digital all the way to the press.

Today, digital printing technologies are diverse—from toner-based systems to the newest classes of large-format equipment and high-speed inkjet Web presses. The resolutions have been upped, the images sharpened. Digital print systems are quick now and can be paired with in-line or near-line finishing technologies for folding, cutting, stacking and sorting. They’re highly efficient.

Hitting the Target

One of the greatest benefits of digital printing has always been its ability to produce variable-data messages—transforming mass-produced print into a more personalized publication. Early on, back in the days when publishers, printers and prepress people gathered in conference rooms to talk about how profound digital printing’s impact may be, imaginations ran wild. There was talk about how every element on a page could be information precisely chosen for (or by) the reader.

That enthusiasm has since been tempered, and the industry pumped the breaks on how targeted print should be. There’s a fine line between what is personalized and what is creepy.

But digital presses are now pumping out the variable-data print, well and wisely, in the commercial print space. That print segment, along with what’s happening at newspaper publishers in Europe and Asia, is where U.S.-based news organizations can get a glimpse of their own futures with digital print.

Print is still the bread-and-butter of news organizations, according to Ron Sams, vice president of sales, manroland web systems, Inc. Though there’s been an obvious hurry to publish electronically, monetizing that content has proven a challenge. Print is likely to be the strongest revenue performer for years to come, he predicted.
High-speed inkjet Web presses are the latest innovations to class of digital technology piquing publishers’ interests.

In the large-format digital inkjet category, resolutions on digital inkjets offer photographic quality, and flatbeds enable direct-to-substrate printing a wide array of media, including “exotic” materials like wood, glass, or bamboo. Large-format inkjet printers may be of particularly interest to news organizations diversifying into events.

All categories of digital print engines have developed quickly; manufacturers have done an exceptional job at offering better, faster, less-expensive print. Though it’s unlikely that offset fades into oblivion anytime soon, digital print is offering a newspaper-production alternative for short-run publications.

“If you’re a newspaper of a significant size, it’s most likely that you’ve built enough volume among the titles that you’re printing, and that you have a decent workflow methodology that allows you to be as efficient as possible in terms of plate changes,” said Pat McGrew, evangelist for print, inkjet and production mail, Hewlett-Packard. “And think about all the amazing new plate technologies and prepress technologies that have come into the market even in the last five or six years. The ability to do short-run and not have the plate changes bankrupt you has changed the nature of offset printing. But that also makes it harder for those of us in the production digital side. To make a compelling case, we now have to look beyond the costs involved.”

Sams noted that a hybrid workflow—blending traditional offset presses with in-line digital inkjet heads—offers an entry-level path to personalized print.
“That inkjet head may have the ability to print a four-inch-wide band of information,” he said. “It can be text; it can be an image, but it’s printed at a running speed of 3,000-feet per minute. It is integrated into the offset workflow.”

Messaging could include special pricing, for example; the creative and marketing possibilities are limited only by one’s imagination. And targeted messages of this ilk should absolutely have some means of measuring the ad’s performance—a way to track the ad’s usage, such as a barcode or QR code, Sams said. It’s a powerful way to update static offset print, and to deliver performance data that advertisers are now accustomed to amassing via e-publishing.

Sams offered the example of a UK-based publisher, which has a lucrative single-copy sales business, but lacked insight into who was buying those newspapers. Using digital inkjet messaging, the publisher drives readers to its website, with free passes to access content otherwise locked down behind a paywall. It’s a way to not only attract those readers to the site, but also to gather insight about those readers, in order to market to them. The strategy has proven remarkably successful, according to Sams, who said the publisher reports as many as 150,000 readers have been converted to digital subscribers.

Gary Hall, senior director, plant operations at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, said that he’s been keeping tabs on the digital print market—keenly on the latest high-speed Web-fed inkjet devices—and though the news organization hasn’t yet made an investment of this kind, it almost assuredly will do so in the near future. He said that digital printing’s ability to customize print is most intriguing.

“You have opportunities to be edition-specific, address-specific, or advertising-specific, and you’re able to do that with very quick turnaround with digital printing,” he said.

“It also sparked our interest because it presents an opportunity for us to free up capacity on our offset presses. We have three KBA Commander offset presses that are of a pretty large scale, and considering the labor it takes to produce low-volume titles, they would probably work better on a digital press, as opposed to offset…The labor and consumable savings of moving some work from offset to a digital press is very appealing to us.”

Newspapers and More
McGrew noted that the European and Asian newspaper markets are thriving with projected growth on the rise rather than in decline. Offset presses are ubiquitous still, but digital print has begun to ingratiate itself into print and publishing circles there.

According to McGrew, a publisher in Belgium acquired a digital Web press and has grown a business of producing newspapers for expatriates. “The whole concept of ex-pat newspapers revolves around the idea that when people travel, they still want their hometown newspapers…Years ago, the only way to do that was to buy a copy that was flown to you,” she said. “In the interim now, it’s possible to read things online, but there’s still the tangible effect of newspapers.”

With its short-run and ultra-short-run sweet spot, digital printing is perfectly positioned to print these types of publications, and McGrew expects that more publishers and printers will partner to disseminate news in this way.

This same Hewlett-Packard customer in Belgium also has a contract with the European Union to print home-nation newspapers for its members. “Overnight, our customer receives the files from various publishers, prints them and delivers them to the members the next morning—the same way they’d be delivered at home. We have another customer in Italy that has a similar arrangement with Russian newspapers to print for a large group of Russian ex-pats living in northern Italy,” McGrew said. “The ex-pat story is one we’ve seen in Australia, in Asia and in Europe, but we don’t see that happening in the U.S. and it’s bizarre.”

The idea of using digital technologies to produce short-run publication and commercial print is starting to germinate here in the States, according to McGrew, who said that she recently worked with a publisher that had taken in commercial print customers in order to ensure the longevity of its three regional newspapers.
“They were using those same presses to produce high school and college newspapers, and also using their presses to produce inserts for other big dailies,” McGrew said.

“Once you have a digital press, what are the other business opportunities that present themselves to you—that walks and talks like a newspaper but isn’t a newspaper; it’s something else? Quite a few of our customers have been successful at selling the concept of something looks like a newspaper, but is actually marketing collateral,” McGrew added. She noted that another customer—a large European clothier is producing one-to-one newspaper-looking mailers with seven points of targeted personalization.
The campaign was a huge hit with young adults, McGrew said, and it was responsible for exponentially growing the brand’s loyalty program.

Hall said that publishers should absolutely be competing with commercial printers for work. “Here in Milwaukee we’re trying to do just that and become a leading regional print site.” The print department currently produces as many as 32 other titles for suburban communities, and those community-type papers have seen circulation declines just like the larger papers in the region. “We’ve seen a lot of those titles go down to as few as 600 copies,” he said, “and when you look at the opportunity that digital presents, it makes sense to move those smaller publications onto digital presses as opposed to the large offset lines.”

And there’s no shortage of “other than newspapers” types of print that publishers will be perfectly equipped to produce, manufacture, and even deliver—things like marketing collateral, print ads, inserts, catalogs, programmatic ad campaigns and custom publishing projects.

Whether they’re printing in-house or through a partner, Sams suggested that all news publishers should think about how to capitalize on one of their greatest assets—their reach. “Newspapers have great distribution networks, and to leverage that network is a natural extension of what they’ve done for years. They’ve distributed newspapers, magazines, catalogs—all kinds of things—to homes and businesses. I think that stepping out there and printing some of that stuff makes a heck of a lot of sense.”

There are formidable challenges ahead for news publishers. Advertising revenues have been halved from what they were just a decade ago, said Sams. Digital print will impact how media companies produce print in the very near future, he predicted: “The company that has good assets will print digitally, and the ones lack good assets are going to have to look for a partner that can print digitally.”

Though the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s recent year’s focus has been purposely on how best to publish in electronic platforms, print remains an integral part of its publishing mission.
“We’ve been fortunate in that at the corporate level, our executive leadership has been a strong believer in print,” Hall said.

Selling new print services is going to require some organizational change, more cooperative efforts between sales, editorial and production, Hall said: “How are you going to break down the traditional departmental lines and work together to generate revenue?”

That’s the first question publishers should be addressing, he suggested: “What is the vision? What is the future direction? What is the five-year strategic plan? And once that’s identified, then you can determine the resources and capital investments needed to meet those needs.”

McGrew recalled a colleague who’d once spoken about a lack of imagination being the highest hurdle for digital printing. “You have to put on the table in front of them what all the real possibilities are when it comes to leveraging the power of digital,” she said. “To look at what digital can do versus offset? There are so many opportunities, including micro-advertising and micro-segmentation—the Holy Grail of marketing.”

 

Ricoh Acquires PTI Marketing Technologies to Help Customers Expand into Marketing Services

Ricoh today announced that it has acquired PTI Marketing Technologies, a premiere SaaS (software-as-a-service) marketing asset management and marketing solutions provider. The multi-million dollar acquisition ensures that Ricoh and PTI will continue to develop new marketing collateral management tools that help enterprises and commercial printers improve control of their marketing assets and workflow.
The acquisition illustrates Ricoh’s value to customers by providing a complete set of offerings to build, print, and manage marketing assets. It also further highlights Ricoh’s broader commitment to customers by providing unmatched services and solutions they need in order to succeed. The PTI acquisition follows Ricoh’s investment in PTI in August 2012 and its 2013 strategic investment in Avanti Computer Systems Limited, which complements Ricoh’s portfolio by enabling customers to streamline operations to help improve their bottom line with Avanti’s award-winning print MIS (management information system).
“Through our acquisition of this leading innovator in the marketing technology space, we can satisfy the growing customer demand for improved workflow and marketing asset management to further grow the value Ricoh brings to our global customers, particularly commercial printers and corporate print centers,” said Ted Takahashi, senior vice president, Production Print Global Marketing Center, Ricoh Company. “It’s also mutually beneficial to our customers: it will further enable Ricoh customers to leverage PTI’s innovative platform and comprehensive marketing asset management technology, while offering PTI customers more seamless access to the broad Ricoh hardware, software and services portfolio. It’s a win-win-win.”
Under the continued leadership of Coleman Kane, President and CEO of PTI, the team will fully leverage Ricoh to bring new technologies, software and services to market, enabling companies to drive relevant, multichannel marketing campaigns at the global, regional and local levels. PTI will continue to operate under its current name, management team and structure, at its Solana Beach, Calif. headquarters and Chicago office.
“We have worked closely with the Ricoh team around the world for many years, and this acquisition is the ultimate step in this great collaboration,” noted Kane. “I am confident that customers of all sizes and the many industries we serve will continue to see benefits from this successful relationship.”

Transcontinental Reports Its Q4 and Fiscal 2014 Results With Revenues Up 1.7 Percent

  • Transcontinental Inc.’s revenues increased 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter, from $562.6 million to $571.9 million. The increase is mainly due to the contribution from the acquisitions of Capri Packaging and the Quebec weekly newspapers owned by Sun Media Corp., as well as new printing and distribution agreements. This growth was partly offset by lower advertising revenues in both sectors.

In the fourth quarter, adjusted operating earnings rose 16.4 percent, from $83.4 million to $97.1 million. This performance stems from cost-reduction initiatives in both sectors and the positive impact of the share-price variance on the stock-based compensation expense, as well as the net contribution from acquisitions and disposals. It was partly offset by lower advertising revenues. Net earnings applicable to participating shares improved, from a loss of $94.5 million, or $1.21 per share, to a profit of $9.0 million, or $0.12 per share. This improvement is mainly due to a decrease in the asset impairment charge and an increase in adjusted operating earnings, partially offset by higher restructuring costs. Adjusted net earnings applicable to participating shares grew 20.6 percent, from $55.9 million, or $0.71 per share, to $67.4 million, or $0.87 per share.

Highlights of Fiscal 2014 
In 2014, TC Transcontinental’s revenues were down 1.3 percent, from $2,096.7 million to $2,069.4 million. The decrease is mainly due to lower advertising revenues in both sectors, particularly in our newspaper and marketing-products printing activities and our consumer magazine publishing activities, and to the sale of Rastar’s assets. The decline was partially offset by the contribution from new distribution, newspaper-printing and magazine-printing agreements, and from acquisitions.

Adjusted operating earnings was up 10.2 percent, from $233.6 million to $257.4 million, due to cost-reduction initiatives in our two sectors, the positive impact of the share-price variance on the stock-based compensation expense and the net contribution from acquisitions and disposals. This increase was, however, mitigated by lower revenues, as noted above. Net earnings applicable to participating shares improved, from a loss of $23.4 million, or $0.30 per share, to a profit of $105.1 million, or $1.35 per share. This improvement stems mainly from a lower asset impairment charge in 2014 and an increase in our adjusted operating earnings, partially offset by higher restructuring and other costs. Excluding unusual items, adjusted net earnings applicable to participating shares rose 13.4 percent, from $148.3 million, or $1.90 per share, to $168.2 million, or $2.16 per share.

“We had an excellent year in fiscal 2014, thanks to all the initiatives we rolled out during the year,” said François Olivier, president and CEO of TC Transcontinental. “Our solid performance is the result of our sales development efforts, the optimization of our cost structure and the proactive management of our portfolio of assets. All these actions more than offset the impact of a challenging advertising market in 2014.”

Olivier continued: More specifically, we signed new printing and distribution agreements, consolidated the weekly newspaper market in Quebec and diversified our operations by investing in a new area of growth, flexible packaging. We also divested certain segments that no longer met our growth requirements and continued to adapt our cost structure to market realities. We believe that by continuing to maximize our printing platform, by strengthening the Media Sector, by growing our digital offering and by developing the packaging division we will be able to keep generating significant cash flows and maintain our excellent financial position so that we can continue our transformation.”

Other Highlights of Fiscal 2014

  • The corporation completed the acquisition of the assets of Capri Packaging, a supplier of flexible packaging solutions, operating two facilities located in Clinton, MO. The acquisition will add about US$72 million to Transcontinental Inc.’s revenues. As part of the transaction, the seller, Schreiber Foods has signed a 10-year agreement to secure Capri Packaging as a strategic supplier of flexible packaging, which represents about 75 percent of Capri’s total revenues.
  • To maintain its financial flexibility, the Corporation signed a private financing agreement for $250 million in senior unsecured notes at a rate of 3.897 percent due in 2019. The Corporation also exercised its right to redeem all outstanding Preferred Shares on October 15, 2014, for a total of $100 million. Lastly, the corporation extended its credit facility for two additional years, until February 2020.
  • Transcontinental Inc. completed the acquisition of the Quebec weekly newspapers and their related Web properties owned by Sun Media Corporation. This transaction will add about $20 million to Transcontinental Inc.’s operating earnings before amortization. Furthermore, with the conclusion of this transaction, the TC Media consolidated newspaper portfolio in Quebec now contains more than 110 titles.
  • The corporation recorded a $41.4 million charge for restructuring and other costs, related to the completion of the integration of the operations of Quad/Graphics Canada and to workforce reductions stemming from the integration of the weekly newspapers acquired from Sun Media.
  • Transcontinental Inc. signed a definitive agreement to sell all its consumer magazines, their Websites and all related platforms produced in Montreal and Toronto to TVA Group for $55.5 million. This transaction, which is subject to approval by regulators, including the Competition Bureau, also covers the printing of the magazines being sold, as well as the extension to 2022 of the contract signed in December 2013 to print some of TVA Group. publications.

For more detailed financial information, please see Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2014, as well as the financial statements in the “Investors” section visit: www.tc.tc

Outlook
New agreements to print newspapers and flyers should contribute to Transcontinental’s operating earnings and we will continue our efforts to attract other Canadian newspaper publishers to our highly efficient print network. It will also keep developing solutions to meet the evolving needs of retailers. Furthermore, the recently announced closures of some printing plants will allow it to consolidate production in more technologically advanced facilities, which should improve efficiency. However, the printing of magazines, newspapers, books and marketing products will still be affected by declining revenues, primarily due to decreased advertising spending. The company will therefore focus on maximizing the profitability of our printing platform in fiscal 2015.

The integration of Capri Packaging is ongoing, as is the development of this promising new avenue of growth in the production of flexible packaging solutions. In the short term, the company will seek to improve efficiency and organic sales growth with our current and prospective clients. Results in this niche continue to meet its expectations and its approach to growth opportunities will be a disciplined one.

The disposition, subject to regulatory clearances, of its consumer magazines will allow it to focus on the greater business opportunities in the local advertising market. Going forward, following the regulatory approval of our acquisition of the Quebec weekly newspapers owned by Sun Media, Transcontinental expects to achieve about $20 million in synergies, primarily in 2015, which should offset the decline in the local advertising market. Given the challenging conditions in the advertising market, it will make further adjustments to our cost structure and continue to develop our digital and interactive marketing products for retailers, among others, and enhance our business and education offerings.

The company will continue to generate significant cash flows in the short-term, and its excellent financial position should permit us to continue applying our multi-pronged capital management approach, which allows it to reduce our debt, pay dividends and invest in its transformation. Transcontinental has also secured long-term financing to preserve the financial flexibility required to implement its growth strategy. Its printing operations will therefore continue to get the most out of its highly efficient network and its two sectors will concentrate on their core competencies in order to improve profitability and further our transformation.

 

Best Buy Goes More Sustainable, Shifting Some Business Away from Resolute Forest Products

Resolute Forest Products may be losing some of its business with Best Buy. The American-based electronics retailer announced Tuesday that it’s looking at potential new paper suppliers.

Greenpeace said in a news release last month that Best Buy was using over 100 million pounds of paper to produce its flyers, from one of the world’s last remaining ancient forests.

Best Buy said it’s going to require companies including Resolute to provide paper from operations certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. It said it intends to increase the number of vendors it relies on, and will “meaningfully shift business” away from Resolute, its current primary supplier…