In hindsight, Web 2.0 is now the descriptor for the foundation of user-generated content manifested most obviously as billion-dollar social media platforms. It has created completely new businesses amassing enormous wealth – in a matter of years as opposed to decades – as younger generations successfully tap into a robust online economy.
Industry 4.0 is a much more relevant evolutionary term for the printing industry. Unlike Web 2.0, which certainly drove the Internet to become a GDP factor, Industry 4.0 ultimately involves the deployment of tangible goods, factories, machines and equipment.
The Internet of Things is an important business term to understand, but perhaps more of an acknowledgement for the revolutionary – existing – network infrastructure built by the likes of Cisco, Sun and Oracle. Industry 4.0, which includes The Internet of Things amid its most prevailing and complicated definitions, is a term to describe the new wealth to be generated from an overdue return to industrialism.
For more than 50 years, the greatest business innovations to emerge out of stable economies have been generated around computing, from software and graphical user interfaces to processor chips and communications networks (both micro and macro). As Moore’s Law reaches its limit, which Intel’s CEO stated to be a reality in 2015, Industry 4.0 arrives for business visionaries to begin leveraging decades of computing power to drive industrial equipment.
Elon Musk, who was born in South Africa but also holds Canadian and American citizenships, is the ultimate Industry 4.0 visionary. In 1995, Musk and his brother, Kimbal, used a small family loan to start Zip2 and develop online city guides for newspaper publishers, leading to contracts with The New York Times and Chicago Tribune.
In 1999, Compaq acquired Zip2 for $307 million in cash and, within weeks, Musk’s proceeds co-founded an Internet-based financial services company called X.com. A year later, X.com merged with Confinity, which held a money transfer service called PayPal. Musk was PayPal’s largest shareholder when eBay bought it for $1.5 billion in 2002. Within weeks, Musk founded a new company called SpaceX with the ambitious goal of jumping the commercial space industry by building rockets.
With NASA’s retirement of its Space Shuttle program and mounting U.S. tensions with Russia, whose Soyuz rockets are today relied on by most space agencies to carry cargo and people beyond Earth’s gravitational influence, Musk saw opportunity to undercut the dormant astronautic activities of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Focused at the time on aeronautics, these defense giants reacted by forming the United Launch Alliance (ULA). Today, with a base $1.6 billion NASA contract for 12 resupply flights, it costs SpaceX around $60 million to launch a payload aboard one of its Falcon 9 rockets. A ULA launch costs around $225 million – Space Shuttle missions were upwards of $1.5 billion per launch, depending on cargo.
Driven to make money, SpaceX developed a reusable Falcon 9 rocket (first stage) that in 2016 has twice successfully returned to Earth, landing on barge in the middle of the ocean after delivering an ISS payload. A SpaceX launch burns relatively little in fuel ($300,000), meaning there are significant cost savings with a reusable first stage rocket. The company estimates it would save 30 percent, around $43 million a launch.
Commercial space company Blue Origin, controlled by another online magnet in Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos, has also successfully landed reusable rockets, although much smaller. None of this would be possible without taking advantage of Industry 4.0, applying incredible processing power to industrial equipment.
Tesla is another prime example of Musk’s Industry 4.0 leadership, applying processing power to self-drive his battery-powered Tesla cars. Robotics will play a major role in Industry 4.0 and happen to be a Canadian specialty – driven by the Canadian Space Agency.
Robotics will become a force for all manufacturing. Industry 4.0 is well underway and it is a positive development for the printing industry, which has lived on the edges of this business term for decades, processing billions of bits and bytes to million-dollar machines, offset, inkjet and toner. An industry that spent the past two decades forcing its machines to speak fluently with each other is ready for Industry 4.0.
What can Buddy Guy’s blues band teach us about collaboration? Buddy Guy, the Chicago blues guitarist whom Eric Clapton once called “the best guitarist alive”, is still touring with his Damn Right Blues Band at 79 years of age. I’m a fan and play a bit of music each week because it feels so good to get together with friends and jam. A live blues band is an improvisational exercise in collaboration and innovation. Could that be an analogy for the printing business these days?
I drove down to Buffalo with a fellow blues/jazz fan to see Buddy last month. We both love live music. Buddy opened by telling the adoring crowd, “I’m not sure what’s going to happen tonight. It keeps my band on their toes. There will be some surprises.” And that, in a nutshell, is why I love live blues and jazz music. It is spontaneous and, to do it well, all the players must effectively communicate what’s going on in the moment, where the tune is going and who’s going to take the lead and when. The skill with which a great band navigates this tricky live improvisational experience is what I admire most.
The key is clear communications and exchange of information among the players. The drummer gets a cue to end a song from the subtle lifting of the guitar neck, a slight nod signals a soloist to begin, a hand in the air telegraphs the bridge and a tap on the head means take it to the top. Hold up three fingers at the start of a song and you signal the three flats in the key of E.
Enough riffing on the music, this brings me to how we manage internal business communications, which is increasingly becoming an experience of working in the moment. Sharing, collaborating and being prepared for improvising in new business situations has never been easier. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are the foundation of great customer experiences, because they allow for the easy sharing of information among your team about the customer’s contact information, the stage in the sales pipeline and recent communications with them. Most high-end
Management Information Systems today have integrated dashboards for sales reps to help manage clients, but CRM is well supported by tools such as VOIP phones, chat tools and video conferencing. There are so many channels to engage with a customer and also to exchange information amongst your employees to make great music together. I have worked with several of these CRM and VOIP tools that have proved beneficial in the fast-paced printing business.
Let’s start with the CRM tools. These are basically the recent digital take on the paper Rolodex or address book. When all of your company can share addresses and contact information, you will be a stronger organization for it. Best of all, most are in the cloud, so they are scalable, mobile friendly and available wherever your team works. There will be no more time wasted searching out the right contact name for a customer or wondering who is the main contact, who pays the invoices or who has left the operation. Our CRM also keeps a log of all email back and forth between clients and the company. It simplifies understanding the state of a project and acts as a record of past exchanges.
CRM is often associated with tracking the sales pipeline. This simply means that “opportunities” are logged in this central repository and this makes it possible to see how sales targets are being met, where leads are coming from and who is cultivating them at what stage – all great information to help you understand how your sales efforts are progressing. You can even automate some steps. For instance, when a new client is added or a sale completed, the sales manager can receive an email notification alert (the CRM equivalent of a guitar neck lift to signal the end of a song). The latest twist on this is the link between online forms, social media follows and your CRM. In other words, every point where a customer interacts with your company can be tracked and managed from the best CRM tools. It is now easy to compare different CRM tools functionality and an extra hour of research will find the best tool (at the right cost) for your employees. It’s like the whole band is facing each other, has eye contact and can see where the improvised tune is headed. Companies just perform better when they can collaborate easily.
Even vendor information can be kept on the CRM, so nobody at your firm is scrambling trying to find the name of that special source for cartons, blade sharpening or specialty ink. Once you add a vendor name, the best practice is to add a few searchable keywords to make finding them easy. We add “plumber”, “electrician” and so on to our vendor names. You can even decide to rate your vendors so that others at the firm know if your electrician arrived late, charged too much or was the friendliest one you’d ever met. This just makes it easier to manage vendors of services, ink, paper, whatever else you purchase in the course of business.
But the communication exchange can also benefit from new channels available at low cost. Some we are familiar with, and some we do not associate with business. Nearly all of us send SMS text messages these days. Our mobile devices help us connect with family and friends and increasingly with work. Having an internal chat tool (Google for Work has one built in) can mean time savings when quick answers are required. Messenger, now part of Facebook, is a growing tool for chat and even has a phone/video feature. You may be wondering why you’d use a Facebook tool in your print business, but you only have to ask the 900 million users (up 700 million in two years) about the benefits, or listen to Mark Zuckerberg’s latest 10-year plan to use Messenger in new ways in our business life.
I’m also a fan of VOIP phones as they help make collaboration easier. We once thought it was good enough to have a toll-free number, but nowadays you want to be able to have your calls follow your employees to their mobile devices, and offer easy conferencing and transferring, even if they are working from home or from a mobile device. VOIP seems to offer the widest number of options for making phone communications more effective at work.
But don’t think that just having tools will make the whole thing gel. Your band of employees have to rehearse. By this I mean that they need to be trained and work out the new etiquette for these channels of communication. When should they choose Chat over an email and when should I invite a colleague to join me on a call or share a video of a bindery process with a repairman so they can see what is acting up in the plant? Without having some policies and sharing best practices among your team, however, you’ll have a train wreck (that’s band talk for a song gone off the rails).
These channels are constantly evolving. You cannot wait for it to all settle and then make your move. Start tuning up your internal and customer communications today and you’ll all make pretty music together, and maybe a bit more money too, as the experience improves and your costs to manage collaboration reduce.
Tips on preparing your business for loss before having to turn unprepared to an insurance claim (originally published in PrintAction June 2016 magazine).
Think taking a terror-filled ride on Zumanjaro is the ultimate scariest you could possibly feel? Then you probably have not been through the life-changing horror of a major insurance claim. No doubt about it, the Six Flags Great Adventure ride in New Jersey is sure to suck the life out of you with its 415-foot drop reaching 90 miles per hour in just 10 seconds. Getting a phone call explaining that your building is on fire or the roof collapsed, however, will overcome any fears of Zumanjaro.
There are so many angles to an insurance claim that it is virtually impossible to write a guidance manual on what to do, how to do it, or – even more importantly – how to avoid the possibility of seeing your hard-earned work collapse in rubble. But there are ways and means to help prevent insurance catastrophes and I’d like to share some with you.
Protecting your investment
Every establishment has some type of insurance policy, but coverage is such a boring and mundane topic most of us do not dwell on it and quickly file documents away once established. Business interruption coverage is very common, but if a claim is made there is plenty of work the insured must do to prove the loss and this may come as a surprise to some. First suggestion: Keep good records and keep those records updated and in a safe place.
Over the years, I have worked on both sides of an insurance claim. I’ve been hired by insurance firms, adjusters, forensic investigators, public adjusters, as well as the insured themselves. Having seen both sides of the equation, it becomes quite clear how much knowledge and communication is lacking.
A good example is a file on which I was engaged by the insured. This company runs a profitable and well-organized business. A major weather-related structural failure in part of the company’s plant caused half of its machinery to become involved in a serious claim due to water and falling infrastructure. Months later, I was called to come and access some of the damaged machinery.
The claim had gone nowhere and, as is quite typical, the insured called in a public adjuster. Public adjusters are firms that work specifically for the insured and not the insurance company. This happens quite often when things get testy between parties. They are well versed on the protocols of a claim and the mechanics required to settle one. Public adjusters typically work for a percentage of the claim and this comes out of the insured’s settlement. In this case, the machinery sat exposed and rusting in the elements. To make matters worse, the surrounding areas were dangerous and essentially off limits.
At the on-site meeting about the accident, you could cut the tension and anger with a knife. Adjusters are firms that are hired by insurance companies to access and recommend needed steps to get the insured back up and running. Although the majority of adjusters are competent, as with any industry, there are also some disappointments and blow-hards that work to grind the claim process to a virtual halt. Obviously, insurance companies know they have responsibilities but they also want to mitigate the claims and pay out as little as they can. The word mitigate is important here, because it is not as well discussed that the insured must also try to mitigate their claim too, taking any steps to preserve or reduce damage to equipment and furnishings.
In this case, we had a disturbing adjuster who seemed to relish his role and enjoy the fact he was being paid handsomely to travel across the country, write reports, argue the merits of visible damage and drive just about everyone – especially the insured – to look for sharp objects.
Dealing with claims
After months of deadlock, thousands of dollars spent to argue the claim, total disruption of their scheduling, lack of key machinery. which in this case was very specific and hard to replace, it came down to total anger. Usually a competent adjuster can come up with a good plan. He or she knows, that when it comes to machinery, the best the manufacturer can do is provide a ballpark repair quote and a new replacement price. But what happens when the repair comes without a firm warranty? In almost all cases, it does not. And so the claim discussion moves forward around getting new replacement machinery, which is a significant discussion point to understand.
Talk to your agent and tell them you wish to be covered for full new replacement. If not, the claim continues down a rabbit hole: “The press is 12 years old? Then we need to value such an asset prior to the claim.” This is the essential problem and an active files quickly becomes a bickering and depressing period that can take years to settle and will in the end, probably – surely – mean you will come out of the whole ordeal worse off than you were before. Even with various opinions and quotations (for repairs), if the adjuster is lacking in specific knowledge and does not go out and seek someone who can provide this, then it may be impossible for both the insurer and the insured to agree on a fair settlement.
There is, of course, another side to the insurance business in faulty claims or at the very least a case of very suspicious origins. We were called in by an insurance company over a claim to do with one machine – almost brand new. The story was an apparent break-in and vandalism on the press. Rags and paper were set alight placed on various parts of the press and a few control cabinets were tipped over. The heat activated the sprinklers which then put out the fire but drenched everything in the plant including offices.
There was something wrong here. I felt it and was rather surprised when I discussed my thoughts with the insurance rep. He didn’t much care really. He told me that the integrity of the insured really didn’t matter much. Insurance had to quantify the claim and close the file. But this was an exception and it should be noted, having worked many times on the insurance side, very little is left unknown when investigators get to work. They will know where the “oven” is, which is the term used by insurers in reference to the initial location of a fire. They will also be able to track the damage and spot oddities like accelerants. Forensic work like finding out about the financial wellbeing of a claimant is the norm not the exception. In the end, this printer was forced to close.
When there was still a very healthy business climate for printing machinery, we regularly bought and rebuilt countless machines. I remember one purchase vividly from in 1994, shortly after southern California had a major earthquake. Bridges collapsed, buildings were damaged, and all sorts of businesses had claims. One damaged printer had two 40-inch presses – a 6-colour and a 5-colour. The claim was settled before we were involved and I went to look at the machinery, which was now dismantled and sitting outside in a temporary tent.
The manufacturer’s service manager was there and he tried to explain to me that the earthquake had uplifted the machine from its leveling feet and somehow twisted the frames. His evidence was one elongated hole which was part of six holes on each unit that were bolt holes for assembly. One hole? Clearly whoever had taken apart the press had a whole lot of trouble getting one bolt out! There was obviously no damage to the frames – it was all nonsense. But the printer did get new machines and we did bring both machines back to life and eventually resold them. Some common sense could have saved somebody a lot of money.
Many damaged machines came through our plant: Lightning strikes, floods, transit (by water or road), but the most damage by far was caused by fire. Delivery fires are common – caused by filthy deliveries with lots of spray powder. Dropped sheets mixed with very hot infrared or UV lamps can cause tremendous damage.
Overheated motors such as ring blowers near the delivery, are another common reason. An obvious remedy is to keep machinery clean and free of debris. Another suggestion few think about is to have plenty of fire extinguishers around and know how to use them. This last one would have helped a UK company after its 6-colour double coater and double dryer (LYYLX) was set alight via a dropped sheet and interdeck UV lamp. That press took us over 6,000 man-hours to restore.
Insurance common sense
Over the years, we must have been involved in over 30 substantial rebuilding projects. Almost all were equipment that we purchased when a claim was settled. I learned to quantify costs of repairs using some basic grade-nine chemistry, calculating what temperatures were reached, how it affected the guts and understanding how cast iron has a memory. Heat-twisted cast iron will return to its original position with re-heating. Fires that occur near melted polyethylene and polypropylene (plastic skids for example), produce toxic gases and when mixed with water become an acid that will attack bare steel and cast iron.
I still see a great deal of waste within the insurance claim process when the wrong so-called experts are in a position to determine repairs. A good talker can needlessly cost both sides a lot of money.
So far I’ve yet to meet any insured who felt that they came out ahead after a claim. This should be a warning to everyone, that even though we have insurance, in the end, after all the pain and disruption, you will often wish you did not file a claim. Insurance is important and can save a business, but do not assume you’ll finally get rid of that old machine or upgrade your whole plant simply because you have business disruption coverage and replacement coverage. Take steps to protect your investments now. Do simple things like buy more fire extinguishers, improve your housekeeping, and update your records.
If a disaster happens, take steps to reduce your claim and get solid advice from a professional. Be completely honest and upfront. Do not try and pile-on things that will be spotted as marginal by a good adjuster. One final suggestion: consider increasing your deductible. You should be trying to prevent a life changing moment not small repairs like as a bolt going through a press. Raising your deductible can lower your premiums and even afford you the budget to increase your protection if and when the big claim hits.
That’s about all you can do and it’s really important that you do it now before something horrible happens. Zumanjaro is nicknamed the Drop of Doom. But you know that when you buckle in. Insurance claims can have the same moniker but be even more terrifying and without warning.
Crawford Technologies, which develops Enterprise Content Management tools out of Toronto, has been named as one of Canada’s fastest growing technology companies by the 15th annual Deloitte Technology Fast 50 awards. The Fast 50 program recognizes the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Canada, based on the percentage of revenue growth over five years.
“Canadian Fast 50 companies innovate, demonstrate entrepreneurship, create jobs, and invest in R&D,” stated Richard Lee, National Leader, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry Group, Deloitte. “Crawford Technologies is an example of a company that shows passion, determination and drive that are so important for growth in the Canadian technology sector.”
In the past five years, Crawford Technologies, led by President Ernie Crawford, reports a combined growth of 187 percent. “We are considered a premier international provider of print and mail solutions software,” stated Crawford. “Our customers include many of world’s largest banks, insurance, telecommunications companies and government organizations. They use our software to distribute billions of documents annually and require high levels of reliability and performance.”
Crawford Technologies states its tools have helped over 700 companies around the world to reduce costs associated with communications processes by delivering bills, statements and other mission-critical transactional communications. This includes alternate format documents in Braille, large print, audio and E-text for visually impaired and print-disabled customers.
To qualify for the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranking, companies must have been in business for at least five years, have revenues of at least $5 million, be headquartered in Canada, own proprietary technology, and conduct research and development activities in Canada.
The Globe and Mail will appear on doorsteps and newsstands with a new face on October 1 in what the newspaper describes as "the most significant changes in The Globe's history." The paper will upgrade to include colour on every page and also offer special stock paper and print options to advertisers.
"The Globe and Mail is embarking on a new era that once again demonstrates our commitment to the newspaper business. We're investing to change the way our readers experience the news - in print, online and on the go," said Phillip Crawley, Publisher and CEO of The Globe and Mail. "We will continue to set the agenda for news in Canada and stimulate conversation with our readers - in classrooms, boardrooms and living rooms. That's the future of media, and what our readers and partners can expect from The Globe and Mail."
The newspaper's website will also see a refresh to improve functionality and navigation while providing greater visual presentation.
The redesign is driven by a new long-term contract with Transcontinental Inc. that provides The Globe with market-leading printing technology currently used by only five other newspapers in the world, none of which are in Canada. In 2008, the two companies signed a 18-year contract to print The Globe and Mail, a deal worth $1.7 billion. Transcontinental pledged $200 million to create a Canada-wide platform for the paper which integrates both the printing of the paper as well as its flyers, allegedly the first system to do so in Canada.
The Globe and Mail has been published since 1844 and today is owned by CTVglobemedia. It has a circulation of about 2.8 million each week.
As a manufacturer of food, beverage and consumer paperboard packaging, Boehmer Box LP is celebrating more than three years without a lost-time accident, which is significant based on the Kitchener company's 24/7 production schedule. This milestone translates to surpassing 1-million hours worked without a lost-time accident. Boehmer Box employees more than 270 people.
“Safety is not an option in today’s workplace,” stated Mark Caines, Boehmer Box President and COO. “Employees are our most valuable asset and the workplace must be structured in a manner that allows them to work safely and effectively."
Among the initiatives designed to improve its safety record, Boehmer Box implemented a ticketing program in which safety-committee representatives cite employees, supervisors and executives when they have committed a safety violation of any sort.
“This is a way to educate everybody about improving workplace safety and to encourage them to take ownership of it,” explained Ray Redmond, Boehmer’s Safety Coordinator, who is Co-chair of the company's Health and Safety Committee. “A safety ticket results in training, policy and procedural changes, and/or discipline, depending on the circumstances.”
Boehmer Box also educates employees on well-being issues like physical activity, tobacco-free living, healthy eating, sun protection, immunization, road safety, stress reduction and work-life balance. Together these initiatives helped the company recently earn a Healthy Workplace Silver Award from the Region of Waterloo Public Health.
“A lot of companies will say safety is first, but the difference here is that it truly is,” said Redmond. “Management doesn’t just give workplace safety lip service — they back our safety committee 100 percent.”
Founded in 1874, Boehmer Box is now part of Toronto-based parent company Canampac ULC, which also holds divisions Strathcona Paper LP and LYFT Visual. Canampac was formed in 2006 when Greenwich, Connecticut-based Atlas Holdings LLC acquired Boehmer Box and paperboard manufacturer Strathcona Paper.
With operations in the United States, Canada and Europe, Atlas has more than 40 facilities and 3,300 employees.
For the seventh consecutive year, St. Joseph Communications, self-described as Canada’s largest privately owned communications company, achieved Platinum Club member status within the Deloitte-sponsored program called Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies.
“This designation exemplifies consistency, commitment and the ability to be flexible in a changing marketplace. These qualities are what make St. Joseph such a great business success story and one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies,” stated John Hughes of the Private Company Services group with Deloitte. The program has a system to re-qualify previous winners.
In 2009, St. Joseph Communications announced an initiative to build a 17-acre print communications campus at its headquarters in Concord, Ontario, emphasizing the growth from what began as a small Toronto-based printer in 1956. A press release pertaining to St. Joseph’s inclusion on this year’s 50 Best Managed list also points to the company’s launch of 20minutesupperclub.com, as well as expanded Web-to-print capabilities and its digital signage division, Alchemy.
“We are honoured to earn the top recognition of this prestigious award program, especially within a year that presented a unique set of challenges to the industry,” stated Tony Gagliano, Executive Chairman and CEO of St. Joseph. “To be recognized now for seven consecutive years is a testament to the partnerships we have formed with all our stakeholders and the talent and dedication of our employees across Canada.”
The winners of the Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies 2009 award, along with Requalified and Platinum Club members, will be honoured at a gala in Toronto on March 8, 2010.
Harvard business professor, Mary Tripsas, writes in The New York Times about why firms should question their identity, right down to the company’s name, featuring an interview with Fujifilm CEO Shigetaka Komori.
Entitled When Names Change to Protect the Future, Tripsas’ article appeared in The NY Times’ Sunday (November 29) Business section. Within the article, Shigetaka Komori, addresses why Fujifilm maintained its identity by keeping the outdated “film” moniker in its name. Much of the printing industry was surprised when that decision was made back in 2006, after Fujifilm underwent a massive re-branding.
Tripsas writes: “These moves symbolize fundamental shifts in how these companies see themselves and how others perceive them. In short, they signify a change in identity. How a company responds to today’s tumultuous technological and competitive landscape depends greatly on how it defines itself or, in some cases, redefines itself.”
Komori, whose career began at Fuji Photo Film in 1963, was instrumental in the large-scale reorganization of Fujifilm over the past decade, moving the company out of its 1990s dependence on analogue photosensitive materials. Last month, while noting his work in restructuring Fujifilm, the Emperor of Japan awarded Komori with the Order of the Rising Sun.
Read the NY Times article
Transcontinental sells specialty media assets to Contex Group, Newcom MediaTC Transcontinental has sold the majority of its specialty media…
TC Transcontinental acquires Holland & Crosby, growing in-store marketing product printingTC Transcontinental has acquired Holland & Crosby Limited, a manufacturing…
Canadian printers among this year’s fastest-growing companies rankingParagraph, StickerYou and Beneco Packaging are just some of the…
The Toronto Club of Printing House Craftsmen closes after 100 yearsThe Toronto Club of Printing House Craftsmen, a division of…
Printing United 19
October 23-25, 2019
Canadian Printing Awards Gala 2019
November 7, 2019
Canadian Print Scholarships Launchpad Reception @ Ryerson
November 13, 2019
Digital Textile Printing Conference 2019
December 11-12, 2019
June 16-26, 2020
Labelexpo Americas 2020
September 15-17, 2020