Mastering the Market
Manufacturers continue to shift toward cut sheets and finishing services
By Barbara A. Bucci
Plain vanilla products continue to disappear from the forms industry's product menus. In order to stay competitive, manufacturers are introducing new products within their area of expertise.
Obviously, diversification follows market demand. As end-users demand shorter runs, printed cut sheets, variable imaging, document management and finishing services, manufacturers must deliver.
Responses from the Business Forms, Labels & Systems' exclusive state of the industry survey revealed how manufacturers have responded to market changes.
Equipment Leads the Way
In order to diversify, manufacturers have purchased new equipment or enhancements to existing machinery--notably rotary and sheetfed presses.
Of the respondents, 45.7 percent of forms manufacturers have added rotary presses.
"Rotary presses are best for direct mail applications and promotional printing. They provide flexibility in the size of the paper at the end of the production run," said Norman McLeod industry analyst and IBFI consultant. "They are also better for finishing processes like perfing, folding and spot gluing."
Additionally, the variable sizes and characteristics of rotary presses allow the production of 81ò2x11à forms. Continuous Forms and Checks (CFC), based in Peach-tree City, Ga., has equipped some of its rotary presses with high-end sheeting, batching and shrink-wrapping capabilities to increase the company's capacity for cut sheet products.
"We'll run short to medium runs of 81ò2x11à laser cut sheets," noted Casey Campbell, vice president of marketing. "We are equipping ourselves to meet strong market demand for cut sheets."
Likewise, Columbus, Kan.-based Calibrated Forms runs cut sheets from two of its 34 rotary presses. The company bought one press specifically for a new cut sheet product line. It upgraded another.
By contrast, only 5.7 percent of manufacturer respondents have added digital presses and 8.5 percent have implemented digital printing. This low number may be attributed to digital press purchases of the past five years. McLeod believes that manufacturers then rushed to buy digital presses, thus decreasing current demand for this equipment.