China Print: Shifts to a new approach

Rahul Kumar attends the Media Week at China Print, and grasps how the show is living on expectations from China’s double digit growth of three decades and $7.4 trillion GDP

18 Apr 2013 | By Rahul Kumar

Global economies spent 2012 in turmoil. Hardly surprising then that 2013, is being speculated as the year of China.  The timing is apt. Since China is hosting the eighth edition of the China Print perhaps “the second largest exhibition of the industry after Drupa”. Not surprisingly, the global graphic arts industry is living on high expectation from the show.

As a pre-cursor to the event, organisers of China Print 2013 organised an International Media Week in Beijing on 8-9 January. It also included a day seminar on 8 January at Hotel Radisson Blu, Beijing and a visit to the Tianjin Industrial Area and post-press equipment manufacturer’s Masterwork Machinery’s plant.

Addressing the group of more than 100 media delegates from 20 countries, Yu Zhen, chairman of China Machinery Industry Federation (CMIF) and PEIAC began delivering his speech by saying, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” These words by British poet Shelley allayed the general “gloom and doom” among the media fraternity.

“China’s Economy has maintained a double digit annual growth for last 30 years. China has become a country with a large printing market, but it is still far from becoming a strong printing country. But generally speaking, the future is promising,” he continues.

The recent statistics from GAPP (General Administration of Press and Publication) also supports his comment and shows that annual output value of China’s press and publication industry has exceeded 1.5 trillion RMB in 2011.

In 2011, China’s annual GDP was 47.3 trillion RMB (approximately $7.4 trillion), ranking number two worldwide. The international economic crisis has brought great difficulties to China’s economy also but it is estimated that China’s annual GDP growth could reach 7.5% in 2012 and by the year of 2020, it is estimated that the annual GDP and income per capital will double comparing with 2010.

The total output value of the printing industry has increased from 4.8 billion RMB in 1978 to 867.7 billion RMB in 2011, which is a staggering growth of 180 times. It is estimated that by the end of the 12 five-year plan (till 2016) of China, the output value of news and publication industry in the country will reach three trillion RMB.

“Interestingly, a 3D printing store found a home in Xian city. The supporters for 3D printing technology has found evangelists from varying industries. Printing technologies have been adopted in other industries such as construction materials, textile, creative, new energy, RFID, semiconductor, etc. Experts have predicted that ‘every matter could be printed except air and water in the near future,” Yu Zhen says.

Transporting the discussion back to the Media Week, on 9 January leading exhibitors including Heidelberg, HP, Manroland, Komori, Konica Minolta, Founder, Shanghai Electric Printing and Packaging Machinery Group, Beiren Group and Cron shared their plans about China Print.

This was followed with a guided tour to Tianjin Masterwork’s factory, and a visit to the economic development zone for first-hand experience of the development of China’s printing enterprises.

 China Print 2013: bigger and better

Yu Ping, vice chairman of China Council for the promotion of International trade (CCPIT), confirms that the total show space of China Print 2103 will reach 160,000 sqm and the estimated visitors entries will exceed 180,000 with over 1,000 exhibitors, growing by 60% comparing with last event. Already, 1.06 lakh sqm of NCIEC indoor show space have been sold. The organisers plan to build 16 temporary halls to meet the exhibitors’ demand.

“The theme of China Print 2013 is ‘Green, Efficient, Digital and Intelligent’. I think the subject shows the developing trend of printing equipment manufacturing technology, which is also consistent with the national industrial policy,” shares Wu Feng, official of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of PRC (MIIT).

Most of the major equipment manufacturers of the industry have already divulged their plans for the show. While domestic famous manufacturers as Shanghai Electrics, Beiren Group, Hans-Gronhi, Masterwork, and Founder will exhibit with large scale, digital printing press manufacturers such as HP increased its booth from 1000 sqm in 2009 to 3600 sqm in 2013. Kodak, Canon, Ricoh, Fuji, Konica Minolta would also attend with large exhibiting area.

Global buyers on radar
In order to promote the China Print, the organisers have launched an online business-matching service. Buyers have started making plans to visit China Print 2013.

The third Forum-PI, Asia Print Annual Meeting, Global Print Secretary-general Meeting, Opening Ceremony Banquet, China Print Awards and other meetings of local printing associations will also be held concurrent to the China Print 2013. At the same time, a series of activities covering digital printing, green, standard, packaging, label, and inkjet area have been scheduled. For example, the International Function Materials Forum and the G7 Printing Standard Forum will be held during China Print 2013.

Web to print solutions finds flavour
While print equipment manufacturers insist that paper print business has witnessed a fall, it is web to print solutions, which has found favour among a majority of the exhibitors.

Ikuo Nakagawa, general manager, Konica Minolta  (China), says, “Printing is down by around 40% in the last 10 years. Offset printing and paper publishing is down but web to print is coming up. We will display some new models of digital production presses catering to the colour and mono printing market at the exhibition, but these models won’t be launched immediately in China market. “Print Square” is our web to print solution and important for us. We launched this project in Shanghai and will exhibit it in China Print 2013.”

Toshiyuki Tsugawa, chief representative of Greater China, Komori Corporation says, “Digital printing and internet is helpful for web to print. Orders for web to print come in short demand with fast delivery. Solutions for packaging printing and PEI products will be shown at China Print 2013 and we will also launch our digital printing press there.”

Zhang Xuehong, Great China marketing manager of Kodak claims that Kodak China is growing with double digit growth, digital and packaging printing are growing. “Around 75% of our business is from digital printing market. Security printing is also a multi-millionaire industry here,” she adds.

Tian Jing, catalog manager of Founder Group points that the myth of availability of cheap labour in China has finally been busted. “Nowadays we are facing two major changes including hike in labour charges and raw material cost. So our manufacturing cost is also going high. Web to print is a fast growing market and players are few and cloud computing technology is also in the market and useful,” she says. 

Six printing trends: China Print Industry
1.  Short print run is in demand: The industry in China too has been treading the path towards short-run jobs. This is evident from the fact that a large number of digital players have invested in huge stands and are vociferously supporting the web to print technologies.

2.  CStrong infrastructure and government support: China Print has also received tremendous support from various government departments in its 30 years of development. It has been enlisted as an officially supported exhibition of MOFCOM China in April 2012. In May 2012, Xu Jianguo, chairman of PEIAC and president of Shanghai Eclectics Group, was elected the vice chairman of Global Print federation.

3.  Digital, web to print and cloud base solutions: InfoTrends’ research shows the China Print On Demand market will have an 18.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) on the overall retail value of print of between 2010 through 2015. Security printing is also a multi-millionaire industry. Digital printing solutions for documents, packaging, books, and publishing are also in great demand. Web to print is a fast growing market and the players are few. Cloud computing technology is a developing market.

4. Higher wages and higher raw material cost: Tian Jing, catalogue manager of Founder Group notes that the China printing industry is facing two major changes: hike in labour charges and raw material cost. Manufacturing cost has shown an upward curve. In fact, Jing notes claims that 78% of print jobs are worth less than 5000 RMB.

5. Dedication for printing packaging and packaging industry: To give a perspective on the size of the printing industry in China, in 2010 there were over 100,000 printing companies employing 3.8 million people. According to Andy & Julie Plata, co-CEOs of the OutputLinks Communications Group, three main industrial areas of printing were formed in 2009 and the government has been constantly investing in developing these belts.  Around 20,000 printing companies in the Perl River Delta area (based on Guangdong) depend on exports from HK & Macao; 27,494 printing companies in the Yangzi River Delta area based in Shanghai; and 19,936 printing firms in the Ring Bohai area based on Beijing.

6. Project green: Carbon emissions are taking serious shape as part of the industrial policy to guide the direction of the Chinese printing service like book and catalogue printing. With the development of the trend of environmental protection, green print china is bound to be the primary goal of the entire printing industry and the development of related industries. Green printing is a systematic project involving printing machinery, equipment and raw materials, the production environment and the technical process of printing companies in China.