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5 Markets for New Revenue Opportunities

8 Aug, 2011 By: Penny Holland, Océ North America imageSource

5 Markets for New Revenue Opportunities

The economic recession has hit the architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) market hard. In turn, the wide format equipment dealers who rely heavily on this revenue source have also faced challenging times. But for those willing to expand their focus to address the wide format printing needs in other sectors, there is significant opportunity for growth.

Similar to the AEC market, companies in utility services, manufacturing, retail and government require wide format systems that can handle complex information and meet their ever-expanding needs. For companies using CAD and geographic information system (GIS) technologies, there is often an increased need for color data to effectively communicate detailed information in the drawings used in 3D renderings, GIS maps and satellite photos utilized in CAD applications.

The growing needs of companies in these markets present an opportunity for equipment dealers to provide the advanced print/copy/scan systems needed to fully realize the benefits of the latest CAD and GIS technologies, enhancing their own operations and to better serve their customers. Dealers that are open to expanding offerings to these markets and have a solid understanding of each market’s needs are poised to generate new revenue streams. Outlined below are five markets, and their associated wide format printing needs, that present the greatest opportunity for wide format equipment dealers.

Utility Market
The utility market is comprised of three distinct industries: water and sewage, electric power generation and distribution, and natural gas distribution. Among these three sectors there are thousands of companies providing utility services in the U.S., ranging from rural cooperative utilities owned by the customers they serve to publicly owned utilities including cooperative and municipal utilities. Regardless of type, all utility companies have requirements for wide format printing – either for maintenance and improvement of their infrastructure or for disaster recovery.

 Since utility companies have a need to print large quantities of maps and grids – usually the result of a crisis such as electrical outages, natural gas line disruptions or sewer pipeline bursts – wide format printing is very much a part of the traditional workflow. In these situations, it is important for utility companies to both maintain their infrastructure and respond to crisis situations by providing fast access to required information.

Due to the complexity and critical nature of these documents, which are often CAD or GIS renderings, it is imperative for utility companies to have the wide format printing capabilities that can quickly produce high quality color maps or grids to allow them to provide ongoing service to their customer base. In addition, the need to print these critical documents for use in disaster recovery operations may require them to be printed on a weather-proof, water resistant output such as Tyvek® media.

Retail Market
Although consumer spending is beginning to pick up, competition for attracting customers remains tight. Attractive color signage that is tailored to local market preferences can help retailers stand out, attract customers and boost sales – especially at the point-of-purchase (POP) where the majority of consumers make purchasing decisions. While disposable signage can be produced either by end-use customers in-house or by print-for-pay firms, retailers, especially regional retailers with multiple locations, can benefit from bringing their short-term signage printing in-house in order to reduce costs and speed the turnaround time for signage production.

The best targets for potential in-house signage production are those retailers that need to change their signage and graphics frequently. Retailers that decide to bring signage production in-house need to invest in a wide format printing solution that can quickly and easily produce high quality, attractive signage as it is needed, so it can quickly be placed at the point-of-sale. The print solution chosen should have a fast print speed, minimal to zero drying time, no post print finishing, the ability to neatly stack prints, and flexible, inexpensive media options. Such a solution would allow retailers to improve their turnaround time, control costs and ensure consistent, high quality output over the total job.

Manufacturing Market
While much of the wide format printing within manufacturing has migrated to an 11” x 17” format that can be produced on an office copier, opportunity still exists in larger manufacturing organizations that produce transportation and defense products as well as their suppliers. Typically, print volume in a manufacturing organization is split between 2D and 3D line work with a large volume of scanning and archiving. Most manufacturing firms keep a design archive of parts, components and finished goods as revisions and updates are often needed. This creates an opportunity for scanning and printing – often of drawings marked-up with changes noted in color.

In general, color helps to make complex information easier to understand and interpret, which is especially important during the design and manufacturing process, but also during the review and revision process. In a manufacturing environment, a color printing solution gives users the ability to improve the communication of complex information, reduce errors and minimize waste and re-work.

Government Market
The government market is made up of many sectors, including federal, state, local and county governments and agencies, as well as private firms that contract with the federal government such as defense contractors. This market is often tied to GIS applications as the services provided by federal, state and local governments include transportation, public works & infrastructure planning projects as well as zoning and population density maps. In addition, government offices also have the need to produce engineering drawings.

The overall goal of most government agencies is to provide services to the public. To do this, they need to quickly provide required public information, such as zoning and population maps, and ensure that the information provided is correct by way of stringent version control. Advanced color wide format printing solutions can help government agencies produce a variety of output quickly and cost-effectively, allowing them to service the public’s needs, reduce outsourcing and find new applications. Additionally, the ability to print on Tyvek media improves their ability to use maps outdoors during inclement weather.

GIS User Market
A GIS is any computer system that captures, stores, analyzes, manages and presents data that is linked to a location. It is used in cartography, land surveying, public utility management, urban planning, emergency management and more, and is widespread over many industries. Because GIS applications are, by their nature, tied to maps, the need for color wide format printing exists in most locations using a GIS. This presents an excellent opportunity for dealers looking to meet the wide format printing equipment needs of GIS users.

Since the primary responsibilities of GIS users are to gather and analyze data and draw conclusions based on this data, printing is generally an afterthought. However, when printing is required, it is usually for discussion of information within a project team, presentation of information as part of a regulatory or approval process, or to support disaster recovery or emergency response situations. This requires that GIS users have printers that give them fast access to detailed prints.

GIS file sizes can be quite large so printers used for this application should have powerful file processing capabilities. The drying time for heavy color coverage maps can also create a bottleneck for GIS users, so use of a wide format print technology that requires little to no drying time is a big plus.

Despite the decline of the AEC industry, there exists significant opportunity for dealers to expand their revenue generation by servicing the wide format printing needs available in other industries. Dealers that offer advanced wide format hardware and software solutions to support the growing needs of these industries can grow their business among new prospects while continuing to serve their existing customer base.

Penny Holland is the Director of Business Development, Wide Format Printing Systems division, Océ North America. For company information visit www.oceusa.com.

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