Among the members of the Initiative Online Print e.V. (IOP), cautious optimism and a spirit of new beginnings prevail. This was clearly noticeable at the spring meeting held at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG in Wiesloch on May 31 and June 1 – despite all the deliberations about how to tackle the current crises. In addition, with allcop Farbbild-Service GmbH & Co. KG, the IOP also welcomed a new member to its ranks.
The family-run, medium-sized company based in Lindenberg in the Allgäu region of Germany sees itself as a fulfilment service provider for imaging products and a specialist for white label solutions. The company focuses on personalized photo products.
Founded in 1959, allcop Farbbild-Service GmbH & Co. KG was established as a production company for the photo trade. In the early 2000s, the company was already involved in digitization and shortly thereafter entered the production of photo books and gifts – true to the company motto “Emotions become unique”. Services in print on demand as well as mass customization have been part of the portfolio of the more than 200-strong allcop team since 2020.
“With our portfolio, we see ourselves as an exciting addition to this circle and look forward to the lively exchange with IOP members,” explains Andreas Schätzle, Chief Commercial Officer at allcop. “The field of personalized products is constantly evolving, and I look forward to sharing the latest trends and opportunities in the industry with the IOP.”
Between optimism and caution
In addition to welcoming the new member, however, the spring session of the Initiative Online Print also focused on current developments in the companies. The signs are clearly pointing to a recovery from the Corona pandemic – but at the same time, the business of IOP members is being burdened by the war in Ukraine.
Many companies have used the quieter months caused by the pandemic to optimize internal processes and drive forward digitization within the operations. In the meantime, the volume of orders has also returned to a satisfactory level, which is why the member companies are also predominantly positive about the coming months.
Another positive aspect is the fact that customers generally accept the price increases, which IOP members are now also forced to pass on. Flexibility is also required in the selection of paper, since one takes what is available – and most customers have also come to terms with this better than expected, as reported by the IOP member companies.
Paper crisis and material procurement
An important topic of discussion, on which Peter Goer of Sappi gave a guest presentation, was the paper shortage as well as price increases. The paper expert gave interesting insights into the current developments and problems in material procurement and used graphs to show how the world market currently stands. The effects of the Corona crisis were also discussed, thus creating a new understanding of the problematic situation.
This is because the ongoing shortages and price increases on the market are the result of not only years of capacity reductions in paper production, but also price increases for raw materials, oil, gas and transport. Due to the high volatility, inflation and current political events, there is still no end in sight to these developments.
Behind the scenes at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG
As the IOP spring conference was held at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG in Wiesloch, a look behind the scenes was of course a must. After a warm welcome by Managing Director Dr. David Schmedding and Head of Business Development, Jörn Henselek, and presentations by Christopher Berti, Claudia Jung and Rainer Wolf (also from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG), the agenda included a push-2-stop-end-to-end presentation on a modern offset press. The topic of automation was not only illustrated theoretically, but live – interested parties were also able to take part in a detailed tour of the plant after the conference. An opportunity that many IOP members did not think twice about.
Bernd Zipper, Chairman of the Board of the Initiative Online Print, expressed his thanks on behalf of the entire IOP for the invitation to Wiesloch and summed up: “Here at the Innovation Center, the name says it all. We not only gained interesting insights, but once again held a successful conference, exchanged ideas and discussed current challenges together. That’s what IOP is all about.”
About the Initiative Online Print:
The Initiative Online Print e.V. is a globally unique association of the leading small and large online printers in Europe to form an independent communication and networking platform. Together, the members actively advocate fair competition in online printing services and the perception of the online print industry as an independent sector in the global printing industry.